Features: Fall Colors — River/Creek — Views — Wildflowers
Dogs: No Dogs
The trail is rocky, wet, and narrow, and crosses several creek along the way. This one has also been known to suffer from blown down trees. It's very steep as well. All of these features combine to make for a difficult, though not impossible run.
The trail begins at Chimney Tops Trailhead, 6.3 miles from Sugarlands on Newfound Gap Road and 6.7 miles from Newfound Gap. You need to make your way out on the Chimney Tops Trail
.9 miles to Beech Flats, where our trail breaks off to the left.
This is a good climb from the Chimney Tops Trail
to Indian Gap on Clingmans Dome
Road and the Appalachian Trail. Most of the trail is uphill and climbs along the old toll road that connected Sevierville, TN and Cherokee, NC. As you leave the trail junction, you'll notice wildflower blooming if you are on this trail in the spring. The trail is an old roadbed that is rocky and eroded now, although it doesn't get a lot of foot traffic. Hugging Mount Mingus, the trail moves upward through rhododendron trees until it comes to a footbridge that crosses Road Prong.
As you move up the trail, you pass Standing Rock and a couple waterfalls and cascades. Around 1.6 miles, the trail diverts from the original path due to a massive flash flood and the resulting landslide and log jam that have torn up the area (see photos).
The trail continues to ascend as it moves through spruce-fir forests before you encounter fir trees ravaged by the balsam woolly adelgid. Most of the mature fir trees in this area have been infested by these invasive insects and have died.
As the trail climbs, the Road Prong gets smaller and crosses the creek about a dozen times. At this point, it's probably just easier to make your way up the middle of the creek, if the water isn't too high. The trail leaves the creek and becomes shaded, so if you are visiting in the winter, you may encounter some snow in the shaded areas even if the rest of the trail is clear.
A little more climbing brings you to a grassy patch where you cross the Appalachian Trail and encounter Clingmans Dome
Road. You can explore the AT in either direction. Going to the right will take you out to Clingmans Dome
and going left will take you to Newfound Gap. If you want to get back to your car, turn around and follow the trail back to the Chimney Tops Trail