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Chestnut Top Trail

Intermediate
 3.4 (5)

A nice trail for spring wildflowers, especially in April.


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Map Key

4.4

Miles

7.0

KM

Point to Point

2,361' 720 m

High

1,138' 347 m

Low

1,328' 405 m

Up

375' 114 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

14%

Max Grade (8°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views · Wildflowers

Chestnut Top Trail is one of the trails in the park that starts outside of the gates that close roads in the winter. It can be accessed even if the Little River and Laurel Creek Roads are closed.

Description

The trailhead is at the Townsend "Y" parking lot.

This is a popular route in the spring thanks to the wide variety of wildflowers that grow along the trail for the first .5 mile. However, at other points in the year, it offers a quiet trip through the woods, once you get away from the Townsend "Y" and the sound of people enjoying the park.

The trail begins across the road from the parking lot, climbing steeply from the road along the slope. It is here, in the first .5 mile, that a great display of wildflowers can be seen in the springtime. Once you have made it through the first half mile, the trail moves to a south facing slope and begins to dry out as you continue to climb.

The trail leaves the sounds and area of the "Y" about 1 mile into the trip. Making your way through the forest, you have the opportunity to take in the hardwoods and pines in the area. Be on the look out for trees where bears have marked their territory with scratches. You'll also find breaks in the trees over 2 miles into the trail that offer views of the crest of the Smokies, especially Thunderhead Mountain. The trail climbs gently until you reach the highest point, Chestnut Top, at 2.8 miles. From Chestnut Top, you'll descend slightly into Bryant Gap where you'll meet the park boundary to the right. The trail levels out for the next mile or so until you come to the junction of Schoolhouse Gap Trail and the end of the trail.

You have several options now that you have reached the end of the trail. You can go right on Schoolhouse Gap Trail for approximately .2 miles, where you quickly come to the end of Dry Valley, where the park boundary is. If the Park Service re-opens the Scott Mountain Trail, which sustained heavy damage in a storm one year, you can continue on the trail toward Cades Cove. If you take a left at the junction, you follow Schoolhouse Gap Trail for 2 miles to Laurel Creek Road. Your final option is turn around and retrace the 4.3 miles back to your car.

Even though it is named Chestnut Top Trail, there are no American chestnut trees along the trail today due to a fungus that was introduced from China in the early 1900s. The American chestnut tree was plentiful in the mountains, providing food and extra income for many families. Research continues in hopes of finding a way to combat the fungus and restore the trees throughout the park.

Flora & Fauna

This is one of the best wildflower trails in the park in the spring time. A large variety of wildflowers exist along the first .5 mile of the trail.

Bears, deer, and other mammals have been seen in the area.

Contacts

Shared By:

David Hitchcock

Trail Ratings

  3.4 from 5 votes

#6

in Tremont

#20906

Overall
  3.4 from 5 votes
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3 Star
60%
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Trail Rankings

#6

in Tremont

#428

in North Carolina

#20,906

Overall
30 Views Last Month
1,015 Since Sep 4, 2015
Intermediate

17%
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17%
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Photos

There are clearings along the trail that open up and the crest of the Smokies are visible on clear days. Here, snow covers the crest.
Jan 30, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Spring wildflowers bloom along the Chestnut Top Trail.
Apr 18, 2017 near Gatlinburg, TN
Views of the Smokies Crest from the Chestnut Top Trail.
Jan 30, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Chestnut Top Trail as it levels out and makes its way through the woods.
Jan 30, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Moss and ferns surround the base of the tree. The damp area along the trail offers good wildflower viewing in the spring.
Jan 30, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
The Little River runs along the road that leads into the park. The trail climbs along the road and the river before it turns deeper into the forest.
Jan 30, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN

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Check-Ins

Feb 20, 2021
Karen Quilliams
Oct 23, 2020
LeAnn DeMotts
Quiet. Pretty view 2.5 mi in. Gets afternoon sun. Saw turkeys. Really great hike.
Jun 30, 2020
Alexander Kauer
Hiked to peak and back with Sabrima 5.5mi — 2h 23m
Feb 22, 2020
John Lopez
8.5mi
Feb 22, 2020
Anthony Lopez
8.6mi — 4h 02m
Apr 29, 2019
LeeAnne Traylor
9mi
Apr 23, 2019
Sally Joines
Apr 18, 2019
Jeremy Mason
Beautiful wildflowers, especially in the first half mile from the Townsend Y. 4.4mi