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Chestnut Top Trail - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Wildflowers and Black Bears

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 4.3 miles
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly

Overview :  As a ranger in the Smokies, Chestnut Top was one of my favorite trails to introduce visitors the vast diversity of life found in these... more »

Tips:  Chestnut Top's Trailhead is at the Townsend Wye. This is where the Middle Prong and East Prongs of the Little River merge in a near... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Sweet White Trillium

The forest floor around the trailhead is carpeted with these beautiful ephemerals in mid April.

2. Bloodroot

Get to the trail early in spring to see these spectacular wildflowers.

3. Bishop's Cap

They may be tiny, but these little flowers have a rich history. Look for them along the right side of the trail as you begin your hike.

4. Wild Stonecrop

The only succulent in the Great Smoky Mountains. This spring wildflower has been used as a barometer of weather and health. Check it out along the rocky ledges to your left.

5. Hepatica

Hepatica, as the name implies, was once thought to cure liver disease. Look low to the ground or perched along the rock walls as you hike. You'll need to be here early in the season. Its been seen in bloom as early as February, but not often into April.

6. Yellow Trillium

Holding its flowers erect, this yellow trillium litters the hillside in April. Bend down and sniff you won't be disappointed.

7. Fire Pink

This flamboyant blossom is named not for its color, but for the shape of its petals. You'll find them further up the trail as the rich assortment of flowers begins to wain. Its worth your time and effort to keep moving up the hill.

8. Bear Safety

The Great Smoky Mountains has the greatest density of black bears in the lower 48 states. It is the perfect place to observe these majestic creatures. But be sure to be safe for your own sake and that of the bear as well. Backcountry bear attacks are incredibly rare, but learn how best to behave when confronting a bear.

9. Bear Sign

So you haven't seen a bear yet? Have you seen their sign? Bears leave lots of sign in the woods, some just in passing and some to send a message. Learn to read the forest.

10. Cherokee Bear Myth

Welcome to Chestnut Top, from here you can see into the heart of Shaconage or the Land of the Blue Smoke. The Cherokee inhabited these mountains long before the Europeans came to America. They have left a rich history in their stories. Let me share one with you as you stop and rest or lunch along this wonderful trail.