This was our first time exploring the Great Smoky Mountains! We stayed the night in Gatlinburg and started running around 6:30am, parking at the Chimney Tops TH. We were the first car there, so parking was super easy. The first seven miles of the run were a steep, but very enjoyable climb. We really loved the rocky slopes and early morning lighting through the trees and across the ridge lines. The trail was mostly empty with the exception of a few hikers. We took the short side trail to see the view from Myrtle Point and it was definitely worth it! Absolutely stunning panorama of the mountains. We were a little worried about the level of sun exposure during the middle part of the day, but this route is almost entirely under tree cover. The mosquitoes were also surprisingly limited, but maybe we got lucky!
We made four water stops: Walker Prong creek (close to mile 12), Lower Grassy Branch stream (close to mile 17), Sweet Heifer Creek (close to mile 20), and Road Prong creek crossing (about mile 26). The first water stop was barley running and likely will not have water later in the summer.
Best part after the run: heading back down to the West Prong Little Pigeon River (at the last bridge before the parking lot) for a dip and some post-run snacks!