With both Clingmans Dome (6664′) and Mount Guyot (6621′) located on the border between Tennessee & North Carolina, Mount LeConte is the tallest mountain entirely within the state of Tennessee, at an elevation of 6593′.
One of the most popular hikes within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it features five trails to the summit and has the highest guest lodge in the eastern United States. LeConte Lodge operates via a seasonal airlift of supplies by helicopter in March, and with alternating teams of pack llamas several days each week throughout the season.
My hike began at the Alum Cave Trailhead, located in Seiver County near Gatlinburg, approx. 8 miles from the Sugarlands Visitor Center along Newfound Gap Road.
This was my second visit to this trail – see Alum Cave Bluffs In Tennessee.
I left my home in Knoxville, TN by 6:00 a.m. and returned at 6:15 p.m.. It was 7:53 a.m. when I started on the Alum Cave Trail, and 4:35 p.m. when I finished. All told, I hiked 12 miles and ascended 2700′ along the way.
Passing through Arch Rock, then beyond Inspiration Point, I reached Alum Cave Bluffs and rested to enjoy a peanut butter & raisin sandwich. This spot offers impressive views – including the Eye of The Needle – and is a popular destination for most hikers.
The slopes became steeper, thereafter, periodically revealing splendid views:
And, where useful, steel cables were affixed to the mountain for hiker safety:
Once on top, I continued beyond the lodge, stopping to see High Top – a cairn rock pile marking the 6593′ peak:
Walking along the trail on an edge of the mountain, I could see my destination in the distance – Myrtle Point, the easternmost peak on Mount LeConte:
The expansive, panoramic views here were truly stunning, and very much worth the additional 3/4 mile hike! Flat rocks offered welcomed seating to enjoy an impressive mountain landscape – including Mount Kephart, Charlies Bunion and Clingmans Dome:
Next, I backtracked along the trail until I reached a junction leading to Cliff Top, another vantage point offering excellent views – including Chimney Tops:
On my way back, I stopped at the lodge to use the outhouse, and discovered a comfortable rocking hair on the porch of a gift-shop building. So comfortable, in fact, that it took me nearly 15 minutes to stand-up again and resume my hike down the mountain!
Along the trail, I pondered how nice it would be to have a zip-line for my descent…haha.
Over the course of the day I met the same people on several different occasions, as various trails crisscross between points of interest and hikers, once reaching the summit, are usually in no hurry to leave. Also, many folks have reservations to stay overnight.
The following video was filmed at Myrtle Point:
Though strenuous, I can highly recommend this hike! Make sure you’re well-rested, carry sufficient water, monitor weather reports, and consider using “trekking poles” for added stability.
Many of these photographs can be purchased on prints of all kinds, including: framed, canvas, art, metal, wood, acrylic and tapestries. Other items available, also. See more in my shops at Pixels and/or Fine Art America. Thanks!