Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Rainbow Falls Trail to Mount LeConte and Bullhead Trail, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Mount LeConte is the most famous mountain in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Being in the list of the top 25 highest peaks in the eastern US, it is also the tallest peak in the eastern US measured directly from its base near Gatlinburg. The mountain is home to a hikers lodge, accessed only by foot. The lodge provides amenities in all times of the year except winter. Due to the popularity of LeConte, five trails lead to the summit. If you have followed this blog for a little bit, you might have seen that I have already hiked to Mount LeConte via Alum Cave Trail. Unfortunately, I came to a fogged in overlook. This was my second attempt of seeing the views on Mount LeConte, with an even more challenging hike. And this time, due to my hiking partner not being in shape, the 4000-foot climb took considerably more time than expected. I arrived at the summit in the dark, but at least I was able to capture a good night picture of Pigeon Forge - even that wasn't possible last time. One day I'll set out on my third attempt to hike up to LeConte to see the views, and I know I won't fail that time. This hike occurred on February 28, 2015. My plan was to hike up to Mount LeConte via Rainbow Falls Trail, see the views from Cliff Tops, Myrtle Point, and Rocky Spur, and then return by Bullhead Trail.
Mount LeConte is one of the most famous mountains in the Southeast. 3rd highest in the Great Smoky Mountains, it has as many as five access trails to the summit. I have done only one, but it is beautiful. Along the way up to LeConte, pass Arch Rock - an arch formed by water over the course of millions of years, and Alum Cave Bluffs - a huge rock overhang of Anakeesta Rock. Also, see the red squirrels, unique to the Southeast, that are found in this area. Near the summit, visit Mount LeConte Lodge and spend the night in the romantic-based lodge or cabins, or if you're like me, squeeze it all in a day hike. It's not that hard. This hike occurred on Saturday, October 18th, 2014. My plan was starting at the Alum Cave Bluffs Trailhead to follow the Alum Cave Trail all the way to the summit of Mt. LeConte. Then, I would visit Cliff Tops, Myrtle Point, and High Point. However, my plans did not include an excellent day changing to wind, fog, and drizzle.
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Year 1: 540.0 Miles
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Year 3: 518.4 Miles
Year 4: 482.4 Miles
Year 5: 259.9 Miles