Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Classic Hike in the Great Smoky Mountains - Mt. LeConte

I read all kinds of rave reviews about this "spectacular" mountain while hiking the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While I did not take a day detour to this peak on that particular wander, I did decide to climb it while in the area last week.

I decided to take the popular Alum Cave Trail to the peak on a fine November day. It starts approx 8 miles south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center along the Newfound Gap Road. You can't miss the large parking lot with toilets on the left. A short side trail leads you to the main trailhead for the Alum Cave Trail.

Trail length roundtrip: 11 miles

Destination: Mt LeConte at 6,593 feet.

The trail follows a bubbling stream for approx .8 mile with nice bridges crossing it.

There are many unique and scenic areas along the trail. At 1.3 mile is the arch rock formation in which the trail meanders through in a unique set of steps set beneath the rock.

The trail veers away from the stream and continues to climb, at times via constructed steps, cables over wet and slick rocky areas and other aids help the traverse. This would be a tricky ascent if these areas were iced over. The next feature at 2.2 miles is the Alum Cave itself where the trail meanders beneath a huge rocky outcropping.

The trail hugs a narrow ledge in some areas that open to wide views as you gradually ascend.

Near the summit you will pass the LeConte Lodge where guests can spend the night in rustic dwellings and enjoy meals in the dining room.

Of course the summit of Mt LeConte is beautiful with different trails to explore. I took the trail near the lodge to the cliffs, approx 0.2 uphill to scenic views of the surrounding mountains amid scrub brush. 

Atop Mt LeConte at the cliffs

There are other trails leading to Mt LeConte, but the Alum Cave trail offers geological wonders and great views for a unique hiking experience. 

Related Blogs - other Trails

1 comment:

Tami said...

Looks like you had a beautiful, clear day to go to the top of LeConte. I hope you enjoyed your trek. It's a beautiful spot, that's for sure. Welcome to my neck of the woods!