5 Trails You Can Hike to Get to the Summit of Mount LeConte

August 19, 2020

The tallest mountain in the Smoky Mountains is Mount LeConte. Many hikers come to the area every year to hike to the summit since it’s the tallest peak in the area and it’s incredible for sunrises and sunsets. What’s unique about hiking to the top of Mount LeConte is there’s not just one trail, but they are all considered difficult. Here are 5 trails you can hike to get to the summit of Mount LeConte:

1. Alum Cave Trail

alum cave bluffsAlum Cave Trail is a pretty popular trail to get to the summit of Mount LeConte. The roundtrip length is 10.5 miles. You’ll walk through dense forest and see all kinds of cool geological features. There’s a place called Arch Rock with stairs made from stone to make the trail easier to climb. About halfway, you’ll see the Alum bluffs, which are an incredible size. The farther you go on the trail, the thinner it will become. The higher you get, the more beautiful the views become. The best time to hike this trail is early in the morning.

2. Rainbow Falls Trail

Rainbow Falls Trail is the second most popular trail to get to the summit. The roundtrip length is 13 miles, and you’ll see plenty of amazing features along this trail as well. For most of the beginning on the hike, you hike alongside LeConte Creek. At about 3 miles, you will reach Rainbow Falls, which is the tallest single-drop waterfall in the national park. After the falls, you’ll hike through the woods, and the closer you get to the top, the more mountain views you’ll see.

3. Trillium Gap Loop Trail

grotto fallsTrillium Gap Loop Trail is 14.9 miles roundtrip. Along this trail, you can stop and see Grotto Falls, a popular waterfall in the Smoky Mountains. It’s the only waterfall in the national park you can walk behind. This trail is also how supplies are brought to LeConte Lodge, and llamas are used to carry supplies to the top, so you might see some on your hike!

4. Bull Head Trail

If you want to go on a trail that’s not quite as popular as the previous 3, you should hike Bull Head Trail. You access this trail from the Rainbow Trails parking lot. The roundtrip length is 13.8 miles. You’ll hike through a lot of trees for incredible wooded views. In the spring, you’ll see all kinds of wildflowers along Bull Head Trail since there are dogwoods and magnolias. You’ll see some views as you ascend up the mountain.

5. Appalachian Trail and Boulevard Trail

appalachian trailIf you take the Appalachian Trail and Boulevard Trail to get to Mount LeConte’s summit, you’ll have a roundtrip length of 15.6 miles. This is the hardest trail to do, but the beauty of the scenery is worth it. You’ll hike through dense woods, and you’ll pass Charlie’s Bunion, a beautiful place to take in the incredible views of the mountain range. As you keep making your way to the summit, you’ll see wildflowers in the spring and even more views.

These trails are beautiful and take you to the summit of Mount LeConte, which is an amazing journey, no matter which one you choose to hike. We want you to have a great time hiking, but we also want you to be as safe as possible. Check out these safety tips for hiking in the Smoky Mountains.