High Point on Mt. LeConte
My wife (JustJan) gave me a night’s stay at LeConte Lodge for my 40th birthday this year as a gift. Mt. LeConte is the second highest point in the Great Smoky Mountain Park on the Tennessee side. It’s the fifth highest peak east of the Mississippi River and has the highest face east of the Mississippi. The lodge is located on top of the mountain, about 0.5 mile from the summit (High Point). It’s a little more rustic than your typical lodge, with no running water, toilets or electricity in your cabin/room. No showers. And no parking lot….. To get to the lodge, you’ve gotta take one of the trails up the mountain by foot!
We took the Rainbow Falls Trail and connected to the Bullhead Trail for our final approach to the lodge. This path is about 6.5 miles gaining about 3200′ of elevation from the trailhead to the lodge. (It’s still a little bit of up to the summit.) Along the way we enjoy sweeping views, rushing creeks, and many waterfalls, including the spectacula Rainbow Falls. We were able to see quite the array of rhododendrun, mountain laurel, and wild azalias along the way. Also, along the way, a fairly large black bear got to enjoy our discomfort in being WAY to close to him. It was a 4.5 hour hike, but we weren’t really rushing, stopping to enjoy the trip and take pictures often.
When we finally got to the top, we rested for a few minutes before heading up to High Point to add our rock to the summit pile, visit the Cliff Tops and Myrtle Point, and most importantly, EAT a CHEESEBURGER! It’s pretty up here and I would recommend that if you get the chance!
We took the Alum Cave Bluff Trail (4.5 mi) back down to our car. That was a fantastic choice. We not only got the best sweeping views of the trip here, but we also got to visit Inspiration Point, the Arch, the Eye of the Needle, and of course the Alum Cave Blufs. This trail is very beautiful, scenic, and geologically interesting. I would recommend this trail to anyone capable of the trip!
See you all on the trail!