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Pets allowed
No
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
One-way/Shuttle
Distance
17.50 mi (28.16 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

At 6,643 feet, Mount LeConte is a staggering mountain. It is the highest mountain entirely within Tennessee and the third highest in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It has a 5,300-foot prominence measuring from Gatlinburg, and hosts the East Coast's highest public inn. There is controversy around which LeConte the mountain was named for, either Joseph or his older brother John, but what is known for sure is how the mountain helped the park come to fruition.

Not much activity occurred in the Smokies until Paul Adams moved to Knoxville. Hiker and explorer, Adams spent much of his time in what is now Great Smoky Mountain National Park. In 1924 he joined the Great Smoky Mountain Conservation Association and led an expedition up the mountain with dignitaries from Washington. The group spent the night on the site that would eventually be LeConte Lodge, and 10 years later the national park was born.

There are many ways up the mountain, probably the most popular of which is the Alum Cave Trail. If you are staying at the shelter, this fills up almost immediately every Saturday night as soon as it’s available to reserve (2:00 a.m. EST 30 days before date in question); please be advised and set your alarm to secure your reservation.

This adventure begins at Trillium Gap Trailhead and passes by two unique points of interest on the way up. Grotto Falls is a small falls along the trail that allows the hiker to walk behind and underneath the falls, and Brushy Mountain is a short 0.3-mile spur trail to a nice viewpoint to the northeast. After making it up to the lodge, take advantage of the pre-treated water and restrooms before heading over to the shelter.

Definitely check out the sunset at the Clifftops overlook, about half a mile from the shelter. Myrtle Point is the place to see the sunrise, and it is about the same distance in the other direction. Signage is good at the top, so don’t worry about getting lost. The summit itself has a rock pile, but no view, so check out the two previously mentioned overlooks for the best pictures.

In the morning, after you start on the Boulevard Trail, use the cables as necessary if you’re afraid of heights, as there are a few steep sections next to the trail. After a lot of up and down, you’ll finally make it to the intersection with the Appalaachian Trail. If the weather is good, take the short spur trail to the Jumpoff overlook; it is well worth the effort. Follow the AT all the way back to Newfound Gap to finish out the hike.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Great Views. Shelter. Old-growth Forest. Iconic mountain.

Cons

Point to point. Difficult to reserve.

Trailhead Elevation

2,990.00 ft (911.35 m)

Net Elevation Gain

3,374.00 ft (1,028.40 m)

Address

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
United States

Features

Backcountry camping
Historically significant
Waterfalls
Big vistas
Old-growth forest
Wildflowers
Shelters

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Comments

03/20/2018
Haven't made it up to Leconte yet but I've hiked it as far as Brushy Mountain. Wonderful hike. But start EARLY. Grotto falls is a very popular hike and can get very crowded. On the plus side most people don't hike past the falls. I started pretty early on a weekday and only ran across one other person on my way up. The solitude was well worth the effort of getting up early. Had Brushy mountain all to myself. It was great. Ran up on a couple of black bears on the way down. One a little to close for comfort but he wasn't interested in me. Not sure which of us it scared worse! By the time I got back to Grotto falls around mid to late morning it was packed. So if you like solitude I would recommend starting early and go on a weekday. Defintely a hike I intend to do again!
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