Well, as long as the weather is good anyway. Or else you may end up with minimal views at the top.
But as long as it’s not complete cloud cover at the top, then hiking Mt LeConte can very much be worth it!
The Mt LeConte hike is one of the best hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Share this Mount LeConte video with the people you’ll be traveling to the Smoky Mountains with!
The Mt LeConte peak is said to be the 3rd highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
There are several trails that lead to the Mt LeConte summit, so you can take your pick. No matter which trail you choose, you can think of it as an all-day hike. Plan on making this your one and only Smoky Mountains activity of the day!
Hiking trails that lead to the Mount LeConte summit
Round trip distance listed in miles below can vary depending on how much you walk around in the summit area! You may add on 1-2 miles in the summit area. But this will start to give you an idea!
1. Hike the Alum Cave Trail to Mt LeConte summit
- Start at the Alum Cave trailhead off of Newfound Gap Road
- At least 10 miles round trip hike
- You’ll pass by Arch Rock and Alum Cave Bluffs
The hike up to the Alum Cave Bluffs 👆 and then you’ll continue on the Alum Cave Trail the rest of the way to the Mt LeConte summit.
2. Hike the Rainbow Falls Trail to Mt LeConte summit
- Start at the Rainbow Falls trailhead just before the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
- At least 13.2 miles round trip hike
- You’ll pass by Rainbow Falls
The hike up to Rainbow Falls 👆 and then you’ll continue on the Rainbow Falls Trail the rest of the way to the Mt LeConte summit.
3. Hike the Trillium Gap Trail to Mt LeConte summit
- Start at the Grotto Falls trailhead off of Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
- At least 13.4 miles round trip hike
- You’ll pass by Grotto Falls
The hike up to the Grotto Falls 👆 and then you’ll continue on the Trillium Gap Trail the rest of the way to the Mt LeConte summit.
4. Hike the Appalachian Trail + Boulevard Trail to Mt LeConte summit
- Start at the Newfound Gap overlook, off of Newfound Gap Road
- At least 16 miles round trip hike
👆 The start of the hike from Newfound Gap overlook. You’ll take the Appalachian Trail from Newfound Gap until you get to the Boulevard Trail junction. Then you’ll hike the Boulevard Trail to the Mt LeConte summit.
Side note! See the more of the Smoky Mountains:
- Best shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains
- Best hikes with VIEWS in the Smoky Mountains
- Best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains
- Driving the scenic route from Gatlinburg to Clingman's Dome
- Driving the slow scenic route from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove
- The big list of things to do in the Smoky Mountains
What to do in the Mt LeConte summit area
1. Mt LeConte summit
Well of course. 😜
The Mt LeConte summit is basically a pile of rocks with no views.
👆 The final path to the peak.
👆 You’ve made it!
Share the Mount LeConte video with the people you’ll be hiking in the Smoky Mountains with!
You’ll have the satisfaction of hitting the 6th highest peak in the Appalachians. But if you’re after mountain views, simply getting to the summit may not be satisfaction enough!
Once in the Mt LeConte summit area, you can take your pick in hiking one of the 2 side trails (or both!) so you can get some amazing views of the Smoky Mountains as the “destination” of your Mt LeConte hike. Each of these trails are around a half mile round trip off of the Boulevard Trail that you will end up on naturally when you are around the Mt LeConte summit area, and it could add on an extra 1-2+ miles of hiking if you do both, including the extra distance you need to hike on the Boulevard Trail to get to the trail junction. These side trails are the next 2 on the list.
2. Cliff Tops
3. Myrtle Point
4. LeConte Lodge
Spend an overnight in one of the highest points in the Great Smoky Mountains and Appalachian Mountains!
Depending on the weather, you may be sleeping above the clouds!
Since the only way to get to the Mt LeConte summit is by foot, this is a hike-in hike-out lodge! Book sooner rather than later, as it’s in high demand. They list last-minute cancellations on their twitter account.
The cost of LeConte Lodge rooms per night start at around $175 per person and $350 for 2 people, with dinner and breakfast included. The 2021 season dates are from March 22 to November 23.
Even if you’re not staying at the LeConte Lodge, you can use the water pump that’s located outside to fill up your water bottle, and you can also use the bathroom.
How much time does it take to hike Mt LeConte?!
Well, there is no easy answer to this, as it depends on a lot of different things, with the most obvious being how fast you’re hiking. Your hiking time can also vary depending on how much time you stop and spend at the various overlooks and exactly where you go once in the summit area.
But just to give you an idea. I took the Alum Cave Trail to the Mt LeConte summit. Actually I wasn’t planning on going any further than the Alum Cave Bluffs, but then, well, you’re there and it’s just so tempting to keep going. It’s only 3 miles away. 😜 I was hiking up at a generally leisurely pace. Once at the top, I didn’t know anything about where to go, and I ended up going to both of the side trails. And since it was getting kind of late (later than I was comfortable with anyway) I started to go a little bit faster on the way down (practically running at times).
Here are my estimated timings taking the Alum Cave Trail to Mt LeConte summit:
- 11:40am: Started the trail
- 12:25pm: Passed through Arch Rock (1.4 miles from start)
- 12:55pm: Passed by Inspiration Point
- 1:10pm: Arrived at Alum Cave Bluffs (2.3 miles from start)
- 1:30pm: Left Alum Cave Bluffs
- 3:10pm: Arrived at Boulevard Trail junction in Mt LeConte summit area (and became confused about what to do looking at the signs since I didn’t know where to go 😜)
- 3:20pm: Arrived at Cliff Tops and stayed for around 5 minutes
- 3:45pm: Arrived at the Mt LeConte summit (pile of rocks)
- 3:55pm: Arrived at Myrtle Point and stayed for around 10 minutes
- 4:20pm: Arrived at LeConte Lodge for water refill and bathroom break
- 4:30pm: Started the hike back down
- 5:35pm: Arrived at Alum Cave Bluffs and stayed around 5 minutes
- 5:50pm: Passed by Inspiration Point
- 6:00pm: Passed through Arch Rock
- 6:25pm: Arrived back at the trailhead
And so, the Mt LeConte hike was a little less than a 7 hour day for me. It took me around 3.5 hours to get to the Mt LeConte summit area, and then I was in the summit area for around an hour, and then it took me around 2 hours to go back down.
The earlier you start in the morning, the better! Also be mindful of sunset time. Since you’re in a forest full of trees, it may feel like the sunset is earlier than it actually is.
What to wear hiking Mt LeConte + what to pack for your Mt LeConte hike
In short, hiking shoes and hiking poles will be helpful during your Mt LeConte hike!
There’s more to bring on your Smoky Mountain day hike just in case!
For example, I was happy to have a headlamp in case I did end up hiking in the dark! It didn’t come to that, but it made me feel a little better knowing I had it. You never know where you’ll end up when you start hiking in the Smoky Mountains! 😜 I set out for a 5 mile hike and ended up hiking for over 10 miles, probably closer to 12 miles if not more!
See more about what to bring on your big Smoky Mountains hike!
And that’s a bit about hiking Mt LeConte in the Smoky Mountains!
See the list of the best hikes with the best views in the Smoky Mountains when you only have a few days!
If you want to add in some waterfalls hikes, then also see the list of waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains.
And also see the big list of the best of the Smoky Mountains!
HAPPY HIKING MOUNT LECONTE!
Best shoes for hiking in the Smoky MountainsYou will want good shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains.
In general, the best shoes for hiking in the Smoky Mountains will be hiking boots (more ideal) or trail running shoes (more versatile for everyday activities compared to hiking boots but still will give you advantages compared to regular shoes).
I liked wearing my hiking boots for the thicker soles (good on rocky trails) and the waterproof (water resistant) nature of them.
They were especially helpful on rainy day hikes to keep my shoes (and socks!) dry! They are also better to be walking on mud compared to regular shoes.
On rougher terrain (like the trails that are a bit rougher with more rocks), hiking boots are more ideal so you won't feel it on the bottoms of your feet as much.
If you want shoes that can work out better as everyday "out and about" kind of shoes, then you might like trail running shoes better! Trail running shoes are a little more durable than regular shoes, so they can also work out as good hiking shoes. Trail running shoes are a bit lighter weight and less bulky compared to hiking boots.
Shoe fit is very important for your feet! Be sure to break in your new shoes by walking around the neighborhood and/or at the grocery store before you go on your "big hike" in the Smoky Mountains!