Mount LeConte via The Bullhead Trail is a 13.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until November.
The Bullhead Trail is an American hiking trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. the trail ascends Mount Le Conter and offers outstanding views. The Bullhead Trail is the least traveled route to the summit of Mount Le Conte. The beginning of the Bullhead Trail is, for all intents and purposes, actually the trailhead to the Rainbow Falls Trail. Both trails are designated the same parking area, and because of their proximity (the two paths are separated only by a 0.3-mile (0.48 km) spur trail) many hikers choose to ascend one trail (usually the Rainbow Falls Trail) and descend the other. Given this, however, the trail is still the least popular route along Mount Le Conte, probably because of its isolation (in the woods, near to but away from its crowded neighbor trail) and that it contains no spectacular landmarks along its path. But it is this isolation that makes the trail so desirable to those who favor solitude when hiking.
This was our longest hike to date - we are late 50's/early 60's. We did the Rainbow Falls hike and on to Mt LeConte then down Bulls Head trail. 7 hours and it was 14.4 miles total. We hiked up above the smokey haze that was covering the valley due to forest fires in nearby counties. Beautiful Christmas trees at the summit. Lots of boulders and rocks and a nice thicket onBulls Head. Rainbow Falls was a trickle due to lack of rainfall. These trails were a challenge and our joints were sore from the steady ascent on rock paths to the top and then the fast moving - toes-hurting descent to the parking lot! But that's what the nice hot tub back at our chalet is for...we would do this hike again someday , but not any time soon. Lol
I still remember this one. It was a leg burner.
We did this years ago, combining it with the Rainbow Falls Trail. If you love the woods, this is the trail.
*Facilities in the parking lot of the Rainbow Falls trail head*
Took Bullhead trail down from Mt. LeConte, and went up via Rainbow Falls trail to make a round trip of 13 to 14 miles/ 5 hours up-4 hours down (including the small jaunt on Sugarlands trail back to our cars).
Total miles from LeConte summit is 6.5 miles one way. We took our time, and captured lots of photos...but for those who want to hike faster, it will obviously not take that long.
This trail is challenging, not only for the steep grade, but also due to the amount of dropped branches/foliage covering 3/4 or more of the entire trail from trail maintenance cutting back branches and leaving a ton of the crap left on the trail. So much of it is hiding rocks and tree roots...be very cautious when making your trek up or down.
There were a few views of the surrounding mountains, from the trail, but it's August so much was still hidden. I would imagine this trail would be amazing in the fall or winter, when all the leaves are gone. HUGE rock/boulder formations line the lower half of the trail, and in the upper elevations, there were many special flowers that are rare to see, growing only in the most perfect conditions.
It's long, steep, rocky, tree rooted and challenging....so just be sure to keep that in mind.....my personal opinion is if you are going to do this trail, take it down from LeConte...not up. But, I would imagine that others would have a different take on it.
Great trail, with some stunning views overlooking Gatlinburg.
Went up via Rainbow Falls and down via Bullhead. Although Bullhead's slightly longer and slightly less tree-covered, it's a better trail IMHO: better views and a little smoother. As for Mt LeConte itself, it's as awesome as advertised: can see for miles and the scenery at the very top is breathtaking! As long as you're well-prepared and in good shape, you have to do this trail!
We hiked this trail in early May and took Rainbow Falls up to Mt LeConte and Bullhead trail down. The round trip took us 6.5 hours, but we went pretty much straight through, only stopping for 5 min rest breaks once in a while. One thing that is important to realize about LeConte is that when you get to the Lodge, you can continue on to the official summit, its an extra .6 miles. Its not much to see, but it is an easy .6 miles so it was worth it just to say you summited it. Otherwise, you get the great views when you take the small trail .2 miles that was called Cliff Tops if I am remembering correctly.
Bullhead trail itself wasn't much for views or scenery, the descent was pretty steep and can be hard on the knees. Rainbow Falls trail, however, has the waterfall and is generally a pretty hike.
Difficult and hardest thing I have done in my life.