Mount LeConte via The Bullhead Trail is a 13.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Gatlinburg, TN that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding 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.
*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.
Realizing I'm in the minority, there's a reason this is the least traveled route to Mount Le Conte. To be fair, we didn't go all the way up to Mount Le Conte... and it's because I was ungodly bored. Give me something - anything - interesting to look at! This was just an ascent with no sights to see, no good foliage, no view. Ugh. My husband still teases me, years after we hiked this trail, about how miserable I was. And I enjoy hiking! Skip this and go with Alum Cave if you need a way up to Le Conte.
Beautiful & challenging trail through the woods, a couple stunning views of mountains. The summit, of course, is a paradise. Wouldn't feel too good about doing this trail in the summer, however. The sun hits the trail pretty harshly in the afternoon and it gets hot- even in the middle of October.
This was wonderful! Definitely challenging but so worth it! Came down Bullhead after staying at the lodge at Mt Leconte. Went up the Boulevard. I loved it!
A good way to go up or come down from Mt. LeConte if you don't want a crowd.
Challenging but worth it! Great views!
A nice trail we took down from our stay at LeConte Lodge. It was somewhat foggy with intermittent views on the descent, so we only got some good views of Gatlinburg, but enough to be enjoyed.
Had an amazing trip with a group scouts on New Years Day 2015. Although cold and windy (with a little ice) at the top overall it was a beautiful day. Now for the trail, this is a great track to the top of Mt LaConte. A fairly gentle grade makes this a good route for beginners.
Beautiful but strenuous. Better to go up rainbow falls and come down bullhead.