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Love this hike loved it more when I could climb to the top, I personally think this is harder than hiking to Mount Le Conte. I recommend doing some hills and longer hikes prior to this one. The view is still stunning from the overlook. This is a must do hike in the park

great trail to challenge your leg strengths. I am a beginner hiker and it was a bit hard. it was worth to see the view on top!

Saw more people than I would have liked, but the views were amazing. Go all the way to Myrtle Point. If icy, crampons are worth carrying.

Most beautiful trail in the park. If I could only do one this would be it for sure.

on Rainbow Falls Trail

hiking
9 days ago

Even though it was super cold it was still an awesome hike!!! Snowing at the falls and it was gorgous!!! Closer to the falls the ground and rock crossings were icy. But it was still a great hike!!!

Do the hike several times a month.
Great hike,magnificent view from the rock face.
One of my favorite hikes.

hiking
13 days ago

Everything you’ve read about how relentlessly steep this trail is? It’s all true. Had we not been training for several months for this hike, wife & I probably wouldn’t have been able to get out of bed the next morning. Trekking poles are A MUST for this steep hike; your thighs and calves will thank you.
Even in the segments that don’t contain long flights of stairs, it’s still nearly always an uphill climb. All that said, the views from the overlook are pretty amazing. The bare “chimney tops” themselves are clearly visible from the overlook, so there’s really no need to follow the trail beyond the overlook (where it dead-ends at a gate).
After lots of rain a few days earlier, the trail was extremely muddy on the day we hiked it.
This trail is definitely showing signs of being “loved to death” by scores of hikers. (Wonder if some sort of daily lottery to manage the number of hikers might be the answer?)
Encountered a young couple on the trail with their dog, and had to politely let them know that dogs aren’t allowed on most hiking trails within the park.
Be sure to start this hike early enough in the day that you’ll arrive back at the parking lot before it starts to get dark. On our mid-afternoon trip back down, we encountered a number of folks just getting started who almost certainly would be coming down all those steep stairs in twilight.
As always, carry – and drink – plenty of water, and take some energy snacks (or lunch) to enjoy at the overlook before heading back to the trailhead and the pain reliever of your choice. Sunscreen and bug spray are wise precautions.
Although parking area is fairly large, it appears to fill up quickly, so plan to get there early to avoid having to park along the busy roadside and walk to the trailhead.
After completing this challenging but rewarding hike, treat yourself to a burger in Gatlinburg – you’ve earned it!

Great hike! Good trail running parts of it as well, especially on the descent. The view was beautiful, but wish there was a bit more to it. Recommend, though!

Wife & I hiked this trail to the bluffs and back for a total distance of 4.6 miles. This was perhaps our favorite of all the trails we hiked in the park, not so much for the destination but for the trail itself.
The first segment of this hike is just delightful, with gorgeous views up and down Alum Cave Creek. We did this hike after a day of heavy rain, which made the creek particularly full and active – and scenic.
Nice, wide path from the trailhead all the way to the bluffs. Numerous crossings on bridges or sturdy footlogs. Climbing the rock stairway through Arch Rock is a unique experience. The last segment past Inspiration Point is rather steep.
As always, carry – and drink – plenty of water, and take some energy snacks (or lunch) to enjoy at the bluffs before heading back to the trailhead. Even though much of this trail is shaded, sunscreen is never a bad idea. And since the trail is near the creek much of the time, bug spray is advisable during the warmer months.
A couple of days later we drove past this trailhead and parking was INSANE! Dozens of cars lining both sides of the road in both directions! This is most definitely a situation where you’ll want to be at the trailhead early in the morning to avoid the crowds – and an extra half-mile walk from your car to the trailhead!

One of my favorite hikes of all time, hands down!

backpacking
14 days ago

Backpacked with 2 buddies October 2018. Camped on what I think was black balsam knob. Beautiful scenery. Most of what we read said there was no water which is true once you get above the forest but there are many options for about the first 4-5 miles of the trail through the woods. You might consider not carrying the extra weight until you have to. All in all a great hike. Will go again sometime.

9-29-17 one of the most beautiful trails out there. Cute log bridges and interesting features along the way. We sighted bear scat. At the top we had a foggy view but the smell of pine and lush flora made it more than worth it! We hit the trail very early and had some solitude at the way up- as always the further out you go the less people you see. Took us a little over 5 hours.

Beautiful in the snow, would highly recommend! Take lots of warm clothes as it gets cold at the top. Took around 6 hours with breaks up and down for reasonably fit people.

just loved all aspects of this hike...the waterfalls were beautiful and the hike was worth every step!

Best trail to the top of Mt. LeConte. Absolutely the prettiest views. At times you'll feel like you want to quit, but once you get to the top you'll see that it's worth it. After getting to the top, I recommend spending a couple of hours to recharge before the trek down. Maybe eat some lunch over on Cliff Tops. If the store is open, pick of a shirt to commemorate the year you hiked it, and don't forget the pic in front of the lodge. Remember, no gifts for people that didn't make the hike.

backpacking
16 days ago

Started the Art Loeb Trail at Davidson River on 11/23/3018 and ended at Daniel Boone on 11/25/2018.

MY EXPERIENCE
My friend and I completed the trail in 3 days.
- Day 1 (12 miles): The entire 12 miles was in the forest with NO views - at least no views were worth the exhaustion. We passed many great campsites along the way, but we ended up having to camp near a road, because the sun was about to set by the time we reached 12 miles.
- Day 2 (8 miles): The second day consisted of 8 miles of torture with the first lookout view of the trip. We trekked through a variety of terrain and ended at Black Balsam. For about 90% of the day, I questioned why I agreed to go on the backpack. There are periods where you just keep going up, and you think that you can't go any higher, but you make a turn and go up some more.
- Day 3 (11 miles): The third day consisted of a moderate 11 miles. This was the best day - beautiful scenery and relatively easy hike (compared to the first 20 miles). We hiked a variety of terrain, and I enjoyed the majority of the last day. There's about 1 mile of steep, rocky uphill, but other than that the trail is easy/moderate. Watch out for the last 4 miles of downhill - it's "easy" because it's downhill, but it really messes with your knees.

RECOMMENDATIONS / TIPS
General Tips:
- If you don't care about finishing the entire trail and just want some good views, I would recommend skipping the entire first 20 miles of the Davidson to Daniel Boone route. Instead, make it a 2-day out-and-back backpack by parking at Daniel Boone and hike around 11 miles toward Davidson until you reach the final bald, then turn back. If you want a relaxed 3-day backpack, add in a stop near Cold Mountain the first or second night.
- Have GPS or a map/compass. It gets confusing in the Shining Rock Wilderness.
- Bring trekking poles - especially in fall when there's a probability of ice on the trail. I would have busted my head open and injured myself severely if I hadn't brought my trekking poles.
- Water was abundant between Cold Mountain and Daniel Boone. Other parts of the trail, we had a decent number of water sources due to recent rain, but I could see many of them drying up. Jump on any water source you can and carry enough water to drink/cook for the day.
- It was EXTREMELY windy on Black Balsam the evening we arrived (but no wind the next morning). If it's windy, set up camp before you reach the top, walk down the side-trails from the bald and find a site that blocks more of the wind, or go an extra 1-2 miles to find another campsite.
- Cover up for the Shining Rock Wilderness portion. The trail was pretty overgrown, and I would be extremely concerned about ticks in the warmer months.
Mileage Specific Tips: If you plan to follow my itinerary, the following tips may be useful
- The nearest campsites to mile 12 were around mile 10-11 and 13-14
- The nearest reliable water source to mile 12 was at the shelter at mile 9. Have fun carrying up the water.

Was very steep! The beginning along the water in the woods was beautiful. Waterfall not impressive. Much more abundant falls in North Carolina.

Wouldn't rate this as "hard" but decent hike up with a nice view at the end.

Definitely a challenging hike but WELL worth it! This was the most beautiful hike we did on our trip by far. My 10 year old son handled it like a champ. Even after twisting his little ankle, and lots of tears, he made it to Alum Cave!
The first half of this trail is breathtaking along the river. We had lots of photo ops and the kids LOVED stopping to climb up the rocks, on fallen trees and play in the river. After a pretty steep climb it opens up to amazing views. You can see Alum Cave from that point but still have a good half mile to climb. There are areas with stairs where it gets really steep.
Beware going during early fall, when we were there on 11/21 water froze into giant icicles atop the cave and were melting and dropping down from above over the trail. I nearly got hit by a huge one that fell 3 feet from where I was walking up the steps and shattered.
Overall an amazingly beautiful trail that we will definitely hike again on our next trip!

The views were breathtaking! Short, somewhat muddy walk up to the summit. Once there, it’s the most incredible 360 views of the smoky mountains! It’s right off the interstate, and the ride up the mountain was just as fun and gorgeous.

hiking
18 days ago

We parked at the stables and went in November. It was on the tail end of lead season and beautiful.

Some of the reviews/directions are hard to follow on here. Take the main road and use the BUCKHORN GAP trail head. We missed this and ended up three miles uphill.

Once we got on track it was pretty straight forward and the directions made sense. Just make sure to use the correct trail head.

Easy and pretty

It was amazzzzing! it was fairly long, taking us about 4 hours, including stopping along the way and at the top. lots of zigzags, and an upwards hike at almost every location on the trail, but the view is totally worth it! you're so high, and youre standing on a stone face overlooking miles and miles of mountains and trees, and it is really just breathtaking. really makes you feel in tune with nature!

Fairly difficult, fun and scenic hike. Very crowded. Both All Trails and local signs say 10 miles round trip but the All Trails GPS clocked us at nearly 15. Took just over 5.5 hours to complete.

hiking
19 days ago

Solid hike with a nice reward at the top. The view off the rock face was great. Pretty steady incline the whole way that is not hard. I hoofed it pretty quickly so I actually did feel it a bit the next day.

Overall a nice trip if you are looking for something in between leisurely and challenging that has a unique lookout at the top you will remember. Seemed like a great date hike or family hike.

I went on a beautiful fall day so there was a steady stream of people. Quite a few dogs (maybe 15 or so) making the hike up since the incline is reasonable and no real climbing needed. Almost all were on a leash although two were not - plus there was a sign for a lost dog. :( Sounds like a lot of dogs but over the course of 6 miles it wasnt really much.

Best hike in the park.
Although it is extremely difficult.
I’m 24, I go to the gym 5 days a week and in decent shape. It took 7 hours to do the whole trail.
The dining room was closed at the top and it was 50 at the bottom, 20 at the top. You need at least 3 bottles of water and 2 snacks person.
I did this in Nike Running Shoes. I’d suggest a hiking shoe instead and definitely trekking poles or your knees and hips will be swollen for a week after. Going down is worse on your body than going up. If you plan to summit I’d start before 9am at the latest. It gets very crowded.
The best views however are before the bluffs after the cave stairs.

Camped at the top at the backpacking shelter, only thing was it hit a low of 12 degrees.. ouch. Awesome hike and views, must see. Best hike in park hands down.

Great hike!
Going up to alum cave is beautiful! Love going along creek & steps through the rock formation. After alum cave, great views and neat cliffs. Path is very narrow in spots.
Obviously, LeConte is such a neat place, brownies are to die for. We hike every year.
Note that the hike after alum cave is longer than you think, especially after going back into the woods (after eagles eye). Perseverance....it’s worth it.

My son and I hiked this trail this morning. It was challenging, but definitely worth the effort and we were glad we chose to do it. We will definitely hike this one again and hopefully the top portion will be opened up again soon.

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