Mount LeConte via Appalachian Trail and Boulevard Trail

HARD 57 reviews

Mount LeConte via Appalachian Trail and Boulevard Trail is a 15.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November.

DISTANCE
15.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3625 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

old growth

rocky

no dogs

The trail to Mt. LeConte, via the Appalachian Trail and then the Boulevard Trail, begins from the Newfound Gap parking lot. The steady climb over the course of the first two miles of the trail will quickly leave the crowds behind. For your effort during this section of trail, you'll be rewarded often and early. Take a short break at roughly two-thirds of a mile and enjoy the grand views of the North Carolina side of the Smokies. Make sure to watch for the variety of wildflowers along the way as well. Just before reaching the Sweat Heifer Creek Trail junction at 1.7 miles you'll have an opportunity to take in some outstanding views of Mount LeConte and Myrtle Point towards the north. Throughout several portions of this section of the trail you'll be traveling right around 6000 feet in elevation. Being at the highest point along this narrow ridge, with outstanding views on either side of the trail, you'll feel like you're walking along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains. At just over 2.7 miles the Boulevard Trail to Mount LeConte forks off to the left. Continuing straight on the Appalachian Trail will lead you to Charlies Bunion in another 1.3 miles. Less than a tenth of a mile after turning onto the Boulevard Trail is the junction for the Jump-Off. Although it's not an official National Park trail, it is marked with a sign. It has a few rugged sections but is easy to follow. If you still have the energy on your way back, the stunning views from this vantage point are well worth the additional one-mile roundtrip. After circling around the western flank of Mt. Kephart, the Boulevard Trail drops to an elevation of roughly 5500 feet. The trail continues by traveling in a range of 5500 to 6000 feet, until reaching the southeastern flank of Mt. LeConte where it begins to climb towards the 6593-foot summit. Roughly 0.2 miles from the summit of Mt. LeConte you'll reach a spur trail that takes you to Myrtle Point, one of two spots on the mountain that provide outstanding vantage points. You can hike the additional 0.2 miles from this junction to take in the nearly 360 degree views from this location. Myrtle Point is also the best location for sunrises on Mt. LeConte. Continuing another 0.2 miles past the Myrtle Point trail junction is the summit of Mt. LeConte, better known as High Top. You'll know that you've reached the highest point on the mountain when you reach the large cairn, or pile of rocks, just off the main trail on your left. At 6593 feet, Mt. LeConte is the third highest peak in the Smoky Mountains. However, from its immediate base to its highest peak, Mt. LeConte is the tallest mountain in the Eastern United States, rising 5301 feet from its base near Gatlinburg. You won't have any views at High Top. As mentioned, there are two places on the mountain that provide panoramic views. In addition to Myrtle Point, the other place to visit for outstanding views is known as Cliff Top, which is near the LeConte Lodge, an additional 0.3-mile hike from the summit. Descend down the other side of the mountain and begin looking for one of two social trails that fork off towards the left. Either of these will take you to Cliff Top, which is also the best location for sunset views.

backpacking
1 month ago

The path itself I did not find particularly challenging, no real rock scrambling which was great, just a few steps here and there. What was challenging in my opinion was the inclines, even on the way back there were 3 decently long inclines you had to get through. For a day trip this took about 9 hours there and back and it was more like 18 miles. Unfortunately it was completely fogged over when I stopped at cliff top and I couldn’t see anything, if I ever get back over here I think I will do it again to see the view.

hiking
2 months ago

Trail was clear except one huge tree laying in the hairpin curve just over half way to LeConte. You need to climb over a rock and through a tree or 2 to continue on the trail. At first glance it looks like the trail has ended which sucks when you've never hiked this trail.

hiking
3 months ago

Awesome trail. My favorite to get to Mt LeConte.

hiking
4 months ago

Rocky, really fun, a bit chilly we went at the end of July, bring a light long sleeves shirt!
It rained a lot the day before so some views were hard to see with all the clouds! But worth the hike!

hiking
5 months ago

It was a long but good day. Definitely worth the extra hike to Cliff Tops and Myrtle Point to see the spectacular views.

hiking
5 months ago

Difficult yet worth it for the awesome views!

hiking
5 months ago

The Mountain that got me into hiking!!

hiking
6 months ago

The long hike offers many sites. beautiful lookouts at the top of the mountain.

hiking
Saturday, September 03, 2016

Walked up to Mt Leconte Sept 1st. Cloudy and fogged in at times but could still see the beauty and majesty of the mountains. The first 1.7 miles on the Appalachian Trail is uphill all the way. After 2.7 miles on the Trail the Boulevard breaks off. For the next several miles you alternately go up and down only to dread the down because you know every foot you desend you will need to gain back. The last mile to the lodge is brutal at times but knowing the lodge is close keeps you going. Loved it, I'll be back next year hopefully with a little clearer sky's.

Monday, August 15, 2016

I started the boulevard trail newfound gap it's actually Appalachian trail traveling up the trail in early April 2016 it's was a spring day in the valley but on the Mnt it was still winter. It was a challenging hike due to the heavy snow which was at least 6 inches on some parts of the trail. Lucky for me there was zero wind that day seeing I was wearing my usual hiking shorts. I stopped a took several breaks along the way for water and to eat a light snack. This trail offers some amazing views and your literally standing on the edge of cliff. I finally made it to La Conte and I was cold wet and tired. I had a plenty of hot coffee at the lodge and after some serious thought decided to hike down Alum cave lucky for me US cellular gets service at the lodge so I called my family and had them meet me at the bottom. Over all it was an amazing adventure and I look forward to trying it again someday.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Best hike in the park , doesn't get any better than this

Monday, April 18, 2016

I started this one via rainbow falls and I believe it was 13.4 miles? I could be wrong but either way, I was sore for about a week. did this one in march while wearing work boots.... the cables that are around the bluffs, generally hip high, we're about ankle height due to the ice still being on the ground. breath taking views but I don't plan on trying this one again for a good bit

hiking
Wednesday, September 09, 2015

As you ascend the mountain, the views get more incredible and the terrain changes dramatically. One moment, you are walking through a deciduous forest and the next, you're on a sheer rock cliff. Our trip happened in December, which meant that we were climbing the mountain when there was ice on the trails...not something that mattered much when we were at a lower elevation, with wide trails, but definitely something that mattered on a cliff, when you're holding onto steel cables and trying not to slide off the two foot-wide trail to your untimely death! We would have felt a little better if we had had hiking poles and boots instead of tennis shoes. However, we've heard that this isn't such a problem when there is no ice on the trails.

As we got higher and higher into the air, our progress got slower and slower due to the ice and the heights. But we finally reached the top and it was more than worth it. The views...you can't get better than that. We wished we could have stayed at LeConte Lodge, which has bunches of little cabins at the very top of the mountain, but it closes during the winter. As we kept going, the vegetation changed again (it almost seemed like the tundra) and the trail eventually met up with the Appalachian Trail.

By the time we reached the top of the mountain, it had been several hours already. The day was starting to end, with the sun slowly creeping toward the mountaintops. However, we still had to make it down the mountain and there are no working shelters at the top or along the trail during the winter. So we had to hurry down the mountain...on the ice...as it got dark. Needless to say, that fear of heights? Eek. But we made it down safely at the last minute, with the very last light disappearing as we reached our car. No injuries! Whew :-)

Undoubtedly, this trail is our favorite to date. Even though it was terrifying at times, the views more than made up for it.

If you're interested, you can read more about our hikes at http://adventuresofblintzandmaggie.blogspot.com!

hiking
Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Strenuous but definitely worth it! Beautiful views and a wonderful experience!

hiking
Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Loved this hike!! I am from Michigan and this was one of the first mountainous hikes I have ever been on. I was amazed! It was challenging but that might be due to the fact that I am so accustomed to flat ground. Worth every second!

geocaching
Sunday, July 19, 2015

I can't express to anyone how amazing this trail was!—It was literally like traveling through different parts of the country! We started at the Alum Cave trailhead along U.S. 441 and followed the trail about 7 miles to the summit of Mt. LeConte. Along the way was beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains and what was the most memorable part was that as you progressed up the mountain, the ecosystems changed. At the bottom was more like a typical deciduous forest in Tennessee, but as we went up there was a dessert-like environment, a continental environment and then at the top was an alpine climate. It is honestly now one of my favorite trails just because of the numerous points of interests like the Alum Cave, Styx Branch, Inspiration Point, LeConte Village, and Myrtle Point. Will definitely go back and this trail will NOT disappoint. Just take caution as you progress up—there are steep drop offs and slippery rocks, but certainly worth it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

We took the rainbow falls trail and I'm a novice hiker and wouldn't consider any part of this hard except that it is long for a day hike. I was tired at the top for sure. Took us about 4 hours to get to the top with no breaks other than photos. The lower half of the trail is beautiful and the views at the top are amazing.

hiking
Thursday, July 02, 2015

Amazing views! Water available at the lodge.

hiking
Thursday, April 10, 2014

We hiked up over 6,000ft during a freaking blizzard. But we still had so much fun! We'll definitely have to go back during the summer.

hiking
Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Beautiful. Loved it. Pack some trek chains for your boots due to ice and snow during winter.

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