LeConte Lodge
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LeConte Lodge, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
No roads reach these 10 mountaintop cabins, which receive supplies by helicopter and by llama trains (on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), so all guests walk up via one of five hiking trails. The Alum Cave Trail is the shortest and most panoramic (and therefore most popular) but in summer 2016, it’s only open Friday through Sunday to allow for trail reconstruction efforts midweek. The Boulevard Trail is a fine alternate, following a ridgeline to offer big views of these green, rolling mountains, while the Bullhead Trail shows off thickets of flowering rhododendron (the pink ones bloom in June, and the white ones in August). Propane heaters and wool blankets make the cabins cozy, but pack plenty of warm layers, because this summit can be 15 degrees cooler than the surrounding valleys. And you’ll want to stay out in the brisk morning and evening hours to watch the sunrise and sunset from viewpoints located within a mile of the cabins. Family-style dinners and breakfasts are included in your stay, and you can BYOB or buy a bottomless glass of wine for $11 (available only during the dinner hour). Even rain can’t spoil the ambiance, because rocking chairs beneath the lounge’s spacious covered deck provide a restful place to listen to the showers and admire the glistening trees.
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