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LeConte Lodge, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TNNo 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.
AFAR Local Expert
about 5 years ago
Best Adventure Hike in The Smokies
There are many trails in the Smokies that lead up to the infamous Mt. LeConte Lodge. The best one by far is the Alum Cave Trail. This trail reveals the most beautiful parts of the Smokies providing a variety of spectacular rock features and views, all-the-while offering an adventurous trail to the top. During rainy weather, the rocky trail offers the assistance of metal cables as things can get very slippery up there. There are also spots that are fairly narrow so those afraid of heights feel slightly more secure hanging on to the cables. If you can get a reservation at the Lodge for an overnight trip, it's worth the strenuous trip 5 miles up to 6k in elevation. A day trip is also entirely possible as I have done but count on a little over 11 miles of hiking in one day if you decide to explore the gorgeous overlooks at the Cliff Tops and Myrtle Point.