Located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mount LeConte is indeed an East Tennessee treasure. The third highest peak in the park, Mount LeConte features an elevation high enough, at nearly 6,600 feet, to attract experienced climbers and beginners who wish to go hiking in the Smokies.
How Did Mount LeConte Get Its Name?
Though Mount LeConte is a beautiful Smoky Mountain destination, the story of how Mount LeConte received its name is a mystery to everyone. The ultimate question: “Which brother, Joseph or John, was responsible for giving Mount LeConte its name?”
Some sources note that the mountain was named after Joseph LeConte, a famous geologist. However, the authors of a contemporary book titled “A Natural History of Mount LeConte” have made their own suggestion. Their research suggests that the beautiful Mount LeConte was actually named after Joseph LeConte’s less famous, older brother, John. John LeConte was a South Carolina physicist. According to the book, Mount LeConte was so named by Samuel Buckley, a noted geologist, botanist and naturalist. Apparently, he named the mountain after John LeConte to honor him for a good deed. Still, today, no one knows which brother is responsible for the name of the mountain.
About Mount LeConte
Even though Mount LeConte was measured in the mid-19th century, it wasn’t actively explored until Paul Adams became a member of the Great Smoky Mountain Conservation Association in the 1920s. The group’s goal was to make the region a national park. To that end, Adams began an expedition. He wanted them to see the exquisite beauty and rugged splendor the Smoky Mountains held.
Mount LeConte stands at 6,593 feet tall, making it the third highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, behind Clingmans Dome and Mount Guyot. It has 4 subpeaks, each offering its own set of panoramic views. Many hikers love heading to Mount LeConte to catch a Smoky Mountain sunrise or sunset!
How to Get to Mount LeConte
There are 5 different trails that lead to the summit of Mount LeConte. Although these hikes can be challenging, the views from the top make every step worth it. Here are the Smoky Mountain hiking trails that take you to Mount LeConte:
Alum Cave Trail
Alum Cave Trail is a 5.5 mile hike one-way to Mount LeConte. This is the shortest, yet steepest, path to the summit. Along the hike, you’ll have the chance to see Inspiration Point, Arch Rock and the Alum Cave Bluffs.
The Boulevard Trail
The Boulevard Trail is an 8-mile hike to Mount LeConte. If you take this trail to the summit, you’ll have an elevation gain of about 3,000 feet! It follows the ridgeline of the mountain, which means you’ll have stunning views most of the hike!
Bullhead Trail is a total distance of about 14.4 miles to Mount LeConte and back. It actually shares a trailhead with Rainbow Falls! You’ll pass several rock cliff faces, two small caves, Balsam Point and more.
Rainbow Falls Trail
You may have hiked Rainbow Falls Trail to the famous waterfall before, but you can continue along the trail for an extra 4 miles to the summit of Mount LeConte. This is one of the most rewarding ways to get to the summit because you’ll have views of the 80-foot waterfall and the panoramic views from Mount LeConte. If choose this hike, however, be ready for a 3,993 foot elevation gain!
Trillium Gap Trail
The Trillium Gap Trail is about a 14-mile roundtrip hike to Mount LeConte. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to see Grotto Falls, a 25-foot waterfall you can walk behind! You also may have the chance to see llamas when you hike this trail. The llamas are used to carry supplies to Mount LeConte and take the Trillium Gap Trail to get there!
Today, Mount LeConte gets a lot more attention from avid hikers. If you are planning a trip up the mountain to Mount LeConte, stay in one of our beautiful Gatlinburg cabins. All of our cabins are fully-equipped and will be a great place to relax after hiking in the Smokies!
Take a look at all of our gorgeous Gatlinburg cabin rentals and plan your trip to the Smoky Mountains!