For those of you who have yet to cross this epic hike off your trail list, here are some simple hacks for maximizing your Mt. LeConte experience and even (possibly) scoring reservations at one of the most popular hike-in lodges in America.
1. Know Thy Trail
While all roads may lead to one of the highest mountain peaks in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, some trails to the LeConte Lodge take more time and while others can rank higher on the strenuous scale. Depending on the season, hikers can typically make their way up to the Lodge by means of five different trails. Find out which route best fits your schedule and skill level before you go.
A good hiker knows that tackling an elevated hike like the one up to Mt. LeConte means you must dress smart for the occasion. If its winter, dress in breathable fabrics and layer them on. In summer, don’t underestimate the Tennessee heat or even the ascending temperature change (nights can drop into the 30’s degree range even in summer). Other recommendations include a flashlight, rain gear, snacks, hand towel for a sponge bath, sturdy shoes, and water. At the top, there is an outdoor pump where hikers can refill their water supplies.
3. The Best View Spots
Imagine sweeping, panoramic views as far as the eye can see and you have a small idea of the mountain beauty that awaits you at two of Mt. LeConte’s best lookout points. Cliff Top is the name of one of these lookout points and is less than a mile walk from the Lodge. A second favorite spot for show-stopping views is Myrtle Point, just a short hike from the grounds of the Lodge. Be sure to grab a camera - the overlooks at both spots make for jaw-dropping photographs.
4. Accommodations for Day-Hikers
If you can’t nab that reservation to stay overnight at the Lodge, never fear. LeConte Lodge offers a trail-approved sack lunch that will keep you energized and hikers are welcome to explore the grounds and stop by the main office. Day-Hikers can purchase their lunch for $11, plus additional treats and beverages if parties arrive between 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
5. Cabin Life at LeConte
At the Lodge guests trade modern life for rustic cabin life, complete with rocking chairs on the porch that are idle for your enjoying your morning coffee and watching the sunrise. Lodging amenities include Kerosene lanterns for light, Propane heaters for warmth on colder nights, fresh linens, and a small washbasin. Guests receive a hearty country breakfast and dinner, with the option of limitless wine throughout the meal.
6. Reservations Secrets
Believe it or not, the best-kept secret to securing those much sought-after reservations at LeConte Lodge is as simple as checking Twitter. LeConte Lodge posts useful tidbits for hikers, such as weather conditions and trail closures almost daily on their Twitter. However, every once in a while, a cancellation will be announced and lodgings will go up for grabs. This is a great resource for those that can plan their mountain trip to the Smokies at a minute’s notice or for those trying to secure a reservation during popular visiting seasons.
Finally, the last thing you need to do in order to jumpstart your trek up to LeConte Lodge is simple - make your reservation today!