Hiking Project Logo

Great Smoky Mountains Peak Loop

Difficult
 4.0 (5) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

This trek takes you over some of the best spots in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Your Rating:      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add to Favorites · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

26.6

Miles

42.8

KM

Point to Point

6,581' 2,006 m

High

3,442' 1,049 m

Low

6,507' 1,983 m

Up

6,921' 2,110 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (5°)

31%

Max Grade (17°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Cave · Commonly Backpacked · River/Creek · Spring · Waterfall · Wildlife

Watch out for HWY 441 and it's closures

Overview

This near-loop takes you across some of the best gems in the whole park, including Charlies Bunion, Chimney Tops, and Alum Cave.

Need to Know

Check trail closures due to the recent fires at Chimney Tops. Also make sure HWY 441 is open, we lost a day of hiking due to road closures.

Description

This route is great, especially for hikers who are seeking summits. It can be challenging at times, but takes you over some great viewpoints and provides ample scenery. One of the best days takes you over Kephart, Charlie's Bunion and Ice Water Springs.

Day 1
We set out from the Mount LeConte parking lot and started heading to the Mt LeConte Shelter. This is definitely a hard route, but it's 100% worth it. You pass multiple over looks and go through Alum Cave Bluffs, which appear just in time to lift your spirit. The temperature on Mount Le Conte varies due to wind and elevation, so make sure you are prepared with extra layers.

Day 2
From the Mount LeConte Shelter, we set out for Kephart via the Boulevard Trail, a section of the AT and the Dry Sluice Gap Trail. This day was relatively easy, as you stay on a ridge most of the day. Make sure you check out "the jump off" near the intersection of the Boulevard Trail and the AT. The AT is well-maintained and so is the Boulevard Trail, but going down to Kephart can be tricky. It's a steep decline that is mostly singletrack until you reach the creek bed. The trail is very wet and rocky**.

**Make sure to bring water shoes because the trip down to Kephart can get wet!

Day 3
We head out to Mount Collins. This is one of the most beautiful stretches of trail on the whole trip. While hiking mostly on the AT, you pass Charlies Bunion, Kephart Knob, and many other knobs that are breathtaking. Be sure to leave early enough to make it to Mount Collins and have time to explore the trail. We left around 6 a.m. The trail up to the AT is very challenging and wet at some points, so make sure to bring water shoes. It is about 90% singletrack and requires a lot of energy. The main thing we encountered was snow, which made this hike extremely difficult. This trail is also very rocky.

Day 4
Another relatively easy hike. A lot of downhill though. Another great thing we did is got up early and had breakfast at Clingmans Dome before the hike out. The way out is the same as the way in. Relatively easy, as you are on the AT ridge most of the way. Make sure you stop at Chimney Tops on your way out.

Save some money and get a hot meal in Gatlinburg. You won't regret it.

Flora & Fauna

A lot of mountain laurel in the spring. We also took this loop during the winter and saw bobcat tracks, wild boar tracks as well as deer. We went during the winter so the wildlife was scarce but everything was beautiful.

Contacts

Shared By:

Caleb Aycock with improvements by Chandler Barnes

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 5 votes

#2871

Overall
  4.0 from 5 votes
5 Star
20%
4 Star
60%
3 Star
20%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#2,871

Overall
321 Views Last Month
10,590 Since Feb 20, 2017
Difficult

0%
0%
20%
0%
80%
0%

Photos

Stream in the Smoky Mtns.
Sep 3, 2015 near Gatlinburg, TN
Resting the legs after a long hike up. This view from atop Mt. Leconte is known as Cliff Top.
Mar 31, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Mount LeConte after a winter storm on the AT. Clouds hug the ridges and hoarfrost covers the trees.
Feb 5, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Alum Cave in the fog
Dec 30, 2015 near Gatlinburg, TN
View from Newfound Gap parking lot.
Sep 2, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Charlie's Bunion, Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Jul 19, 2017 near Gatlinburg, TN

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
Unknown See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Oct 4, 2018
Johnny Addison
10/4 - 10/6
Sep 1, 2018
George Boghdadi
30mi
Aug 7, 2018
Isaac Bozeman
Great trail also!
Jul 28, 2018
David Jones
Apr 27, 2018
Yuri Os
Oct 17, 2013
Holly Hauck