Hiking Project Logo

Mount Leconte: 6-Routes 3-Summits

Difficult

Trail

47.4 mile 76.2 kilometer point to point
Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 10,186' 3,105 m
Descent: -13,373' -4,076 m
High: 6,571' 2,003 m
Low: 1,898' 579 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 30% (17°)

Dogs

No Dogs
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Anthony Groft

Experience ALL of Leconte in a single hike!

Anthony Groft

Features Birding · Cave · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Be sure to check current conditions before heading out.

Overview

Mount Leconte is the second highest point in Tennessee and the highest point in TN that does not have a paved road to the top (looking at you Clingmans Dome...). Leconte drawing tens of thousands of hikers each year, who generally pick one of the 6 main routes to one of the 3 major summits.

You really can't go wrong when picking a route or a summit destination on Leconte, but what if you picked all 6 routes and all 3 summits, would this make you more right?

Need to Know

Access:
No fees to entering the park or for day use of the trails. Overnight camping is permitted/fee-based.

All trailheads on this route (with the exception of Porters Creek) can become crowded, parking may be hard to find.

Facilities:
Pit toilets are located at each trailhead (with the exception of Porters Creek) and are generally unlocked. Pit toilets are seasonally open at the Lodge on Leconte and a privy is located behind the Leconte Shelter.

Water:
Water is petty much available year-round at the Lodge on Leconte either from a potable tap or a spring. Streams and creeks intersect most trail sections as you reach lower elevations. All spring, stream, and creek water should be treated.

Weather:
You'll cover elevations between 1,800 feet and 6,500', the weather can vary greatly across these elevations in the Smokies.

Description

The 6 main routes on Leconte are:
#1 Alum Cave Trail
#2 Boulevard Trail (with a section of the Appalachian Trail from Newfound Gap)
#3 Rainbow Falls Trail
#4 Trillium Gap Trail
#5 Bull Head Trail (with a section of Old Sugarlands Trail)
#6 Brushy Mountain Trail (with sections of Porters Creek Trail and Trillium Gap Trail).

At the bottom of this description, there are links for detailed descriptions of each of the 6 routes.

The 3 main summits of Leconte are:
#1 Mount Leconte 6,593'
#2 Cliff Top 6,555'
#3 Myrtle Point 6,443'

The hike described below follows a route that minimizes mileage and total gain while linking all six routes and reaching all three summits.

While the hike is intended to be continuous, it can be broken down into four somewhat equal sections for planning:

Section #1: Newfound Gap to Alum Cave Trailhead (~14 miles/2,800' gain/3,900 loss)
Beginning at Newfound Gap (35.6111, -83.4250) head north on the Appalachian Trail 2.7 miles to Boulevard Trail. Follow Boulevard Trail 5.1 miles to Myrtle Point Trail, hike out and back to Mrytle Point. Continue on Boulevard Trail another 0.25 miles to Cliff Top Trail. Follow Cliff Top Trail over Cliff Top then down to Rainbow Falls Trail. Head down Rainbow Falls Trail past lodge to Alum Cave Trail. Head down Alum Cave trail 5 miles to the trailhead on HWY 441 (35.6295, -83.4515). This completes Section #1 and at this point, you have complete 2 of the 6 routes and cross all 3 summits!

Section #2: Alum Cave Trailhead to Rainbow Falls Trailhead (~12 miles/2,700' gain/3,900' loss)
From the Alum Cave Trailhead on HWY 441 head back up Alum Cave Trail 5 miles to Rainbow Falls Trail. Turn left and head down Rainbow Falls Trail 0.5 miles to Bull Head Trail. Head down Bull Head Trail 5.9 miles to Old Sugarlands Trail, turn right and travel 0.5 miles to Rainbow Falls Trailhead on Cherokee Orchard Road (35.6757, -83.4857). This completes Section #2 and at this point, you have complete 3 of the 6 routes and cross all summits!

Section #3: Rainbow Falls Trailhead to Trillium Gap Trailhead (~13 miles/3,700'gain/3,100' loss)
From the Rainbow Falls Trailhead on Cherokee Orchard Road head up Rainbow Falls Trail 6.5 miles to Trillium Gap Trail. Head down Trillium Gap Trail 6.5 miles to the trailhead on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (35.6802, -83.4627). This completes Section #3 and at this point, you have complete 5 of the 6 routes and cross all summits!

Section #4: Trillium Gap Trailhead to Porter Creek Trailhead (~9 miles/1,400' gain/2,800' loss)
From Trillium Gap Trailhead on Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail back up Trillium Gap Trail 2.9 miles to Brushy Mountain Trail. Head down Brushy Mountain Trail and Porters Creek Trail 5.5 miles to Porters Creek Trailhead on Greenbrier Road (35.6969, -83.3877). This completes Section #4, all 6 routes, 3 summits, and the RUN!!!

Detailed Route Descriptions:
Alum Cave Trail: hikinginthesmokys.com/lecon…
Boulevard Trail: hikinginthesmokys.com/lecon…
Rainbow Falls Trail: hikinginthesmokys.com/lecon…
Trillium Gap Trail: hikinginthesmokys.com/lecon…
Bull Head Trail: hikinginthesmokys.com/lecon…
Brushy Mountain Trail: hikinginthesmokys.com/brush…

Flora & Fauna

Visit the NPS website for more information.

History & Background

Visit the NPS website for more information.

Contacts

Rate This Hike

Rate Quality


   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In

Check-Ins

none

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 2 votes

#2

in Newfound Gap

#1400

Overall
  5.0 from 2 votes
5 Star
100%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Hike Rankings

#2

in Newfound Gap

#1,400

Overall
103 Views Last Month
159 Since Mar 17, 2020
Difficult

0%
0%
0%
0%
100%
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
Leave Only Your Footprints. The scene from Grotto Falls after a February morning snow fall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From Dec. to mid-March, the trail begins at the Rainbow Falls Trailhead (6 miles r/t). Rest of the year, you can begin at Trillium Gap Trailhead for a 2.6-mile hike.
Apr 7, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Rainbow Falls
Sep 4, 2015 near Gatlinburg, TN
Grotto Falls
Sep 4, 2015 near Gatlinburg, TN
Alum Cave in the fog
Dec 30, 2015 near Gatlinburg, TN

0 Comments