There are multiple ways to reach Mt. LeConte; the Alum Cave Trail and Trillium Gap Trail are two of the most popular routes. Below is a description for both routes:
VIA ALUM CAVE TRAIL:
The first section of this trail takes you on a gently grade to Arch Rock, at 1.3 miles. This arch was created over time as erosion chiseled away soft limestone rock. Continue past Arch Rock, and at approximately 2 miles, you will reach aptly named Inspiration Point, where you will have extraordinary views of Peregrine Peak—and it’s subsequent Little Duck Hawk Ridge and Eye of the Needle. A bit after Inspiration Point, you will come to Alum Cave, an 80-foot by 500-foot concave bluff. Above Alum Cave, the trail becomes narrow and exposed, with handrails drilled into the cliff for help. After this section, the trail levels out, and you will come to the Rainbow Falls Trail junction; take a right to the summit of Mount LeConte. First, you will come across LeConte Lodge
, a historic backcountry lodge (and the highest guest lodge in the eastern United States); as you continue past it for .2 miles, you will come to Cliff Top, offering remarkable panoramic views of the Smokies. For the best vantage point, you can travel another .4 miles to Myrtle Point, and your efforts are rewarded with 360° views of mountains as far as the eye can see. This is an out-and-back trail, so when you are ready, follow the signs and head down the trail.
VIA TRILLIUM GAP TRAIL:
Begin on Trillium Gap Trail, and you will continue on this trail for a majority of the hike to Mount LeConte. The first section of the trail traverses through an old-growth forest speckled with vibrant wildflowers. At 1.3 miles, you will reach Grotto Falls—the only waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that you can stand behind. As you continue past Grotto Falls, the crowds thin, and the trail climbs upward. You will come to a trail junction for Brushy Mountain Trail; continuing straight will actually lead you to Brushy Mountain and Greenbrier, so you will want to take a right, continuing on the Trillium Gap Trail. At 6.6 miles, you will reach LeConte Lodge
, but for the best views you should travel past the lodge for .3 miles to Cliff Top, or .7 miles to Myrtle Point. Mount LeConte is the third tallest peak in the Smokies, but from it’s base in Gatlinburg, it rises 5301 feet, making it one of the tallest peaks in the eastern United States.