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Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park
by Kevin Adams (Falcon Guides)
It doesn’t get much better than this! Every able person who visits the Smokies is encouraged to make this hike at least once, even if you can’t stand a crowd. If continuing the 2.7 miles from the bluffs to Mount LeConte, this hike would rank high among the best in the park. Even if you stop at the bluffs and backtrack as outlined in this hike, it’s still hard to beat. Of course, there always seems to be a downside. Any day between spring and fall and on weekends during the winter, you can expect to encounter a few billion people on this hike.
Top Trails: Great Smoky Mountains National Park - 2nd Edition
by Johnny Molloy (Wilderness Press)
Some hikes are busy for a reason. This one has several, including highlights ranging from spectacular views to old-growth forests to a natural arch—rare for the Smokies—and finally to an overhanging bluff with views of its own. A well-timed hike will let you enjoy these highlights on a less-crowded day.
Winter offers the most solitude on this busy trek. Otherwise, try to hike early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the crowds. This trail was rehabilitated in 2016.
by Kelley Roark and Stuart Carroll (Falcon Guides)
This 5.9-mile (11.8 miles out and back) trail in the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is deceptively challenging, but provides a variety in trail experiences as you make your way from the river at the bottom, past caves and massive overhangs, and along steep inclines, to reach the LeConte Lodge at the top.The Alum Cave Trail is not for the faint of heart, especially if you have determined to take it on in less than ideal conditions, such as during any type of rainy or cold weather. The way can become muddy and/or slippery, and it gets cold at the higher elevations. When snow is melting, giant, sharp icicles from the cave ceiling can fall and impale a person, and the hike is almost as challenging going down as it is going up, because of steep inclines.
Best Easy Day Hikes: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
by Randy Johnson (Falcon Guides)
Mount LeConte is the park’s most spectacular peak, and the cozy accommodations of LeConte Lodge, not to mention bountiful (but simple) meals, make an overnight on this mountain one of eastern America’s real adventures.
It’s not easy, but because there’s food and a warm bed waiting on top, this memorable hike is often tackled by well-equipped, motivated novices in good shape. It’d be a lot more difficult if you were backpacking!
Great Hike very crowded in early spring. Start early in order to get parking spot.
This is a great trail that runs along the stream. Great sights
We started our hike at about 9:45 a.m. on a Thursday. The parking was already pretty packed. We saw quite a few people on the trail, but we still wouldn't consider it crowded. There were groups that were together and there were long breaks in between where we didn't see anybody. I have to say, though, everyone we met was very friendly. We only went up to Alum Cave Bluffs; we did not continue on to Le Conte. Keep in mind when reading this review, my wife and I are in our mid 40s and not in the best shape of our lives. We've been hiking for years, but our hiking has dwindled down to just a couple of times a year. We're hoping to improve that again, though. So, we disagreed with this being rated a "moderate" trail. We've been on other moderate trails before that weren't this strenuous. I think the thing that got to us the most was the ascent. The trail in a lot of places is rocky and there are quite a few stairs/steps in addition to the uphill grades. The rocks were wet and some of them were slippery, but there were guide wires to hang onto. I agree a lot with what the previous reviewer said. There are four log crossings (that's what they call them) which are logs across the streams with cables on one side to steady yourself. There were some older people (late 60s to early 70s) on the trail and some were doing great while others were struggling. There was even a couple on the trail that were carrying their small children! (Kudos to them!) Even with the difficulty and how tired we were doing this hike, the rewards were very well worth it. There were awesome views and we took some great photos (if I do say so myself). The only wildlife we came across was some birds, a squirrel, and a baby snake. I say this because my wife was somewhat worried about bears. It was a great hike. We would definitely do it again but maybe get ourselves a little more in shape and prepared before we do. I'll be posting some pics soon.
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