“One of many trails leading to/from Mt. Le Conte, this trail has impressive wildflowers in the spring”
— Max Willner
Great Smoky Mountain National Park closes secondary roads on a seasonal schedule due to snow. Schedules can be found here
All campsites must be registered with the park. Backcountry rules and regulations can be found here
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — Spring — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Most runners seem to prefer running up to Mt. Le Conte, and taking Bull Head Trail on the way down. From Mt. LeConte, it's over 3,000 feet down over the span of six miles.
Being at a higher elevation in the Smokies, there are plenty of opportunities to see beautiful spring blooms. There are also a lot of really nice views of the Smokies from various points on the way down. There's also a stone structure known as The Pulpit, a stone structure built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (created as part of FDR's New Deal) in the 1930s. It's a great spot to stop for a break or a picnic and enjoy the view.
After a short distance, the trail descends into the forest and back towards the Rainbow Falls Trailhead. Runers should keep an eye out for the interesting rock formations and overhangs.
Flora & Fauna
The Smokies are home to more than 1,600 species of plants, most of which produce an abundance of flowers in the spring. These species include mountain laurel, rhododendron, azalea, and many others. Spring wildflowers peak from early April through late May. To learn more about the plants of the Smokies and even get a trees and shrubs checklist, visit the park's website
As for local fauna, black bears are common in the area, along with white-tailed deer and 31 species of salamanders. Birdwatchers can spot a variety of species, notably the northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) and red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus). For more information on black bears, refer to this webpage