Great Smoky Mountains Peak Loop
ElevationAscent: 6,507' 1,983 m
Descent: -6,921' -2,110 m
High: 6,581' 2,006 m
Low: 3,442' 1,049 m
GradeAvg Grade: 10% (5°)
Max Grade: 31% (17°)
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“This trek takes you over some of the best spots in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”— Caleb Aycock
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.
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!
We head out to Mount Collins. This is one of the most beautiful stretches of trail on the whole trip. While running 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 run extremely difficult. This trail is also very rocky.
Another relatively easy run. A lot of downhill though. Another great thing we did is got up early and had breakfast at Clingmans Dome before the run 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.
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Land Manager: NPS - Great Smoky Mountains National Park