National Park Week

This is the last weekend of National Park Week, your last chance to visit one of our nation’s beautiful parks for FREE! Check out National Geographic’s Best Hikes in the Parks for some inspiration. If you live in the southeastern US, you can check out one of our favorite hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains. It made the top 20 list! I am reblogging our excursion below. Now get out and take a hike this weekend. Somewhere, anywhere….just get out there!

The Hike to Mount LeConte (Alum Cave Trail)

Wow. If you are looking for a great trail, here it is! This is definitely one of the most scenic trails in all of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fantastic–one of the best trails we’ve ever hiked. It was a strenuous hike and by the end of it our legs were about to completely give out…but it was totally worth it.

The trail is roughly a 10 mile round trip that can be completed in 6-8 hours (or less, if you’re really booking it…we did it in 5 excluding our hour break at the top). It encompasses an elevation gain of over 2,500 feet and boasts spectacular views, very steep ascents, narrow rock ledges, paths through both old growth forest and cove forest, and gorgeous views of the Alum Cave Creek and Styx Branch. At the summit, the trail ends near the LeConte Lodge which sits at an elevation of roughly 6,500 feet. We decided to take a break at the lodge before heading back down the mountain. And yes, the only way to get to the lodge is to hike up the mountain! It’s a pretty neat place (very primitive but absolutely a very nice place) and next time we will be making reservations to stay there overnight. All I can say is that if you like to hike and you don’t mind a work out, give this trail a try. You will not be disappointed!

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