Great Smoky Mountains End-to-End (Smokemont to Gatlinburg)

Last week we met my parents and sister Caroline for a week in the Smokies (separate blog post incoming), and my brother and his girlfriend Kelsey were able to come for a few days too. My brother and I spent Friday (6/2/17) completing another one of my bucket list hikes – a south to north traverse of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. (Roughly speaking, that is…technically we started about a quarter mile inside the southern border, and finished about a quarter mile outside the northern border).

Total distance 26.1 miles; total elevation gain 6,164 feet. 

We left Trent’s car in Gatlinburg, and Dad was nice enough to drop us off in Smokemont at 6:30 am so we could get an early start.

Climbing up toward the AT

The first 4 miles or so was a very gradual uphill walk along a stream, so we knocked it out in just a little over one hour. After that, the trail began winding more steeply uphill for another 4+ miles until connecting with the Appalachian Trail, just east of Charlies Bunyon.

View from the AT

Fortunately we reached the higher elevations before the heat of the day set in, and stayed above 4000 feet for most of the day.

Near Charlies Bunyon

Charlies Bunyon

We followed the Appalachian Trail for a few miles before joining up with the Boulevard Trail, which we followed for another ~5.4 miles to the top of Mt. LeConte. Along the way we stopped for a short detour to see the Jump Off – a steep cliff offering some more partially cloud-obstructed views.

Trent and I at the Jump Off

We made it to Mt. Leconte around 1pm, taking another detour along the way to see Myrtle Point.

Myrtle Point

“True Summit” of LeConte

There are 5 different trails leading to the Summit of Mt. Leconte, with lots of interesting history and “trail records” between them (fastest time to climb all 5 trails, most total times climbing all 5 trails, fastest time up and down each of the 5 trails, etc.). About a year and a half ago, Trent and I got to do 3 of the 5 trails by climbing LeConte twice in a day (SEE HERE).

So by ascending via the Boulevard and descending via Rainbow Falls, we were able to finish #4 and #5 to complete the list. Interestingly, the Bullhead Trail which we did previously is now closed because of damage from the wildfires last year.

Areas of fire damage on the Rainbow Falls trail

Looking down toward Gatlinburg from halfway up LeConte

Rainbow Falls

We finished almost exactly 11 hours after leaving from Smokemont, including an hour or so of breaks for food, pictures, etc.

Published in: on June 5, 2017 at 1:14 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great post! Nice job…I would have liked to join you but would have surely added hours to the journey! Love, Dad

  2. Super! Grammy R.

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