Alum Cave Trail
Alum Cave Trail and associated parking areas will be closed May 4 through November 19 in 2015, excluding federal holidays, on Monday mornings at 7:00 a.m. through Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m. weekly. Due to the construction process on the narrow trail, a full closure is necessary for the safety of both the crew and visitors. Hikers can still reach Mt. Le Conte, LeConte Lodge, and the LeConte Shelter by using one of the other five trails to the summit. The Mt. LeConte Lodge and Mt. LeConte backcountry shelter will remain open and can be accessed from any of these other routes during the Alum Cave Trail closure. For more information about the Alum Cave Trail closure, please visit http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/alum-cave-closure-faqs.htm where you can find answers to frequently asked questions and updates on the trail restoration.
Start at the Alum Cave parking area on Newfound Gap Road, 8.5 miles south of Park Headquarters and Sugarlands Visitor’s Center in Gatlinburg. From Cherokee, North Carolina go north on Hwy 441, Newfound Gap Road past Newfound Gap Overlook Parking area. The parking areas will be about 5 miles from Newfound Gap Overlook on your right. Distance to LeConte Lodge®: 5.5 miles. Net climb: 2,560 feet. Although strenuous on the ascent, it is the easiest return from the summit. At the lower portion see Alum Cave Creek, Arch Rock, Alum Cave Bluff (an excellent overlook) at 2.3 miles and national park service interpretive signs. At the upper portion, below Cliff Top, is a narrow cleft across a steep open slope with cables installed for handholds. In winter, this part of the trail may be choked with ice hummocks covering the cables, so use extra caution. Note the large red spruce and tulip trees along the way and flowering rhododendron in late June.
- Parking Lot Latitude: 35.63014
- Parking Lot Longitude: – 83.44936
The Boulevard Trail
Start at the Newfound Gap parking lot off of Hwy 441, Newfound Gap Road. About 16 miles from Gatlinburg, TN or 18 miles from Cherokee, NC. You will follow the Appalachian Trail for 2.7 miles to the junction where the Boulevard Trail branches left (North). Total distance to LeConte Lodge®: 8 miles. Net Climb: 1080 feet. The Boulevard Trail is a rolling trail following a narrow ridge with steep forested slopes on both sides; the trail is steep at the final ascent to LeConte Lodge®. You may occasionally encounter ice and snow in early spring and late fall on this trail. An interesting side trail just past the junction with the Appalachian Trail leads right 0.4 miles to the top of cliffs at the Jumpoff, with striking views of Charlie’s Bunion and upper Greenbrier Cove. Myrtle Point and Cliff Top offer other excellent views. Note red spruce and balsam firs along the way.
Parking Lot Coordinates:
- Parking Lot Latitude: 35.61084
- Parking Lot Longitude: – 83.42509
Start on the Rainbow Falls – Bullhead parking lot at 3.4 miles on Cherokee Orchard Road (a two-way road). In Gatlinburg turn at traffic light #8 and follow Historic Nature Trail (Airport Road) into Great Smoky Mountains National Park where road becomes Cherokee Orchard Road. Continue past the Noah “Bud” Ogle homesite to the clearly signed Rainbow Falls parking area. If this parking area is full there is an overflow area about .1 miles further down the road. Distance to LeConte Lodge®: 7.2 miles. Net climb: 3820 feet. Rainbow Falls Trail, which originates at the same parking lot, rejoins Bullhead at mile 6.4. Fine lookoffs at the Bullhead and a heath bald. Note red spruce and balsam firs along the way and the Bullhead Heath for spring blooms. The Bullhead Trail offers magnificent autumn scenery.
Parking Lot Coordinates:
- Parking Lot Latitude: 35.67582
- Parking Lot Longitude: – 83.48527
Rainbow Falls Trail
Start on the Rainbow Falls – Bullhead parking lot at 3.4 miles on Cherokee Orchard Road (a two-way road). (See directions to Bullhead trail as these trails use the same parking area). Distance to LeConte Lodge®: 6.5 miles. Net climb: 3,820 feet. Bullhead Trail, which originates at the same parking lot, rejoins Rainbow Falls Trail at mile 5.8. Note Rainbow Falls at mile 2.4. LeConte Creek forcibly erupts over the rocks and can freeze solid in the winter. See impressive overlooks at 5.0 miles. In late June, Rocky Spur is a good place to see flowering rhododendron.
Trillium Gap Trail
Start at the Grotto Falls parking lot at mile 1.7 on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (a one-way road, closed in winter, no RVs or trailers permitted).
In Gatlinburg, turn at traffic light #8 and follow Historic Nature Trail into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Continue past the Rainbow Falls Parking area to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Distance to LeConte Lodge®: 6.5 miles. Net climb: 3,300 feet. If you park at Rainbow Falls Parking area you will add 2 miles to the hike. See Grotto Falls at mile 1.5. Note Roaring Fork Creek, one of the steepest streams in the park. Also note red spruce and at higher elevations, fraser fir. As you walk the trail between Grotto Falls and Trillium Gap, listen for underground streams roaring through the rocks. Trillium Gap Trail is the trail the llamas use to get to the Lodge on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Parking Lot Coordinates:
- Parking Lot Latitude: 35.68037
- Parking Lot Longitude: – 83.46243