The only way to get to LeConte Lodge in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is to hike up a mountain. To stay the night, you need to make reservations far in advance. We sent in our reservation request in August last year and then waited till the October 1 drawing of names. We did not get our first choice of dates (mid-October for the fall colors) but got our second choice of April 5.
When the date got near, it was still cold and snowy at the top near the lodge. So we bought Stabilicers and IceTrekkers. We also had to pack layers since the weather at the bottom trailhead was fairly warm, but it was freezing at the summit.
We started on the Rainbow Falls trail in the morning with the weather a little cold and foggy. As you can see on the elevation chart below, the trail goes up and up almost constantly. Due to rain and snow in recent days, the trail was quite muddy.
It was good that we brought the ice cleats as the last 1.5 miles of the trail was covered with snow and ice.
We got to the LeConte Lodge in the afternoon and enjoyed some amazing views.
After dinner, I went to Myrtle Point for a nice view of the sunset.
There was no electricity in our cabin, but it was warm due to a propane heater.
The next morning, weather was a little warmer. We had planned to go down the Bullhead trail, but it had not been cleared after the winter storms, so we headed back the same way we had come. Here’s the map for our return hike.