Okay, I admit it. I am obsessed. Not to sound like a broken record, but it was yet another beautiful fall day and so I just had to get out for a hike. Today I would be headed to what I think might be my most favorite spot in all of the Volunteer State: Mount LeConte. I have hiked up LeConte twice before. The first time was back in 2006 when Noelle and I hiked up the Alum Cave Trail. Then, back in February, I hiked up via the AT and the Boulevard. Today I would make a grand loop by hiking up the Rainbow Falls Trail and down the Bullhead Trail.
I arrived to a somewhat empty parking lot at a little after 8:45. I used the restroom, gathered my gear and then hit the trail. There was a bear warning posted at the trailhead,
Soon I came to the site where a large tree had lain across the trail. Sawyers had removed the portion of the trunk which blocked the trail and someone had done a little dendrochronology and counted the rings. They marked off increments of ten rings for a total of over 270 of them.
I continued to ascend up the trail,
Soon the ecosystem started to change a bit. There were still deciduous trees, but the rocky path wound through a largely coniferous forest.
Before I knew it I was at LeConte Lodge,
It was a quick jaunt over to the large summit cairn. I snapped another photo of myself standing next to it
The hike down the Bullhead Trail went pretty quickly. There were not as many views as I had expected on this trail and so not much of a reason to stop. The trail bed itself is one of the more remarkable aspects of the trail. It is carved into the side of the mountain creating the feeling of hiking along a cliff in many areas.
At the end of the Bullhead Trail I was surprised by the sight of an NPS pickup truck parked at the junction with the Old Sugarlands Trail.