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“We Really Enjoyed Our LeConte Lodge Adventure”
Review of LeConte Lodge

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LeConte Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed June 13, 2010

My wife and I hiked to LeConte Lodge last week via the Alum Cave trail. It was great. The Alum Cave trail is difficult but not terribly so. You definitely feel like you have accomplished something when you reach the lodge. The hike is beautiful - gorgeous views, mountain streams, all kinds of flora and fauna. The hike up was sunny and clear. The next day, on the way down, rainy and foggy. Both conditions offer a totally different perspective on the trail.

The people staffing the lodge were friendly and nice. Food was very good and satisfying. Rooms were comfortable and the beds large. We hiked a short distance up from the lodge to view the sunset. It was incredible. There were several people there and it was a very festive mood. When the sun finally sank below the horizon there was spontaneous clapping, it was that cool.

Breakfast the next day was a 8:00 am and was hearty and tasty. Saw a bear on the way down. When we yelled it ran thru the woods like a scared puppy. It was neat to see though. Even though climbing Alum Cave is fairly strenuous, coming down is a breeze.

We'll definitely do LeConte Lodge again.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank bluestraveler67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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129 - 135 of 142 reviews

Reviewed December 17, 2009

I am quite surprised by the last 2 reviews. I have hiked and stayed on Mt. LeConte numerous times (at least once a year for the last several years) - last in June of 09. If you are looking for a swanky hotel with all the amenities, then this is definitely NOT for you. However, if you are a lover of nature and enjoy hiking and backpacking, then there is no experience like this anywhere else.

On this trip up, I hiked Alum Cave trail with three kids, ages 13, 12 and 9. My kids have made this hike with no problem since the youngest was 5 - but we are very active, outdoorsy folks so this type of activity is not unusual for them. It was pouring rain the entire way up, yet when we arrived we were greeted warmly by the staff and shown to our quarters, once dry we got the welcoming hot chocolate. Dinner was very a hearty and plentiful hikers meal, and it is always great to have an opportunity to meet other people who come from all over to experience this unique lodging opportunity in the National Park. By sunset, the clouds had dropped down and the view from Cliff Tops was phenomenal, every bit worth the hike.

If you are lucky enough to get a clear day, there are fantastic views all the way up the mountain. Alum Cave trail is very strenuous and steep, particularly past the bluffs - but you get panoramic views in many spots on the trail. The vegetation changes a great deal on the climb because of the elevation change, so if you are a lover of vegetation or natural flowers, you will not be disappointed by the hike.

The cabins are indeed rustic but warm and dry, and there are flush toilets available for guests. New this year they are offering day hiker services as well, including a hikers lunch. Staff was very pleasant (this would be the same staff that the last two reviewers said were rude and unwelcoming?) and met all of our needs. There are a variety of cabin styles to meet the needs of many different types of groups.

I can't wait to get up the mountain again and my entire family will be back in June. I am looking forward to taking another trail up, since we are going on a Wednesday I hope to follow the llamas up Trillium Gap.

Stayed: June 2009, traveled with family
2  Thank savtrav22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 6, 2009

Hiked to the lodge many times over the years. Finally decided to take the family and spend the night. There was four men staying in a cabin who were obviously drunk and talking so loudly you couldn't help but hear them all over the mountain top. At dinner we ended up being sat at the same table as the drinking men, who were served wine even though we had young children at the table and there were empty tables not being used in the dining room. The men spilled the water on the table and the staff never offered to help just kept pouring the wine to them. The food was horrible.
Had to ask unpleasant staff to turn the heat up in freezing cabins. Was so bad I'll probably never even hike the trail again.
Wouldn't recommend this Lodge to anyone that has children or doesnt drink. The staff was unconcerned if we were happy or not just as long as you got out. The park service should change the management because they dont deserve the priveledge of running such a magnificent site.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled with family
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13  Thank tnfamily007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LeConteLodge, Manager at LeConte Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded December 23, 2009

We're terribly sorry when anyone has a negative experience at the lodge. It seems the lodge management was quite in the dark about the unpleasant mis-match between this guest and his/her table mates. We have an enforced "quiet time" at 10:00 each evening, and if asked by guests, we do sometimes have to ask a boisterous party to be considerate and quiet down. We do try hard to make each vistor's experience a comforable and pleasant one--it's our main task every day at work. However, we do serve hot homeade cornbread, biscuits and chocolate-chip cookies that most of our guests do enjoy.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 18, 2009

The positive things about LeConte Lodge:
1. The beautiful hike in (it took 3 1/2 hours to hike up via Alum Cave trail which is a well maintained trail)
2. The propane heaters in the cabins (controls are locked and can only be adjusted by an employee before 9:00 pm)
3. The comfortable beds
4. The line for drying clothes in cabin. (There are plenty of nails and hooks in the walls for hanging but the line was extra nice to have. Throw in an extra piece of rope.)
5. Kerosene lamps in room
6. Hot water faucet available on outside kitchen wall for guest use.
7. Apple butter served at breakfast

Negative things about Leconte Lodge:
It was pouring rain when we arrived at the lodge building marked office/registration at 11:30 AM. We sat for 20 minutes waiting for someone to come and check us in. When no one came we went back out into the rain, made our way to the dining hall, and inquired about the registration process. We were told no one would be in the office until 12:30 Since we were soaking wet and cold we asked if it would be possible to go ahead and get our cabin assignment so we could change into dry clothes. It was a hassle getting our cabin number including having to go back out in the rain to the office/registration building, spelliing our name multiple times, and then being told our reservation was for a party of 4 instead of 2. Finally we were given a cabin number and told we could came back later to get other guest information about mealtimes, etc. We went to the assigned cabin, changed clothes, and had just finished hanging up all our wet gear when someone knocked on the door and politely told us we were given the wrong cabin number and would have to move to a different cabin. So......we repacked all the wet gear and moved to a different cabin which was actually roomier than the first one. This is a good thing because at this point our fun meter at Leconte Lodge had almost pegged. Supper was adequate institutional type food (watery soup, canned meat, canned peach for dessert)but our gracious table mates made it taste better. Breakfast food was of better quality. The crew was never introduced, and we weren't sure who was in charge. In fact, we had gotten instructions from one person we assumed was a crew member and later discovered was another guest. No effort for guest interaction was made at meals except with those seated at the same table. We have stayed at other hike-in-lodges and seen great examples of much more professionally managed facilities in even more remote conditions than LeConte. Next time we'll just hike in and out the same day.

  • Stayed: October 2009, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank TheSouthWetHiker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LeConteLodge, owner/manager at LeConte Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded December 20, 2009

We're going to make sure that a sign clearly directs early arrivals to come to the dining room. Our regular check-in hours do begin at 12:30, since most guests don't make it up the mountain until the afternoon.
But there's no excuse for a guest to feel uncared for in the rain, and believe me, we do continue to emphasize this to our staff at the lodge. We work hard to make the welcome of guests a top priority of every day.
It's also a strictly-observed policy that our crew members wear a LeConte Lodge name- tag and a lodge Crew shirt when they are on-duty.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2009

My wife and three children were fortunate enough to secure reservations at Leconte Lodge for the evening of July 1. This was our first hike into the Smokies. We do not hike routinely, so our trip was preceded by two months of treadmill work.

We selected the Alum Cave trail for the walk up, as it was reportedly the most scenic (and shortest at 5.2 miles) of the four available trails. We arrived at the trailhead at 8:30 a.m. The climb up took us 5 1/2 hours, as we adopted a fairly leisurly pace to enjoy the fantastic scenery, take photos and to eat lunch. We also took occasional rest breaks, and sections of the hike are fairly strenuous. The more treacherous segments of the trail feature cables embedded into the mountain which helped a lot.

We arrived at Leconte Lodge at 2:00 p.m. Check in went smoothly, and we were escorted to our cabin, which featured double bunk beds, plus one single bed. The staff explained the particulars of the lodge experience, including the location of the hot water spigot for spongebaths, the kerosene lamp, and the propane heater. There are flush toilets available for paying guests.

Once we settled in, we went into the dining hall where guests were provided coffee, hot chocolate and lemonade throughout the afternoon. The pack llamas were on site when we arrived, which was a treat for our 11 year old. Views of the Smokies and surrounding valleys were outstanding, although fog rolled in around dusk which unfortuantely prevented a view of the sunset.

Dinner was served promptly at 6:00 p.m., and the food was terrific. There was assigned seating for the 50 or so guests. We sat with a group who were celebrating their 12th consecutive year of hiking to Leconte Lodge.

We turned in fairly early, and were impressed at the quietness of the area (no electricity has something to do with that). Even though it was July 1, the temperature fell to 39 degrees that night, so we were glad we brought sweaters.

The weather broke long enough to get a great view of the sunrise. Breakfast was served at 8:00 a.m. (pancakes, Canadian bacon and eggs, etc.). Shortly thereafter, we loaded up and began our descent down (which took 3 1/2 hours).

The staff were friendly and helpful throughout the experience. This is a unique place among lodging facilities. We hope to do this again someday, but will probably take a smoother, less challenging trail next time.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled with family
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3  Thank pkajj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 12, 2008

We are a family of four, with two boys ages 11 and 13. We took the Alum Cave Trail on April 8, 2008. The Alum Cave Trail is the steepest and fastest way to the lodge. Our family is healthy and in average physical condition and it took us exactly 3 hours from the parking lot to the top with a lunch stop and several water/granola bar stops. It was a great hike and we loved it. I have a slight fear of heights and there were a couple of places I was a tad nervous but not many. I even saw people on the trail with small children (although I would not have been so brave). The last review gives a great description of the lodge, the food, the cabins and the LeConte Lodge experience. The staff was friendly and kind, and went out of their way to be helpful and accomodating. Everything was as clean and well maintained as possible under the circumstances. Advice I would give to friend making the trip would be to wear shorts and pack in light long underwear made from a synthetic or wool and tie a fleece or other light, warm jacket around your waist (I used a light wool pullover intended for outdoor/sport use). You can wear the long underwear under your shorts when the temperatures drop on the mountain. Bring a dollar store poncho and enough water and food for your climb and that's it. We packed in snacks, hats, extra clothing and raincoats and it wasn't necessary. You can buy ski hats, ponchos, toothbrushes w/toothpaste, snacks and box lunches at the lodge office and it is easier to bring the stuff down with you than to pack it up. Don't forget they don't take credit cards so you need cash or check. You might also want to buy the souvenir t-shirt that is only available there. You can fill your water bottles on the mountain for the trip down. We heard from our fellow travelers that there are many who prefer the Rainbow Falls Trail -- it is longer than Alum Cave Trail but not as difficult or steep. We think we might give it a try for a change if we ever have the opportunity to return.

  • Stayed: April 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
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3  Thank Mom45
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 27, 2008

I hiked for the first time to Leconte Lodge Monday March 24. It was the first day they were open for the 08 season.

I went with my son and his new wife. They are young and fit and do some hiking. I am not so young and not so fit and do NO HIKING, but I was proud of myself for keeping up !

We took the Rainbow Falls trail up. Left the trailhead at 9:30 and arrived 5 ½ hours later. It started snowing as soon as we started up and snowed all day. There was about 4 inches on the ground when we reached the lodge.

The snow made the hike a challenge but the winter wonderland was worth it.

We were welcomed with hot chocolate and coffee when we arrived. The staff was great. The got us into our cabin right away. We were one of the first groups to arrive. I had seen photos of the lodge and cabins, so I knew what to expect. One room cabin, full size bunk beds plus a twin size, no electricity, no running water, kerosene lamp, kerosene heater. The staff warned us to not leave any food in the cabin as they had a problem with mice. But we never saw any.

It was a short walk to the “restroom”. They have flush toilets…..but it was too cold for them to function. We had to use the “outhouse”. It got down to about 14 degrees overnight.

The dinner bell rang promptly at 6pm. You have assigned seating and we sat with a very nice family from OH. Dinner consisted of potato soup, roast beef and gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn bread, cinnamon apples, peach halves, water, coffee and hot chocolate. After the long hike, it tasted great.

We spent a little time around the large kerosene heater in the office talking with the other hikers and looking at all the interesting photos and articles on the walls before turning in.

We were told at dinner that amazing sunsets can be seen from Cliff Tops which is a short hike from the lodge although the snowy weather made for very poor visibility so no one made the hike. They also said that sunrises could be seen at Myrtle Point, a .6 mile hike from the lodge, sunrise was to be at 7:35am. I assumed that the weather would cancel that out also.

I woke up about 2am for a trip to the little boys room. Walking down the snowy path with my flashlight, as I turned the corner I saw the sparkling lights of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. The skies had cleared. So I set my alarm on my cell phone for 6am to get up and allow time for the 30 minute hike to Myrtle Point. My bunkmates opted to sleep in…..Their Loss.

It took a lot to crawl out of the warm bed. I started up the hiking path with my flashlight. I must say it was quite eerie hiking up the narrow snow covered trail in the moonlight. I followed some type of animal tracks up the trail, I am guessing it was possibly a bobcat? I really have no idea, but it looked like the tracks a house cat leaves, only a little larger. The trail up reminded me somewhat of the movie “The Shining” with Jack Nicholson. Anyway, I digress. There were some great views as I made my way to the point as the morning light got brighter.

I reached Myrtle Point at about 7:15am. It was windy and cold, but an amazing feeling as I stood all alone overlooking the beautiful mountains. I was the only one out of the 48 guests that made the hike. I waited and took in the complete silence. I watched as the sun peaked in the distance over the mountains. It was a beautiful sight. I took some photos with my digital camera, I so wish I had a better camera with me to get quality shots.

On my way back down to the lodge I heard the Breakfast Bell. You can cut across to Cliff Tops without going all the way back to the lodge. Since we did not go to see the sunset there last evening, I went over to see what the view was like. It was also spectacular.

I reached the dining hall in time to still have some breakfast. Scrambled eggs, grits, Canadian bacon, biscuits and apple butter.

We started the hike down about 9am. The sky was blue, sun shining, and snow still on the trees and ground. Rainbow Falls and Bullhead were the only 2 trails not closed. We were told that Bullhead is much steeper so since there was snow on the ground we opted to go back down the same way we came up on Rainbow.

It took us 3 ½ hours to get back to the trailhead. It was a beautiful day and we passed probably 100 hikers coming up. Most were just headed to Rainbow falls.

All in all it was a great trip and we will definitely do it again.

  • Stayed: March 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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7  Thank AboveParCondo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about LeConte Lodge

Address: Near the summit of Mount LeConte, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
Location: United States > Tennessee > Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Specialty Lodging in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Price Range: $75 - $120 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 15
Also Known As:
Leconte Hotel Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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