Challenging Hikes With Rewarding Views

These hikes are more challenging than the kid friendly and beginner hikes mentioned before, but the
payoff is an amazing view. It’s best to arrive early to these trailheads as they are popular hikes and it can
be tough to find a parking spot.
After your day of hiking, you can go back to your cabin and relax in the hot tub or whirlpool.

Forney Ridge to Andrew’s Bald
This trail begins at Clingmans Dome Parking area and starts out going downhill. The trail is rocky at first
and then levels out some as you wander through a beautiful forest. Then you will head back uphill until
you finally reach the sign for Andrew’s Bald at 1.8 miles. The grassy bald has impressive views of the
Smokies. If you hike to the bald in June or July, you may be lucky enough to catch Flame Azaleas and
Rhododendron blooming. Most of the hike back to the parking lot will be uphill, so be prepared.

Chimney Tops
This trail is 1.75 miles one way, but you will gain over 1400ft in elevation. So 3.5 miles roundtrip will be a
workout. It includes the never ending staircase with 367 stone steps on your way up and then back
down. When you get to the top, you will be happy you endured the steps and elevation gain. The
observation area provides gorgeous views of Mt. LeConte and Chimney Tops. It is also a great spot to
rest and catch your breath before the descent.

Alum Cave Bluffs
The trail to Alum Cave Bluffs has so much scenery along the way to the bluffs and beyond. It starts out
flat and runs along a creek in an old growth forest. Then you will start to cross over the creek on log
bridges. At the 1.4-mile mark, the log bridge will lead you to Arch Rock. This is where you will start to
really climb the mountain. Listen closely as you continue to climb as you may hear a Peregrine Falcon. If
you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of one as you pass Peregrine Peak. Be sure to stop and
take a break and be inspired by the views 2 miles into the hike at Inspiration Point. You will need this
break because after this point, the trail is steep with a lot of wooden steps until you reach the bluffs at
2.3 miles. Once you reach the bluffs there are beautiful views and it’s a great spot to relax and decide
whether you want to continue to Mt. LeConte or try that another day. If you decide to continue, this is
almost the half-way point to LeConte and will be continued in the next section.
Alum Cave Bluffs to Mt. LeConte
After your rest at Alum Cave Bluffs, you will start to make your 2.7-mile climb towards Mt. LeConte.
Take your time and enjoy the views from the many ledges while you hug the cliffs. Don’t worry there are
plenty of cable handrails to help you along the way. You will know when you are getting closer to the
top because you will be walking through a forest of green. There is no sight or smell like it and it’s quite
peaceful. At the 5 mile point you will see a trail sign and know that you will soon reach LeConte Lodge.

Stop and take a restroom break and visit the gift shop for a “I Hiked It” shirt. Be sure to take a obligatory
picture in front of the dining hall. The date is posted above the door and you will want to always
remember the day you made the trek to the lodge. Stop and fill up your bottle with fresh water for the
hike back down.
If you decide you want to go to the actual summit of LeConte then you will have about a half mile hike
to it. There are also a few other viewpoints that offer some outstanding views of the mountains. Myrtle
Point is .4 miles from the rock pile and Cliff Tops is .2 miles from the lodge.

Happy Hiking!

By Crystal McCandless