Mount LeConte from the Chimney Tops
The eastern view from Chimney Tops provides one of the best views of Mount Le Conte, slightly right of center in this image. At 6,593 ft. Le Conte is the third highest peak in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, behind Clingmans Dome (6,643 ft.) and Mount Guyot (6,621 ft). However, in terms of prominence, Mount Le Conte is one of the highest peaks in the entire Appalachian Mountain Range rising 5,301 ft. from its base.
Mount Le Conte is notable for having the highest altitude operating inn located in the Eastern United States. The LeConte Lodge is a small resort, established in 1925, located on the top of the mountain. First, it was a tent, then a single cabin, and now it is a series of small personal log cabins and a central lodge/dining hall situated along the top of the mountain. It can accommodate about 50 guests a night, and is generally open from March–November. There is no transportation to the lodge and all guests must hike in on one of five trails ranging in length from 4.9 to 8.9 miles. Due to the lack of access, supplies are brought in via llama pack trains.
Chimney Tops, the point from which this image was taken, is one of the park's most recognizable geological structures and one of the few instances of a bare rock summit in the Smokies. Its current name was given to it by the residents of the Sugarlands before the national park was formed. Back in the day, this valley was heavily logged and before it reforested Chimney Tops was clearly visible from most of the valley. It is a popular hiking destination because of its convenient location, relatively short length (2 miles), and outstanding panoramic views from the summit. The trail is rated as moderate in difficulty, despite its short length, because the second half of the trail is steep, rising almost a 1,000 ft. per mile, a rate of gain comparable to some of the Colorado “fourteeners”.
Chimney Tops, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee, USA. Elevation: 4,662 ft. September 19, 2014.
GPS Coordinates 35°37'46" N 83°28'40" W