Mount LeConte via Boulevard Trail – 10/10/16
It’s hard to imagine that it’s been 2 years since I last hiked Mt. LeConte. You can read about that experience HERE. Alot has happened since that last hike 2 years ago and the craziness of life has kept me from going back. When the opportunity became available to climb the mighty mountain once again I couldn’t pass it up. This would be my 4th time hiking LeConte and the previous times have always been via the wonderful Alum Cave Trail. This time I vowed to venture outside my comfort zone and try another route to the summit. Enter the long and winding Boulevard Trail.
Make no mistake, this trail is a BEAST! 17 miles roundtrip makes for a LONG day on the trails, but for the views it’s a gem from start to finish. The first third of the trail starts on the AT from Newfound Gap, It’s relative easy and enjoyable as it matches the route to another of my favorite spots…Charlies Bunion. Once you come to the split in the trail (Where Boulevard begins ) the trail immediately drops to a ridgeline that connects Mt. Kephart with LeConte. You’ll enjoy the drop until you realize that you’ll have to climb that guy on your return. This is one reason many people turn this hike into a loop (Up Boulevard, down Alum). Did I say this hike is beautiful? The views this particular day was gorgeous and at one point as we were making our way close to the top of LeConte we passed a clearing that we could clearly see our starting out point at Newfound Gap. As we reached LeConte we finally passed Myrtle Point and the actual summit of High Top before make our way to eat our lunch at Cliff Tops. This particular day was special because I got to visit with Phillip aka P-NUT, He’s a buddy of mine that works on the crew at the LeConte Lodge. He took us for a behind the scenes tour at the lodge, showing us the kitchen area and their bunks that they get to stay in during the season. Ultimately, I wish we could have stayed longer visiting and enjoying the weather up on the mountain but we had to get back on the ‘vard as we still had another 8 miles to knock out before the day was done. I won’t comment on the return trip other than it was long and my knees were struggling as we made our way back to our vehicle. Advice: Hit the trail early and give yourself plenty on time because you’ll need it…Also, consider staying at the Lodge overnight or doing a loop and come down via another trail.