Changes coming to LeConte, hikers explain appeal

Soon it may be easier to snag a treasured lodge reservation high up on Mt. LeConte. Dana Soehn from the National Park Service tells us the ‘standing reservation’ system has been slowly eliminated in the last few years. The process actually began in 1998. No more grandfathered weekends going forward. Starting next year, for the 2020 season, everyone will be on equal footing. Of course, many of those spots have already been booked.

The peak has gorgeous trails and the world-renowned lodge. LeConte means choices: an intense family hike, a quiet place to think, or a lifelong obsession. Some climb it once, while one Gatlinburg man bagged the summit 4,000 times. The six trails hold millions of stories.

“Part of the mystique is that they hear about a lot of people that have done it a lot of times and they want to know what’s attractive,” the president of the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club said. From the ‘faerie glade’ to the rolling fog, there’s a sense of accomplishment in the thin air.

“The thing that’s drawn me back there… is just the variety of ways that it looks in different seasons,” he said. “There’s an appeal to LeConte because there are so many different ways to get there.”

No roads lead to the lodge and there’s no easy way up. There’s also no vacancies, for now at least.

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