This is a mountain in TN I've always wanted to do. Although I'm from WA the smokies are a different challenge. My friend Reggie and I set out from Chattanooga, made it through the crowds at Gatlinburg and set off from the Rainbow Fall's trailhead. It was a 6.6 mile trip to Leconte from there and another .6 miles to the true summit.
The hike went well and we reached the falls in just over an hour. Finally above the falls the forest begin to change into more of a different zone with some fir and spruce tree's appearing here and there. About this time it started to rain on us and we had doubts about whether to continue on or not...but I wanted to go no matter what. So we pressed on, and the elevation seemed to be gained slowly! The last two miles to the top were the longest, not because I was tired but because the mountain's I'm used to suddenly increase in elevation at the end to come to the summit. In good time I made it to the Leconte Lodges, about three hours after leaving the trailhead. I then made my way up to the Cliffs on Mt. Leconte, about .2 miles from the lodges. The Cliffs were my favorite part. Although it was misty and no view, the wind was incredible...about 30-40 miles an hour up there and it was beautifully cold...about 40-45 and I just stood above the cliffs enjoying the cool blast of windy air in my t-shirt! The hike back down after reaching the summit was uneventful except for the bear and a doe and her fawn, which I got good pics of! All in all it was a great hike in TN and I'm glad I did it! My favorite Mountain in the smokies!