Mount LeConte via Rainbow Falls and Bull Head

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

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16 Reviews
5 out of 5
The only way to hike to Mount LeConte and return to your car without backtracking or long road walking is by utilizing Rainbow Falls Trail and Bull Head Trail. The first 2.7 miles to Rainbow Falls is always crowded. Most people turn around at the falls, so the rest of the hike will be much less crowded. Begin on Rainbow Falls Trail at the western end of the main parking area. In a few hundred feet you cross Trillium Gap Trail and begin climbing alongside LeConte Creek on a rocky path. The steady ascent continues all the way to the falls, and so do the rocks. You might be tempted to rename this trail the “Rocky Falls Trail” before you finish. LeConte Creek keeps close company most of the way. Only at a few places does the trail get out of earshot of the creek.
Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park

by Kevin Adams (Falcon Guides)

The only way to hike to Mount LeConte and return to your car without backtracking or long road walking is by utilizing Rainbow Falls Trail and Bull Head Trail. The first 2.7 miles to Rainbow Falls is always crowded. Most people turn around at the falls, so the rest of the hike will be much less crowded. Begin on Rainbow Falls Trail at the western end of the main parking area.

In a few hundred feet you cross Trillium Gap Trail and begin climbing alongside LeConte Creek on a rocky path. The steady ascent continues all the way to the falls, and so do the rocks. You might be tempted to rename this trail the “Rocky Falls Trail” before you finish. LeConte Creek keeps close company most of the way. Only at a few places does the trail get out of earshot of the creek.

© 2013 Kevin Adams/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Backpacking, Hiking
Nearby City: Gatlinburg
Distance: 13.6
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Difficult
Duration: 8 hours or Overnight
Features: Waterfalls
Local Maps: Mount LeConte USGS quad; Trails Illustrated #229 Great Smoky Mountains; Trails Illustrated #317 Clingmans Dome Cataloochee; Trails Illustrated #316 Cades Cove Elkmont (only shows the trailhead and the lower portion of Bullhead Trail)
Topo Map: Mount LeConte via Rainbow Falls and Bull Head Topographic Map
Guide Book: Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park Guide Book
Driving Directions: View Directions
Trail Directions: View Guide

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Recent Trail Reviews

5/4/2014

Best trail I have ever hiked! This review is for the Rainbow Fall portion. I thoroughly enjoyed the views, nature and the photo opportunities. My wife and I hike every now and then but I think the enjoyment that we had on this trip will have us hiking much more often. We will come back to do this trail again along with others in the area.

7/19/2013

This was my favorite trail in Gatlinburg. It's a long way to Rainbow Falls (about 2.7 miles) but it's well worth the trip. The terrain is moderate, but it's almost all upwards hiking

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