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Vehicle accessability within two trails?

Orlando, Florida
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Vehicle accessability within two trails?

I'm in the process of planning a trip to GSMNP next weekend. I'm still researching the most feasible day hikes for a moderate hiker like myself, and I'm leaning toward a trail taking me to Mount LeConte.

I know people can hike up to the mountain/lodge via one trail, and descend via another. My plan is to hike up via Rainbow Falls, and hike down via the Alum Cave Trail. In a day (starting very early). Is this even doable or am I crazy? I know this sounds naive, but I want to see the mountains ...

My main worry is getting to my car after the hike. I don't know how far the trailheads are between each trail. For example, can I leave my car at Rainbow Falls Trail and when I descend later in the day via Alum Cave, still get to where my car will be at Rainbow Falls Trail (or even vice versa)??

Any information and recommendations would be very helpful and appreciated. Thank you so much !

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1. Re: Vehicle accessability within two trails?

Yes you can quite easily do this hike in one day. How long it will take depends on your conditioning and pace. For many it would take most of the day, others could do it before noon.

The two trailheads are in different parts of the Park, probably 12-15 miles apart. You will need 2 vehicles, or to hire a service that will transfer your car to the other trailhead..

Melbourne, Florida
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for Melbourne, Florida
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2. Re: Vehicle accessability within two trails?

I don't know how current this is but I found this link when I google transport from alum cave trail to rainbow falls. Here is the link:http://www.awalkinthewoods.com/pages/wd_shuttle.htm

Hopefully that might work for you.

West Monroe...
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3. Re: Vehicle accessability within two trails?

I've seen the vans from A Walk In the Woods before. Here's a site that lists other companies as well.

smokiesadventure.com/smokymountains/hiking/s…

Your post doesn't say, but as I read between the lines, it sounds as though you will be hiking solo. If that's the case, please be sure that someone knows where you are going, which trail you are on, and when you expect to be back.

<<I know this sounds naive, but I want to see the mountains ...>>

You WILL see the mountains, regardless of whether you hike to LeConte or not. GSMNP is a beautiful park with great views and wonderful opportunities for peace and quiet away from the crowds. You don't have to go far to find it.

Phoenix, Arizona
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4. Re: Vehicle accessability within two trails?

Also, do take a well-charge cell phone with you (after giving notification of your intended route, departure and estimated return time). Cell coverage in GSMNP is poor in many places, but one can often get text messages out, or perhaps find a spot with a few "bars."

You are breaking my heart, as we have not done Rainbow Falls in too long, and need to remedy that.

Travel safely,

Hunt

Orlando, Florida
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5. Re: Vehicle accessability within two trails?

Thank you so much for all of this information! And the shuttle service is what I was thinking of, especially if the distance between the two trailheads is 12-15 miles. I'm actually gonna keep those two links handy for a future stay, so thank you :)

I've been thinking it will be best to narrow my hike to one trail - Alum Cave Trail 10 mile round trip seems like a good one for a day stay? Especially if I'm by hiking solo (and I'm certainly not an expert hiker) and I've never been there before. I'll have to save Rainbow Falls Trail for a future trip, I guess. Mostly, I just hope to see what we don't have here in Central Florida. Our hiking is so different! Maybe I'll venture out into Gatlinburg if it's not too crowded and/or annoying. Also, I'm scheduled to make my way to Charlottesville, VA the next day (a 5-hour drive), so I don't want to tire out too much either.

I'm about to do some research on how long the round trip hike will take me. If I start at approximately 7:00am-8:00am with a stop at the lodge to eat lunch and walk around, I wonder if that'll give me time to get back by 2pm. Does anyone have any ideas in regards to an 'average' time for this round trip hike? Should I go ahead reserve my entire day for it, or can I use the other half of the day for other plans?

Thank you so much again for the help!

nashville
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6. Re: Vehicle accessability within two trails?

it'd be pretty hard for anyone to guess that for you, but... assuming you're relatively fit and well prepared, you'll probably average about 2 miles/hour going up, 3 going down. of course, this could vary a bunch depending on your stopping time -- to catch your breath, eat a snack, take in the views, take pictures. the views from Alum Cave Trail are so numerous you could find yourself spending all day on the mountain, not wanting to leave.

don't stop at the lodge... keeping going another short stretch to Cliff Tops (you'll see signs at the lodge pointing the way)... that's where you'll have your big views from the top. if you're up for it, go a little further to Myrtle Point which will give you big views into the other end of the park. going to Myrtle Point adds another mile and a half, i think.

nashville
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7. Re: Vehicle accessability within two trails?

oh, and if you want to do a loop without using a shuttle (which can be expensive, fair warning), Bull Head, Rainbow Falls and Trillium Gap Trails can all be looped back to the same parking lot on Roaring Fork.

a few years ago in November my wife and i caught a shuttle up to Newfound Gap and hiked from the Appalachian Trail to the Boulevard, and came down LeConte on the Bull Head Trail.... fabulous hiking! especially the Boulevard section.

trail map: nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/upload/GSMNP-Map_…

8. Re: Vehicle accessability within two trails?

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