Happy Halloween and conclusion to what has been an epic October in these mountains! Ever since the storm rolled through, it seems to have abruptly ushered in winter without a gradual transition. It’s another frosty morning up top with a few more expected every day this weekend. Skies are bright and clear, and save for a slight precip chance tomorrow, the next week should be cool and gorgeous. A few pointers in advance of these final few weeks of the season...
*The time change occurs tonight, so remember to set your watches back/alarms forward if your hike is tomorrow.
*Hikers hitting the trailhead early will now enjoy more daylight at the start. The flip side to that coin is skies will get darker an hour sooner. It is absolutely crucial that day hikers know when to leave the lodge and allow themselves adequate daylight to get down the mountain. The average hiker takes 3-4 hours to descend the mountain, so most visitors should be leaving the lodge by 2:00 PM to beat the dark and the cold.
*Speaking of the cold, it is all day hikers’ responsibility to come dressed appropriately for the climate conditions. That means during your hike and the entire time spent atop the mountain. Our COVID-19 safety protocols remain in place, which means all indoor food and merchandise services are sold as “to-go.” So no crowding around space heaters for unprepared hikers. Once you’ve arrived at the lodge, your body will begin to cool down, especially if it’s windy or rainy. If you don’t already have the layers to keep yourself dry and warm while pausing your physical activity, your time up top will be far less enjoyable.
*With the time change, guest supper will be taking place AFTER sunset the remainder of the season. Starting tomorrow evening, guest supper will be served at 6:15 PM. Overnight guests should not wait that late to arrive, as it will be dark well before then. Breakfast is still served at 8:00 AM.
We finally bid Zeta farewell, but only after we received more than 5.5” of rain (!!!) the last two days. Still a great deal of water rushing off the mountain, with places like Grotto Falls and Rainbow Falls surging over their ledges. Trails are going to be literal rivers at times today, with some unbridged crossings up to one’s knees. Until the water subsides, guests are still advised to use Alum Cave Trail. We’re still in the process of gathering intel on trail conditions, but if you come across any hazards please let us know. Clouds are trying to break, and our low of 30° started to spawn some frost formation. No snow yet, and with the sunny stretch in the days ahead, we may have dodged that bullet for a little while longer. Still plenty chilly up here especially with the wind, so have layers to keep yourself dry and warm.
Be safe and have a great day.
1:15 PM Update
Cherokee Orchard and Roaring Fork roads have been reopened. Guests are still advised to utilize the Alum Cave Trail since streams in the area remain high, and more wind and rain is expected this evening and tomorrow morning.
Here is the latest in regards to Hurricane Zeta:
A High Wind Warning remains in effect until noon today. Sustained winds along the higher peaks of 20-30 mph with gusts upwards of 65 mph are possible during this time. A Flash Flood Watch remains in effect until 2:00 PM today as several inches of rain are expected with this storm, causing numerous creeks to swell along trails making passage dangerous.
US 441 (Newfound Gap Rd) remains open. All guests with reservations Thursday and Friday are advised to use Alum Cave Trail. Visitors should not use The Boulevard. Cherokee Orchard and Roaring Fork roads are closed due to the storm. NPS road maintenance crews will not evaluate the conditions of park roads until after the High Wind Warning has expired. Trails like Rainbow Falls, Bull Head, and Trillium Gap may not be accessible to visitors until Friday or Saturday. By that time any flood waters along those trails should have subsided.
There is the chance for a break in the rain this afternoon, but the backside of the storm will still produce rain bands that should sweep across the region again this evening and into Friday morning. It is possible a separate flood watch gets administered for tonight. Temps will remain mild in the 40s and 50s. Please notify the lodge and/or NPS of any downed trees or landslides discovered on trails or roads so that they can be addressed promptly.
Thank you and stay safe.
4:30 PM Update
Cherokee Orchard and Roaring Fork roads are temporarily closed due to current and incoming weather associated with Hurricane Zeta. That leaves visitors with utilizing Alum Cave Trail along US 441 (Newfound Gap Rd) to access the lodge. With the heavy rains, high winds, and exposed ridge tops, using The Boulevard out of Newfound Gap is NOT recommended at this time.
We will continue to provide updates regarding the weather, and Park road/trail conditions as we receive them.
Our area is under a Flash Flood Watch that begins this evening and will last into Thursday. Heavy rain associated with Zeta is already pushing across Southern Appalachia and will arrive this morning. Now through Friday morning the Smokies could receive upwards of 4 to 6 inches of rainfall. Winds along the upper elevations will be at their highest on Thursday, sustained at times from 20-30 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph over the mountain tops. Temps are still going to be mild in the 40s and 50s, but the wind and rain will certainly make it feel cooler against the skin, especially if hikers are poorly dressed for the conditions.
Guests should avoid trails that aren’t Alum Cave for multiple reasons these next couple days. If everyone uses the same trail, hikers can communicate with each other and help keep the lodge notified of one’s whereabouts if conditions/hazards create delays. The other trails also have numerous unbridged stream crossings that can swell rapidly and pose serious risks for hikers in times of sudden or long lasting wet weather. Lastly, it’s smart to to keep your belongings protected from the elements as much as yourself. Dry stuff sacks and pack covers to compliment your rain jacket, pants and boots will be appreciated once you reach the top and find out your change of clothes are still dry. We sell shirts and ponchos from our summit gift shop, but that does little for you on the ascent, so please come prepared to have yourself as safe and enjoyable a hike as possible.
Even with the patchy clouds in recent days, it has still been spectacular weather in the mountains, ideal for wandering in the woods. We’re looking at one more day of decent conditions before the forecast sours for the next several days. The varying levels of cloud layers have produced some dramatic scenes for hikers as they traverse the trails and whenever we catch glimpses through the gray walls here at the lodge. Temps remain mild in the 40s for lows and 50s for highs.
As it relates to fall color here in the Smokies, the middle elevations have it going on, particularly from 2,000 to 4,500 feet in elevation. Higher than that and the trees are mostly bare. Trails like Rainbow Falls, Bull Head, and Trillium Gap will have plenty of colorful displays in their lower halves to enjoy. And the drive around Roaring Fork will be full of vivid eye-candy a little while longer.
We are watching Zeta in the Gulf, expected to return to hurricane form before making US landfall. Like several of its predecessors this year, it should track very close to the Smokies, producing steady rainfall and gusty winds. Starting Wednesday morning and lasting well into Friday, Mt. LeConte could receive several inches of rainfall and experience wind gusts as high as 40 mph at times. Now is the time for overnight guests to reevaluate hiking gear to make sure one is ready for treks in such conditions. Temps will remain mild through mid-week but come Friday they are expected to cool down quite a bit. We will continue to monitor Zeta closely.
Have a great day.
Down to the last week of the month and eventually Halloween. Yesterday was book-ended by some decent rainfall, but midday conditions actually turned out favorable to give travelers a break in the rain. Still dealing with some lingering clouds and mist to begin this Sunday, but the worst of the system has moved on. Only small percentages for pop-up showers are on tap for today, otherwise we’ll be carrying on under cloudy skies. Temps are currently in the upper 40s and should easily get up in the 50s this afternoon. Not expecting much variance in that regard, at least not until next weekend when a cool down rolls in. Trails will still be plenty wet today, and be mindful of those slick spots hidden by leaf litter.
Have a great end to the week.
It’s the penultimate weekend of what has been a fast passing month. Starting off this Saturday with plenty of rain which appears that it’ll be sticking with us all day. The peaks are clouded in and the temps are actually quite mild, already in the low 50s. Intermittent breaks in the rain showers are possible as the bands cycle through, but creeks should be running a little higher throughout the day and trail conditions will be muddy and wet. Be especially careful on slick rock surfaces covered by leaves now that many have fallen from their trees. The rain may deter some folks from getting out on the trails, but still be ready for heavy congestion in gateway towns and on the roadways as folks try to enjoy the autumn show from the dry confines of their vehicles. Sunday could start wet, but conditions should improve as the day goes on.
Have a great weekend.
The fantastic streak of sunshine had to end sometime. Clouds rolled in during the night and have thickened up the skies. There is a small chance for mid-afternoon showers in our area, but otherwise today should remain a mostly cloudy and calm day. Tomorrow will be the first really wet day in a while, with the possibility of rain ramping up after midnight and lasting much of Saturday. Significant rainfall isn’t expected, but enough so that a durable jacket will serve you well from start to finish. Even with the changing conditions, our temps will remain steady and mild, with highs in the 50s and lows in the 40s. As we approach the last week of the month, the forecast seems to indicate we might actually make it into November without seeing any of the white stuff fly. A bummer for those already yearning for that winter magic, but a positive sign for those guests just wanting to have a safe summit and descent of the mountain these remaining weeks of the season.
Have a great day.
Oh, sunny days, don’t you ever leave. The autumn magic of the Smokies continues with each picture perfect day. Temps at the lodge were relatively balmy for this time of year, getting into the lower 60s yesterday. Overnight lows remain moderate in the mid 40s. Mostly clear skies full of bright light during the day and a mesmerizing moon accompanied by stars at night. We have at least one more day on tap with such delightful conditions. The weekend could start off cloudy and a little wet, but these warm temps are expected to persist.
With these beautiful days in the mountains, Mt. LeConte continues to be a popular place for the leaf-peeping crowds. Thank you to everyone’s patience as our team works hard to tend to our countless customers while they visit the lodge. With record setting visitation across the park during a historically busy time of year, patience is going to be a part of the entire Smokies experience from road to trail to summit. Again, thank you for taking the time to include us in your plans.
Have a great rest of the day.
Hit the repeat button and crank up the sunshine once again. Another beautiful day in the Smokies is in store for visitors today. We managed to scrape 60° degrees yesterday, and it’s likely we’ll get a little warmer than that this afternoon. Even with the occasional breeze during the night, our low remained mild in the upper 40s. No future threats of freezing temps for a while up here. Precip is still possible by the start of the weekend. Between that and the dry weather we’re enjoying, trail conditions ought to be in pretty good shape. Traffic in the park on both roads and trails continues to be busy, so consider starting early to beat the main rush or try one of the less popular trails accessing the lodge.
Have a great day.
Welcome to the official blog of LeConte Lodge. We hope you find the information provided here both helpful and enjoyable. Thank you for visiting the site, and we hope to see you on the mountain!