July 20-21, 60 people hiked to LeConte Lodge on Mount LeConte, the third-highest peak in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The only way to the lodge is by hiking up one of five strenuous trails to the mountain, which tops out at 6,593 feet.
Katie Bailey/Karen Chavez
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A lodge near the summit of the Smokies’ Mount LeConte won’t open for the season Monday as planned, officials said this week.
LeConte Lodge in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has canceled all reservations through March 23 because winter weather is preventing staff and their llamas from ferrying supplies up the mountain, which is situated at 6,593 feet above sea level, according to the lodge’s blog, High on LeConte. The crew has spent the past few days trying to clear snow from a helicopter landing pad.
On the ground at the lodge, about 50 miles southeast of Knoxville and 5,700 feet higher, is 7 inches of snow plus drifts from wind gusts. Wednesday’s high was 8 degrees with a Wednesday overnight low of zero.
The only way to reach the lodge is to hike. Five trails are available, and the shortest at 5.5 miles is also the steepest, a four-hour trek for a hiker in good condition, the lodge’s website says.
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Guests with canceled reservations can choose a credit for the 2018 season or can reschedule their stay based on availability in the 2017 season.
The lodge stays open through Nov. 21, but most…