The Skyline of Pigeon Forge and a Mountain High Wedding
Over ten million people a year come to visit the Great Smoky Mountains and its three tourist communities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville. Everywhere you drive, hike, shop, or stay the majestic mountain peaks color your horizon. How many of you, though, know what mountain peaks you are actually looking at?
When you’re driving down the main Parkway, Rt 441 South, in Pigeon Forge, one large mountain fills the skyline all the way from left to right. That is Mount LeConte, named after John LeConte, a physician from Georgia, who in the 1850‘s helped surveyor Samuel Buckley determine just how high Mount LeConte is: 6,593 feet.
At 6,593 feet above sea level, Mount LeConte is the third highest peak in the Smoky Mountains. To the left of Mount LeConte is Mount Guyot, the second highest mountain at 6,621 feet. Just a little further to the right of Mount LeConte is Clingmans Dome, the highest mountain in the Smokies and in Tennessee at 6,643 feet above sea level. In the Appalachian mountain chain, only Mount Mitchell north of Asheville, North Carolina, is higher at 6,684 feet.
However, Mount LeConte has the honor of being known as the tallest mountain east of the Rocky Mountains, because its base goes all the way down into Gatlinburg and then rises over one mile up into the sky. The base of the other mountains start much higher up, so their height spans a much smaller distance.
Mount LeConte has four distinctive subpeaks (from left to right), West Point, Cliff Top, High Top, and Myrtle Point. High Top is the highest of the four peaks, but the two most popular peaks are Myrtle Point known for viewing spectacular sunrises and Cliff Top known for viewing beautiful sunsets. To get to Monte LeConte, you’ll need to hike up one of five trails: the Alum Cave Trail (the shortest and the steepest), the Boulevard Trail, the Bullhead Trail, the Rainbow Falls Trail, or the Trillium Gap Trail.
Nestled between Cliff Top and High Top is LeConte Lodge, the highest hotel in the Eastern half of the United States and the only hotel within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Basically a cluster of log cabins, LeConte Lodge is open March through November and provides breakfast and dinner. There is no running water and cabins are lit with kerosene lamps and heated with propane heaters. It is operated by Stokely Hospitality Enterprises, which also runs the famous Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant in Sevierville. (Visit www.lecontelodge.com for more information.)
LeConte Lodge was built by Jack Huff from Gatlinburg, beginning in 1926, before the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established. He and his wife Pauline got married at sunrise at Mount LeConte’s Myrtle Point in April 1934. The bride and groom and all the guests had a long walk to get to that wedding, but it was an event to be remembered. That wedding is still talked about today.
This story was written by Olga Wierbicki with Stellar Wedding Services, Secretary of the Smoky Mountain Wedding Association. Photos are provided courtesy of John Saunders, a wedding and nature photographer with Saunders Productions.
Next SMWA Meeting
July 19, 2016 at Bear Pen Gap from 5:30pm to 7:30pm $15 per person with an RSVP, $20 per person at the door without an RSVP. RSVP to Ellen@smwba.com or EventBrite.
About the SMWA
The Smoky Mountain Wedding Association is a collaboration of various businesses that specifically offer a venue, product, or service that will make planning your Smoky Mountain Wedding quick and easy. We are a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the wedding industry in Sevier County, TN, and the Great Smoky Mountain area.
visit http://www.smokymountainweddingassociation.com/ If you would like to be a part of Tuesday's Tips, please contact Ellen@smwba.com.