One of the most important things to consider when visiting and hiking Mt LeConte is the weather. Although the mountain is in a region that enjoys a mild climate with four distinct seasons, Mt LeConte weather conditions vary considerably depending on elevation and do not necessarily reflect the conditions of the city below due to the great difference in elevation.
At 6,593 feet, Mt LeConte is the third highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. When measured from its immediate base to its highest point, however, Mt LeConte is considered to be the tallest mountain in the entire Eastern United States, rising 5,301 feet from its base near Gatlinburg.
While the mountain does experience seasonal weather changes, and there may be better times to plan a hike than others, Mt LeConte weather has a climate with cool summers and cold, snowy winters. The climate is significantly cooler and fairly wetter than Gatlinburg’s. The lowest temperature ever recorded was -32°F and the highest temperature recorded at Mt LeConte was 85°F.
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Seasonal Mt LeConte Weather
Spring – As with the surrounding area in lower elevations, Mt LeConte experiences rapid changes in weather with sunny mornings turning into chilly evenings by the end of the day. Freezing temperatures are still common at night.
Summer – Both lower and high elevations enjoy nice weather throughout the summer season. Although, lower elevations experience fairly high temperatures with occasional thunderstorms and showers leaving muggy afternoons in their wake. Mt LeConte weather is a great deal more pleasant on these days with temperatures above 80°F being a rarity.
Fall – As temperatures begin to drop and frosts and overnight freezes become possible in lower elevations, Mt LeConte also taps into upcoming winter weather with snowfall becoming a possibility by November.
Winter – Mid-November through February reveals the greatest temperature and weather contrast between lower and higher elevations with the mountains enjoying dustings of snowfall while lower elevations may not see more than a flurry or two for the year as they continue to still enjoy warm temperatures reaching the 70s. In the low elevations, snows of 1″ or more occur 1-5 times a year. Snow falls more frequently in the higher mountains and up to two feet can fall during a storm. January and February are the months when one is most likely to find snow in the mountains.
How to Prepare for Mt LeConte Weather During a Hike
Hiking from Mt LeConte’s base to summit is the ecologic and climatic equivalent of a hike up the Eastern seaboard, so it’s important to prepare and pack accordingly. As a general rule, hikers will experience a 5-degree decrease in temperature for every 1,000 feet you ascend, but this can also vary. It’s not uncommon for Gatlinburg temperatures to be in the 50s and 60s while temperatures at the summit are in the 20s or less. Read tips on how to prepare for Mt LeConte weather during your visit below:
Clothes – Clothes made from moisture-wicking fabrics – fabrics that capture moisture, move it away from your skin, and redistribute it to accelerate drying time – are your best bet when hiking in the Smoky Mountains, especially in Mt LeConte weather. These fabrics help keep you cool and dry when you’re hot, but can also be worn in layers and under insulating shells, keeping you dry regardless of how warm or cold you become.
Shoes – While tennis shoes are typically all you need for an easy day hike in the Smokies, hiking boots are great for longer hikes like Mt LeConte. Just make sure they’re comfortable and have good traction to prevent slipping.
What to Bring – Pack for the weather you’re expecting as well as weather conditions that seem unlikely. An extra pair of socks, rain gear, extra layers, water and a snack don’t require much space in your pack and are lightweight if distributed correctly.
Ready to start planning your hike? For more information about Mt LeConte weather, hiking Mt LeConte and the Great Smoky Mountains, click here!