Listen To This Article - Click Play
Everyone who is familiar with the Smoky Mountains has heard of Mount LeConte, which at 6,593 feet is the third highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located near the summit at 6,360 feet is LeConte Lodge, where visitors can relax and see stunning mountain views. What originated as a simple log structure in 1926 has become a place that 15,000 day hikers visit each year. This spring, the long-time manager of the lodge retires.
Tim Line’s Story
Tim Line’s story at the LeConte Lodge began in 1977 when he started working there as a cook. It didn’t take long before Line became so much more than that. For the last 3 decades, Line has managed the facility. He has spent much of his life on Mount LeConte and knows the mountain better than anyone else. This spring, at age 65, Line will retire from his position as manager.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Line stated in an article with Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. “My knees are starting to wear out and my back hurts. I loved every minute of this job, but it’s time to let someone else take over.”
About the Lodge
LeConte Lodge is located just below the summit of Mount LeConte, within the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are no roads that lead to the lodge, just 5 hiking trails ranging from 5.5 miles up to 8 miles. It is the only place in the Smoky Mountains where visitors can sleep overnight in a permanent structure. From mid-March to late November, the lodge’s cabins, kitchen and dining hall draw about 12,000 overnight guests.
There were times in the past that no one was sure if the lodge would be as successful as it is now. When Line first started working there in 1977, there were talks of shutting it down because of overcrowding and the negative impact heating the cabins with wood stoves had on the forest, and bears often paid a visit to an outdoor fire pit where the lodge threw its food scraps. Now, the cabins are heated using clean-burning propane gas, and the bear problem has subsided.
The lodge has given more than just a job to Line — it’s given him a family. Soon after he started working there, he met his future wife, Lisa, who had been hired as a crew member. The two got married just a short two years later, and four years after that they brought a baby boy into the world. Later on, they added two more children into their family.
Though Line will surely miss working on the mountain and his crew members, he’s excited to have more time to spend with his family and to explore more trails in the Smoky Mountains. His favorite trail up the mountain is the Alum Cave Trail, which at 5.5 miles is the shortest route to LeConte Lodge. Line said he’s probably walked up and down the trail about 1,400 times over the past 41 years.
The retirement isn’t the end of the Line family at LeConte Lodge. Jacob, Line’s youngest son, will be a crew member at the lodge this season for the first time, and both father and son are looking forward to it.
If you’re looking for an incredible hike in the Smoky Mountains, take the Alum Cave Trail to the summit of Mount LeConte and stop to see the LeConte Lodge on your way! Find more things to do in the Smoky Mountains while you’re visiting, and start planning your trip today.