Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte is a 10.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until November.
The first section of the Alum Cave Trail, up to Arch Rock, is a fairly gentle climb. You'll follow Alum Cave Creek for the first mile. Then, just before reaching Arch Rock, the trail begins to follow the smaller Styx Branch. This section of trail is choked with rhododendron, offering beautiful blooms in early summer. At just over 1.3 miles from the trailhead you'll reach Arch Rock, the first prominent landmark along the trail. The arch was formed by freezing and thawing which eroded away the softer rock from underneath the harder rock. The trail actually goes under the arch and requires a climb of several steps etched into the stone before exiting at the top. Roughly 2 miles from the trailhead you'll reach aptly named Inspiration Point, with its commanding views of Little Duck Hawk Ridge to the west, and Myrtle Point on Mt. LeConte towards the northeast. The Eye of the Needle, a hole in the rock at the top of Little Duck Hawk Ridge, can also be seen from Inspiration Point. At the top you will find the LeConte Lodge which provides the only commercial lodging in the national park, as it operates about 10 rustic cabins with no electricity or appliances.
Beautiful, exciting trail from bottom to top, it's got a little bit of everything. Mountain creeks, cliffs, absolutely majestic views, and lunch at the lodge if you make it to the top in time! It's definitely a challenge, and as other reviews have mentioned, it's quite a bit colder once you get to the top. There are a some narrow spots towards the top with steep drop offs where you need to hold on to a cable. It's a pretty strenuous hike, make sure you have plenty of water and good shoes.
My wife and I have been hiking for about a year now and thank goodness we have been! When the app said strenuous it wasn't kidding. But man - it was probably one of the best hikes we have been on yet! The trail was beautiful, it was quiet, and I would definitely hike it again. It's too bad that we were too exhausted to travel the remaining 2.7 miles to the top. But overall we enjoyed the hike and would recommend it to anyone looking for a challenge. Just be mindful - there is a climate change from the beginning of the hike to the Rock. I had to wear gloves the first part of it because my hands were so cold. And remember to take plenty of short breaks and just enjoy the view.
Took this hike on 07/30/16. One of the best hikes I've ever taken. If you are going all the way to the lodge and back in the same day, it will take you the entire day. The trail starts off taking you along side a beautiful running stream. There are beautiful rock structures and log bridges. Once you make it to Alum Cave (which is more of a bluff) the hikes gets more challenging. As you continue on, you will see beautiful scenery. Be sure to get some good photos! I wouldn't classify this as excessively dangerous, but I would exercise caution at certain points on the trail as it is narrow in some spots. Some spots feature cable for you to hold as you pass narrow spots. Once you make it to the lodge, it highly suggest continuing on to both High Cliff (which is a short walk from the lodge) Myrtle Point (which is a little further from the lodge). Both feature amazing views. Even in the summer, it gets cooler at the top, so bring extra clothing just in case. Also, be sure to bring plenty of water! This is a strenuous hike, but so worth doing!
I did this on 10/16/15. I have hiked Leconte multiple times and it is always great. We spent the night at the lodge which was awesome. This is a must do.
Beautiful hike. A little difficult going up, pretty easy going down. Will definitely do it again!
Made it all the way to the Lodge. What a great hike, had more unexpected attractions than anticipated.
* If you want to go to the lodge, make sure you have warm clothing for when you are on top of the mountain -- it is cold enough up there that there is frost on the flora in fall.
* Make sure you have plenty of support and comfort in your shoes and socks (varies from person to person of course), it is a long, flat trail with rocky steep stairways along the route.
* Bring plenty of water and food, once again, this is a good day hike, but you can definitely do it in a day (depending on your age and health).
A peaceful creek bed, mangrove like bushes along the path in the beginning and plenty of "sprucey" views to supplement your appetite for as to why you're out there in the first place.
Btw: The lodge is more of a small town, they have a sit down fire place area inside, kitchen, restrooms and much more!
Awesome hike. Alum cave bluffs are super cool then when you finally get to le conte.. views are amazing there! Decently tough hike
I did this beautiful hike solo during the 2016 Thanksgiving Holiday. It was a wonderful challenging hike that offered some spectacular views. It took 1 hour and 40 minutes to ascend with no breaks. I stayed on the summit eating lunch and watching the billowing clouds for an hour. Surprisingly Santa and Rudolph were at the top helping hikers make memories! The descent was 1 hour and 10 minutes with a few stops for photos and water (more of a jog then walk). This was a hike I would love to do again with my family and possibly stay at the LeConte Lodge.
Challenging trail! Very well maintained and easy to follow. Pretty busy trail, met lots of nice people along the way.