Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte is a 10.3 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, TN 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.
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.
Tough hike up to LeConte stayed in shelter enjoyed it
It was an amazing hike.
My husband and I did this trail as a spur of the moment idea. We had a picture of Mt. Le Conte in our hotel room and decided we had to make the long trek to see it for ourselves. This was our first long hike ever and we were so beat tired once we got back, but it was so worth it! Beautiful views. You get panoramic views, differing terrains, and forest views too. One of my favorite things about this trail was that we saw people of all ages (one couple in their 60s told us they do this every year as a family reunion and then a father/ 7 yo daughter pair too) and everyone is so encouraging along the way. Once you complete the hike up you can either go a little further to reach an end of a another trail to get a better view or you can go up a lodge. The lodge is a primitive, but you can buy hot chocolate and little snacks. They have bathrooms and fresh water up there, so stock up if need be. This trail is hard and tiring but my husband and I are definitely going to come back and hike up again and stay in the little cabins a couple days. Highly recommend this trail, took us about 8.5 hours with a 45 min lunch break at the top.
Completed Nov 5, 2016
Decided to sleep in my car at the trailhead to #1: get an actual parking spot since I knew it'd be busy, and #2: get up early for the sunrise. Night hiking left me with some amazing star views!! Left at 5am and made it to the top a little before 7am. And by top, I mean I continued up past the Leconte lodge another .8 of a mile to Myrtle point (HIGHLY recommend the added mileage, panoramic view of surrounding mountains!) Before the sun came up, someone said it was about 27°F and it was a bit breezy, so be prepared!! Came back down to the lodge around 8:30 to explore everything I missed hiking in the dark on the way up. Nice office/community area. Several merch items to buy. Recommended by a fellow hiker to hit Cliff Tops while I was up there as well (additional .5 of a mile RT) and I'm glad I did!! Also well worth the view and extra effort. Ended up meeting some new friends up there with whom I hiked all the way back down to the parking lot with.
Overall, trail was very well maintained, the weekday restoration looks great. Very steep, TONS of stairs, very busy if you leave anytime after 9 or 10am. Views are well worth the efforts though!!
I'm not an experienced hiker and was able to hike this trail to the Cliff Tops and back down with at least an hour spent enjoying the view in about seven hours. I wanted to quit so many times but it was well worth the gorgeous views at the top!
Amazing hike! Definitely a good workout, but do-able. Took us 3 hours up, 2 hours down, not rushing.
This is an amazing hike. It took my friends and I just over 2 hours to reach the top of Le Conte. It's a tough hike, but worth it. The incline is gradual and constant. Along this route you will see plenty of beautiful views. Stop and take the time to soak it in. There is a place for water at the top, if you run out along the way.
Awesome trail!!!!! Very well maintained with great scenery. Nice workout, great for the whole family....... I would estimate 5 to 6 hours at a leisurely pace....
Loved it!! We hiked this trail October 9th, 2016.
We were doing Mt. Le Conte hike while we passed this. The end point of Alum bluff cave trail is wonderful and offered great views.
I enjoyed the trip it's a nice half day hike and the cabins on top of Mount Le Conte were great and as well the food. l hiked and stayed in the spring of 1998.
Great trail with a little bit of everything. You'll start out by following the river/stream all the way to Alum Cave. When you get to Alum Cave continue on up to the Alum Bluffs and this is where you will need to
decide to make the 2.7 mile climb to the top of Mount Le Conte or turn around and head for the car. If you are going to make the climb, it will be well worth it. Bring plenty of water, snacks, hiking poles and good sturdy shoes. This is a strenuous climb but the views make it all worth it. In my opinion, the views on the way up are better than the peak itself. You'll know you are nearly at the top by seeing a sign for the lodge and the peak. It flattens out after you see the sign pointing to the lodge. Coming down the mountain is not easy either. Your legs are going to get a full workout during this hike. Take as many breaks as you need to stop and stretch, hydrate and snack. I went with a small group of people, two of which who were in much better shape than than I and they made it to the top in 2hrs and 10mins while I struggled to get up there in just under 4 hours. I stopped many times to take in the views, readjust gear and catch my breath from the climb. I probably could've pushed a little harder to make it up there quicker but we didn't have any plans so I was in no rush.
Nice steady hike, not too strenuous. Definitely will do again and hopefully make the time to climb all the way to Le Conte.