Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte

HARD 1,016 reviews

Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte is a 10 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Twin Creeks, Tennessee that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November.

DISTANCE
10.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2854 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

cave

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

snow

no dogs

This trail begins with a mild incline along Alum Cave Creek and the Styx Branch. At 1.3 miles you will get to Arch Rock, one of the trail's prominent landmarks. The arch's interesting geological features were formed when wind and water eroded away the softer rock. The trail passes right under the natural arch making a great vantage point for photos. At the 2 mile mark you will arrive at Inspiration Point. From here, you will be rewarded with views of Little Duck Hawk Ridge and The Eye of the Needle, as well as Myrtle Point on Mt. LeConte. Past Alum Cave, at the peak of Mount LeConte is the LeConte Lodge where you can stay in one of the primitive cabins that are the only formal lodging in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. At the summit you can also purchase drinks and use the restroom. This is a popular trail, so you will likely be in the company of other hikers.

1 day ago

Love this trail, even in the pouring rain! I wish there were more signs on the trail to Myrtle Point. We saw a couple turned around after seeing a pile of rocks and so we did too. After talking to other hikers, they suggested to keep going. The view was priceless!! We took 3 hours up to LeConte Lodge and about 2.5 hours down to our car.

hiking
1 day ago

the trail infrastructure was top notch. My son and i hiked to the top in 2hrs, hung out at the lodge and the cliff summit then took another 2hrs to hike down. Breathtaking views! maybe it was the hike up that took my breath ... lol.

3 days ago

Trail has some great views

hiking
3 days ago

Strenuous hike with the best views in the entire GSMNP.

hiking
4 days ago

I love this hike! I haven’t been on it since they did work at Alum Cave, but it’s a great hike. It’s very busy in summer and I think most people hike to the cave, then turn around. Up top the views are amazing and I’ve never seen a sunset prettier than what Myrtle Cove has to offer. I’ve also hike this trail many times in the winter, so be prepared for snow and ice. Bring your crampons, you’ll need them! Mt. LeConte is special! ❤️☮️

hiking
4 days ago

Beautiful views. hardest hike I have done.

4 days ago

Always a favorite hike. Still amazed at the great work Trails Forever did on rehabbing this trail.

hiking
5 days ago

Very challenging and extremely beautiful!

5 days ago

Better late than never... We made our way up the mountain Tuesday, June 12th. It was an amazing hike with Spectacular views. Our teenagers came along and they zipped up and down with no difficulty. They ran back down in 1.5 hours. It took my girlfriend and I a total of 7.5 hours with an hour spent at the lodge. Be certain to do the .2 above the lodge the view was breathtaking.

6 days ago

This is one of the best trails I have been on in a long time.

7 days ago

Great hike tough to keep up with the teenagers. Caves were cool. Rained on the way down but the trails were great. 6 hour round trip to the top.

8 days ago

We hiked to LeConte via Trillium Gap and down via Alum Cave. The trail is steep but in fantastic shape since the renovation. Lots of cables and stairs. Views were stunning and rhododendron were blooming. Can’t wait to do it again!

8 days ago

12 miles, 2,000 calories, and 6 hours. The climb was tough, but the view was worth it!

hiking
8 days ago

My favorite hike in the southeast. Tough, but doable. We started around 8AM and finished at 2PM, but we took our time and stopped for snacks and views, wandered around the summit a bit. There was ice on the trail in November. The chain sections were fun and the cave was a nice halfway point. A must do in the Smokies!

hiking
9 days ago

Awesome day hike!!

hiking
9 days ago

We checked this hike off the list finally on Friday. The weather the first part of the day was perfect but the rain caught us just as we were leaving the summit. Probably one of the best hikes I’ve done. Arch Rock, Inspiration Point, Eye of the Needle and Alum Cave Bluff were all awesome to see along the hike. The folks at a LeConte Lodge were great as well, even got to see the Llamas. Definitely will be back to this mountain again to hike the other approach trails.

hiking
11 days ago

Amazing trail and although there was a decent amount of traffic the views were amazing. You are accompanied by the soothing sound of water most of the trip. Steady incline most of the entire way that also features bluffs, cascades and a natural arch. Would recommend if your in the Smokies.

12 days ago

beautiful views

13 days ago

As a 42 year old in average shape, this trail certainly had its challenges. My husband encouraged me to keep going once we got to the cave and I’m so glad I did. Hurt my knee coming back down, though. Might be worth the investment of trekking poles next time. Took us 6.5 hours including a lunch break at Inspiration Point, taking in the views from the summit and drinking lemonade at the lodge while relaxing in rocking chairs. Can refill water bottles and use the restroom before heading back down. Beautiful views and well worth the struggle to get there.

hiking
15 days ago

excellent hike... had a blast!!

hiking
16 days ago

Hard hike but totally worth iiiiiiit!!! Once you get past the big cave it starts to get hard but don't get discouraged! It is totally doable, even solo. I started around 13:15 (I was booking it though going up) and ended around 18:30. I only saw one outlook because I missed the sign for the first one right across from the cabins. But I will make another trip up there soon.

hiking
17 days ago

Great hike! Definitely worth the time and effort.

18 days ago

Excellent hike to lecomte did this with my son. Took about 6 hours round trip but that included waiting out an afternoon thunderstorm at the lodge. Got to lodge area about 1:45. Started about 10:30-10:45 in morning. Storm rolled in just as we got to lodge. Ate our lunch and worst of the rain was over about 2:30 then started back down. Arrived at car about 4:40. We stopped very little on way back. I’d suggest being on trail by 9:30 or earlier if I were to do again and have something iced down in cooler in car as a reward to self for long hike. It is hard hike and the return can be a little jarring to the knees especially the section from the lodge back to the cave. I wouldn’t say we are fast hikers but we are steady and didn’t take many breaks and the ones we took for water or photos were short. If you’re a slower hiker or need to take lots of breaks or do lots of pictures, I suggest starting early and budget closer to 7 hours.

hiking
19 days ago

There is reason this is the top rated trail.  Up till you get to the stairs it's moderate difficulty.  After that point it's definitely difficult, but you have to make it.  There's a look out point just before the cave so when you get there know you're almost to there.  The cave is pretty unique and you can continue another 2 miles to the top of Mt. Leconte, but we stopped here.  Great trail overall. It is very heavily trafficed so parking may be a little ways away.  Do this trail!

hiking
19 days ago

Great hike!

20 days ago

Incredible hike. Did it in January, in tennis shoes.
I do not recommend this. In the winter, if you do not have spikes, stay away. We had several close calls on the side of the mountain where it is completely ice. Very dangerous without spikes or chains.

hiking
21 days ago

My husband and I braved the trail all the way up to the lodge and beyond to the summit. We left shortly after 7am which was perfect for beating the crowds and getting pictures. The scenery and natural beauty were breathtaking! Round trip it took us about 6 hours including a snack break and some exploring around the cabins.

There were no mosquitoes and only a few gnats near the top. The summit was completely in fog, which was the only disappointment. If you are up for a strenuous hike, we highly recommend it!

22 days ago

1st time my husband and I hiked to Leconte...took us 9 hours total staying up at lodge for an hour to rest...amazing views!...worth every step...

hiking
22 days ago

My family hiked Mt LeConte via the Alum Cave Trail 3 days ago and it was great. Our 5 year old walked it, my husband had our 3 year old on his back, and I’m 25 weeks pregnant. It took us about 3.5 hr on the way up and 3 hrs on the way back down. We did stop at the bluffs on the way up to let my daughter out of her pack and we stopped for about an hour at the top. It was drizzling on and off all day so there were no views at the top. But overall a great hike. Slow and Steady was our motto.

22 days ago

I am proud to be able to claim this as my first hike ever! My husband and I recently decided to take up hiking and we love the GSM so knew it would be our destination place. We had plans to start on an easier and much shorter trail but it was closed for repair so we made our way to Alum Cave and it was awesome! Like I said this was my first hike and I’m a little out of shape so I had to take several short breaks along the way but I can now understand why this trail is rated so high. The views are worth every effort it takes to get there! Conquered this trail and two others (Clingmans Dome and Grotto Falls) all in one day. Not bad for our first ever day of hiking!

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