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 best used 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.
This is easily one of the best hikes in the southern Appalachians. It is well marked, fairly strenuous, and has beautiful views throughout. I happened to be there after some snow came through, and the trail was covered in ice... If you find yourself on the trail in icy conditions, I highly recommend poles and shoe spikes, as some of the open rocks near the top can be very treacherous.
In my opinion one of the most satisfying and diverse trail the National park offers. It's not a high mileage hike but ascent will get to you if you're not prepared. Bring plenty of water in the summer. If you don't , there are a couple of natural springs on the Mt. Leconte portion of the trail. Beautiful views and incredibly rewarding.
Loved this mountain. Was very icy 2 days after the last snow. Microspikes were a life saver. Hike to Alum Cave Bluffs isn't too bad. The second half to the lodge is a little more difficult but well worth the effort. This is an amazing trail with a little bit of everything the Smokies has to offer. Can't wait to do it again on a clear day.
Even though there was a good layer of ice and snow on more than half the trail that made for a hazardous, strenuous time, the views were absolutely worth it. Would love to hike again in the fall.
Was told by a local that is was the most scenic trail in the area and I was very impressed, even at the start. Views just about every tenth of a mile and the lodge was kind enough to let us rest for a few minutes next to the furnace. Most of the hike you will think you are at the top, but the views will continue to get better.
It was very cold. Like -°. But very beautiful and fun! Went back the week before thanksgiving. 4 of us backpacked and stayed for a couple days. It was amazing.
The views are awesome! There was alot of ice as you got closer to the top and was difficult to manage at times just have to be cautious. It took me 5.5 hours with about 45 minutes of breaks at a brisk pace.
Amazing views the entire way. It's worth it. Just do it.
Got down from hiking this today. Amazing vista views but the ice was making it really challenging during some sections. Ice was falling and melting making it dangerous for us in the caves heading to and from the peak. Posting pics, an amazing day weather wise low 40's and sunshine. Great hike
awesome hike. lots of trail maintenance done.