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Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte is a 10.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is best used from March until November.

Length 10.5 mi Elevation gain 2,929 ft Route type Out & Back

Hiking

Nature trips

Walking

Cave

Forest

River

Views

Waterfall

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Muddy

Rocky

Scramble

Snow

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (10)
Facilities
Contact
Tips
Getting There

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.

There are two parking lots with restrooms. This trail is so busy and popular that hikers park on the side of 441 so watch out for hikers and kids getting in and out of their cars

Great Smoky Mountains National Park 107 Park Headquarters Road Gatlinburg, TN 37738

From the Sugarlands Visitor Center, drive 8.7 miles south along Newfound Gap Road to the Alum Cave Trailhead. The parking lot is on the left. If you want to stay at LeConte Lodge make reservations ahead of time. The cabins fill up a year in advance on busy weekends.(Although with drop outs you may be able to find a reservation) You can fill up your water bottles at LeConte Lodge.

From the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, drive 8.7 miles south along Newfound Gap Road to the Alum Cave Trailhead. The parking lot will be on your left. Due to the popularity of the Alum Cave Trail, there are two parking lots for this trailhead. To ensure a spot, you may want to get here early during peak hiking season, as well as any nice weekend throughout the year.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (2972)
Photos (6112)
Recordings (1727)
Completed (6675)
Kevin B
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 13 2020
Hiking

I fell in love with Mount LeConte a few years ago. I did the Rainbow Falls trail that time so I wanted to take a different path this time (plus, I see from the recent posts that the forest fires from a couple years ago affected part of that trail - bummer). The Alum Cave trail is shorter than the Rainbow Falls trail and I would say more scenic and fun as well. I highly recommend getting up to LeConte, the sixth highest peak east of the Mississippi. Just make sure you find the extra little trails at the top. That’s where the amazing views are. Unfortunately, it was packed when we got up there, but it was a holiday weekend.

Eva Hayes
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 13 2020
Hiking

Awesome trail! Rained the whole time up but was part of the experience! The first two miles up is great, after that the trail gets intense but is so worth the views! You will be good and sore by the time you’re done, but it’s a great feeling to finish strong. Would not recommend the last couple miles for children who aren’t really down for a challenge. Overall we had a great time and got a lot of great pictures! Would recommend but with caution to tourists who are not used to very strenuous activity. We came from Chicago, which does not have such terrains and we were whooped for a couple days after. Bring water and snacks! The whole trip took us 7 hours non-stop!

L D
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 11 2020
HikingMuddy

Amazing trail w amazing views ! Nice bc every time i got tired I stopped and the views were awesome . Once again get there early bc the trail gets busy later in the day .

Paige Dillon
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 11 2020
Hiking

Highly recommend this trail. Strenuous but worth it every step of the way. There are ground squirrels and birds at the bluffs. Views just beyond are spectacular. This was an afternoon hike for us, finishing around 8pm with a little soak in the cold river. Honestly, if you aren’t up for strenuous, hike a little ways in and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in your hammock.

Meghan Biddick
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 11 2020
HikingMuddyRocky

We really loved this hike. Finished in 4 hours 50 minutes; consider ourselves reasonably athletic for comparison. The first two miles were reasonably easy with steady incline until the ascent into Alum Cave. After that it was heavy incline. Rained partially. Heavy cloud cover at the top but still worth it!

Shannon Cooper
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFri Jul 10 2020
HikingMuddyRocky

Definitely a challenging trail. Read the reviews on here and started at 6:30. Had no problems with parking. Got to the top and the fog was still pretty thick. Waited for about 30 mins and it cleared leaving us with gorgeous views. Met many friendly people on the trail. Very busy trail on the way down. Had lunch by the stream once we got back to our car.

Randy Hebert
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarFri Jul 10 2020
Hiking

It’s definitely a challenge. Start early, the parking lot was full by 7:00am. For the effort, there isn’t much of a payoff at the top. There are great views along the way, but the end was a little anti-climactic. The caves are less than half way up and are okay. There is a lodge at the top, but it’s dining area hours (as posted at the time I was there) didn’t start until noon

Megan Pszonak
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFri Jul 10 2020
HikingMuddyRocky

This trail was very good- and also the longest hike my husband and I have done. It was pretty tough going up but also coming down because it was very muddy and the rocks were very slippery. I would encourage you to wear hiking boots and not tennis shoes if possible to help with traction. We started the trail at 6:30am and it took us about 6 hours and 27 minutes. It took us way longer to come down because it was very very crowded as we came further down the mountain. When we got to the cave there were so many people we ended up putting on our masks because everyone was close to one another and did not give anyone room. My husband and I both actually had two random people run completely into us not paying attention and trying to skip up as we climbed down some of the rocks going down- which led to me falling pretty hard on a rock. Needless to say- get to the trail early so you avoid this craziness but also guarantee a parking spot. When we left cars were parked on either side of the roadway for at least a mile either way. When we arrived at the top it was very cloudy and unfortunately we did not get super good views- but it was still worth it and the views going up with amazing! I plan to recommend to all our friends and family who come to the smokies often!

Bryan Shin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jul 10 2020
Hiking

Adventurous, challenging and beautiful trail! We arrived around 7:40 AM and the parking lot was almost full, however there still were some street parking spots available. I recommend getting there early. I went on this hike with my wife and two of my kids and took a total of 8 hours round trip. We took plenty of breaks in between. Because of the rainy weather, the ground was wet so the trail was a bit slippery, and the trail is mostly shaded. We recommend bringing hand sanitizer or wipes to wash hands after touching the railings. There also aren't any signs on the trail to mark miles or view points. Make sure to watch out for the "Cliff Tops" sign near the LeConte Lodge and hike 0.2 more miles to reach the summit.

AllTrails User
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jul 09 2020

This was one of the most beautiful hikes I have done. Start off hiking along the river and across some log bridges. Then scenery transitions from river cascades to breathtaking mountain views. It is definitely a work out, so come prepared. Took about 5.5 hours to complete with only stopping for 30 minutes or so at the top. As others have stated, go early or deal with the crowds. It is a super busy trail, but does lighten up after the first half as less people go to the top.

Annie Friedl
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Jul 09 2020
HikingMuddyRocky

Great trail. Definitely challenging but worth it for the views. Be sure to bring plenty of water and be easy on your knees on the way down seeing as it is fairly steep. Not great for kids. Fun bridges and logs to walk over as you cross the two rivers that intersect this trail. Leave yourself plenty of time for this one and get there as early as possible since it is very heavily trafficked later in the day. All in all a fantastic trail.

Wyatt Anness
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarWed Jul 08 2020
Hiking

Solid Trail. Get there early. View from cliff tops can be hit or miss with clouds. 2 miles in there is a nice clearing below the cloud line for views.

Kate Mozynski
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarWed Jul 08 2020
HikingRocky

This is a beautifully maintained trail, and it's a great workout. My partner and I are both overweight, but we have been working hard to get in shape by hiking. For us, this was strenuous, but doable. We did it on day 3 of hiking- it's definitely a day one or two trail for the average bear. The last bit towards the lodge flattens out after a strenuous climb up. We both clocked this trail at closer to 14-15 miles. Crowds die down past Alum cave, and even though it was cloudy at the top, we still got lovely views on the way up.

Bob Dawes
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jul 07 2020
Hiking

Great hike. Views are great, and the ~2700’ of ascending and descending are are workout. Loved the rocky path and views the best The store up at Mount LeConte is closed from 9:30am to noon, so we didn’t restock other than water.

Roger C
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jul 07 2020
Hiking

Great hike, definitely a workout. Got to the parking lot at 8 am, grabbed one of the last open spaces. Very enjoyable ascent, not that many people we passed. Definitely would recommend pole/walking stick as the descent got slippery in places. Six hours total, including 45 mins at the summit. Passed lots of families on the descent, especially after Alum Cave. Most were not wearing face masks.

Kyle Ewald
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Jul 07 2020
RunningGreat!Rocky

Beautiful trail steady incline. Pretty rocky which is not bad in the steeper sections there are some holding lines to assist if your without poles. I got on trail about 645am which I would say if you plan on running/scrambling earlier the better as the trail was pretty full on my way down.

View Kyle's Recording
Alya M.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 06 2020
HikingGreat!

A really lovely trail! We would have had an amazing time if there weren't so many people, and if more people work masks when passing one another. Please wear masks at least when passing! Definitely go on a clear day as the views were stellar. Cliff Tops had the best view of the entire trail, but we loved hiking along Alum Creek too. Pretty wet /muddy in places but we were both wearing sneakers and that was totally fine.

Missy Richardson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 06 2020
Hiking

I can’t believe we got lucky enough to hike this trail on such a beautiful day. We started a little after 8, reached the summit around 10:45, stayed at the top until 11:45, then made it back down before 2. Don’t skip out on the area marked as “cliff tops,” as that has the best views near the summit.

Chris Anzidei
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 06 2020
Hiking

Amazing views make this hike worth the steep grade and foot traffic. Lots were full by 9am but plenty of street parking was available. Trail was very busy by 11am.

View Chris's Recording
Luke Hillis
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 06 2020
Hiking

Probably my favorite trail in the Smokies. Challenging but not too hard. Incredible views at the top of LeConte and the foliage change is amazing to witness as you climb higher up the mountain to the very very very top with the endangered flowering plants and firs

Charles Ingrum
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jul 06 2020
HikingGreat!

Beautiful throughout but if you really want the most scenic areas you have to get to the last quarter of this hike. Ledges of the mountain range exposed to the peaks around you and the valleys below.. excellent spots for photos but be very careful, there isn't much of a ledge and I would not recommend taking selfies in fear of loosing your footing and falling. A bit crowed later in the day but we started off at 7:30am so the beginning wasn't too packed. Worth the effort if you are in good enough shape for the climb.

Meghan McCann
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 05 2020
HikingRocky
Raffaella DeAmicis
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Jul 05 2020
Hiking

Easy to follow trail with great views. Definitely bring good shoes, especially if it’s been rainy. Up the the alum caves sneakers are fine but as you go up it gets rocky and damp and you’ll appreciate the security of solid treads. You can refill water at the lodge which is nice and it has very basic bathrooms which get rather funky in summer.

Anna Fernandez
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Jul 05 2020
Hiking

Nice hike, Views from the top are probably stunning but we were not lucky with the weather.

Kayla Schlabach
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jul 04 2020
HikingRockyScramble

No dogs aloud and a difficult uphill all the way out trail. High traffic.

View Kayla's Recording
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