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Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte

HARD 2350 reviews

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.

Distance: 10.5 miles Elevation Gain: 2,942 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

nature trips

walking

cave

forest

river

views

waterfall

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.

hiking
muddy
rocky
1 day ago

The upper elevations were socked in, but even with zero views this was a great trail! To echo what others have said, you will not have solitude. Plenty of challenge without being overly difficult. First portion along the creek is beautiful right now with the changing leaves. Have sturdy shoes! Beyond the cave, the trail is often uneven rock. Cables are bolted in if you need them. The true summit is another half mile or so past the lodge. To the summit & back (plus wandering at the lodge, taking photos, etc.), it was 14 miles.

hiking
3 days ago

Great trail and easy to follow. It is moderately trafficked. Once you get passed Alum cave it seems to thin out. There are some areas of rock that stay slick from springs. The best views are on the way up. Leaves are starting to change but still a good bit of green left. Ate lunch on the cliffs .2 miles further than the lodges. There are bathrooms and the little dinner hall at the top at the lodges. If you want a parking spot get there early!

hiking
3 days ago

Beautiful trail and views that made the hard hike worth it. It was very busy but that was to be expected this time of year. We enjoyed all the different scenery from the river, to fall foliage, and the overlooks. I was also super excited to see the llamas at the lodge!

hiking
4 days ago

Loved this trail! I dont know if it was only 5 miles to Mt LeConte... my watch ended up saying a little over 12 miles from the start to the cliffs and back. When you reach the sign to Mt LeConte after Alum Cave, go right and on the right side you’ll see a trail that leads you to the cliffs. Amazing views! We got lucky for a clear beautiful day. This hike is more strenuous and I’d agree with the hard rating, but SO worth it. Seems like most people stopped at Alum Cave though, so that area was crowded by the time we walked back. Go early, we got there around 8:30 and had no issues with parking along the road. The lots were completely full, though

hiking
rocky
4 days ago

Gorgeous hike - flowing river, massive rock features, and spectacular views. Strenuous terrain, so you’ll definitely want plenty of water and trail snacks to keep you going. It is very busy. You’ll be constantly passing other hikers (even starting before sunrise on a weekday), so if you’re looking for more seclusion and quiet solitude, this is not the trail for you. The “cliff tops” area with the grand finale view was crowded (there was even a woman having a full phone conversation on speaker phone while taking in the summit view). Sturdy hiking boots and trekking poles are ideal. We added and removed many clothing layers with the changes in temperature throughout the day across elevations. That being said, it’s all totally worth it for the beauty on the trail! Stunning views and fascinating ecosystem changes - just an amazing hike! Highly recommend if you’re prepared for the conditions! There are also many shorter versions of the hike that are just as spectacular as the full 11 miles (check the points of interest here on AllTrails for ideas). It took us 4 hours to ascend and 2 hours to descend with a steady pace on the way up and a brisk pace on the way down. We purchased the sack lunch from the lodge dining hall at the top of the trail. It was $12 and included a bagel and cream cheese, sausage, trail mix, Oreos, fruit leather, Gatorade powder, and choice of drink (lemonade, hot chocolate, or coffee). It was delicious and the perfect fuel for our trip back down the mountain!

hiking
rocky
5 days ago

Amazing trail! Very strenuous but worth it. There is a .2 mile extra trail at the top called the peaks, BEST VIEW for there!

hiking
rocky
6 days ago

Trail was hard but well worth the views. The increase in elevation leaves the last half past the bluffs difficult. You must be determined to reach the top. Bring plenty of water. You can refill at the lodge at the peak. It’s hard to find the washrooms and water refill station. Kinda have to wander the lodge area. Walk down the stairs and go left at the bottom. Peak was a pile of rocks. The views just before this is where you want to take it all in. We also did the cliff top out look. 3.5hours up and 2 hours down. We went at a steady pace. Highly recommend hard sole footwear like hiking boots and shoes. Trail was easy to follow.

hiking
6 days ago

amaizing experience; I'm planning to do it next year

hiking
8 days ago

Great trail! Arrive early. We were there at 7:30 and got the last spot in the parking lot. Pretty heavily traveled, but since the trail is so curvy we hardly ever had anyone right next to us. The crowd thins out if you go past the bluffs and to the top. Plenty of amazing views and spots to rest.

hiking
8 days ago

Great trail, though very busy. It’s not technically difficult but it’s a very steady incline the entire way, especially between the cave and the lodge so I’m guessing that’s why it’s rated ‘hard’. We turned around at the lodge but I wish we had gone a bit further for more views. It took my husband and I about 3 hours to get to the lodge and 2 hours back down. The GPS on my phone had us at closer to 13+ miles instead of 10.7… not sure how accurate it is, but it felt like it was more than 10 miles for sure. Our knees are killing right now but the views were worth it!

hiking
9 days ago

Amazing trail! It took my husband and I about 3.5 hrs up, 1 hr at the top and 3 hrs back. We took lots of breaks for water, snacks and to enjoy the views. We normal don’t do “hard” hikes just due to what is around back home but we did this trail and loved every minute. Just take lots of water, some snacks, good shoes and take your time and enjoy it. At Le Conte lodge they do serve food that you can buy 12-5 and coffee is always available. Have put there!!!

hiking
9 days ago

Took us just over 4 hours to complete. The best views were in between the Cave and the Lodge.

hiking
10 days ago

Perfect day on Oct 12, 2019. Mostly dry, very few bugs, 60’s for most of the hike. Chilly in the cloud 3/4 of the way up. The jacket was handy for the wet windy fog. Took us about 4:15 for two in shape hikers including our lunch at the top. Didn’t bring any $, but would have spent some for some hot cocoa or a sandwich at the top if you are there when the lodge was open. Watched you tube for the views we missed! Great trip.

hiking
10 days ago

Moderate more than difficult ... The first horizontal mile, starting there, climbs 1000 meters in 4 miles along a very well marked path. Worth half a kilometer of extension for Cliff Tops

hiking
11 days ago

My favorite trail in the Smokies with fantastic views. Took me about 7 hours round trip but that was me resting for about an hour at the top. Highly recommend this trail

Amazing hike. Long and challenging but 100% worth it. You follow a nice stream for the first 1.5 miles, then you start going up and get amazing views along the way to the top. Definitely my favorite hike I’ve done here.

hiking
11 days ago

A nice moderate level hike. Provides stunning views at a number of spots along the way. The trails starts to gain elevation after Arch rock. Alum cave is a nice spot to take a short break and relax before commencing on a more steeper climb later. The view from Cliff tops is totally worth the effort. The trail to Cliff tops is a short detour after the lodge and provides a spectacular view with Clingmans dome in the distance. Continue hiking after getting to the top of the mountain to reach Myrtle point for another unobstructed view of the valleys and mtns. The trail is heavily trafficked so recommend starting early. Took us about 6.5 hrs to complete it.

Only went 2.7 miles up, a few tenths beyond “cave” where we found an outcropping with a bit of a view and had 2nd lunch. Heavily trafficked but lovely. Some nice vistas and some old growth early on. Moderately strenuous but many with kids.

hiking
12 days ago

We are from Ohio. Flat land central. Longest hike we have ever done was 5 miles in and out. We did this trail, all the way to Mt Le Conte. Left at 9am, back to the car at 4pm. Expect to hike at a steady, sometimes steep incline 90% up. At one point you are legit hiking the side of a mountain. Hold on tight! Well worth it! Feeling very accomplished!

hiking
rocky
12 days ago

What a amazing hike, super proud of our kids, 11 and 9 completed this hike with us. Started at daybreak 7:20 and back about 3:40. Lots of interesting rock features, caves, the views can not be beat of the smokies. Very strenuous hike though and could be very dangerous for inexperienced hikers. Epic hike though!

hiking
13 days ago

My 17 year old daughter and I hiked this on a 55 degree October day. We only had water and a snack bar, but loved the challenging distance. We are in decent shape, but don’t hike very often. It took us about 3.5 hours to go up and 2.5 to come down. I defiantly want to try it again with my lovely wife and spend a few nights up to at the rustic cabins in the absolute quiet and cloudy top.

hiking
13 days ago

Amazing hike. Tough for a La flat lander but this was a long time goal of mine and today I checked it off my hiking list. The views are so beautiful.

Excellent day. Long hike but worth the effort. Jelly legs on the way down for sure. Took it slow and spent 7 hours. Highly recommend this trail!

hiking
16 days ago

Great trail, super fun hike. Didn't really get to see any of the views on the way up because it was way too foggy, but still had an amazing time. A very good mix of up and down with flat sections made it super enjoyable and not too much of a physical challenge. The 3,000 foot elevation change was spread out over the 5 miles up well so it never felt too steep!

hiking
rocky
16 days ago

Was a great hike, pretty steep but worth it. Food and beverages are available for purchase at the lodge at the top along with a free water source. Was hoping to do some camping at the top but come to find out camping requires a permit which is why I give it a 4 star. Overall it was a lot of fun, great views and an awesome experience, happy hiking!

hiking
17 days ago

This is an excellent hike, one of the ‘premier’ hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For experienced hikers, it is a moderate hike and for inexperienced hikers, it may seem more difficult because of the 3000 feet elevation change. The trail is well marked and very easy to follow. There are a few drop-offs that may make those afraid of heights feel uncomfortable. However, there are many interesting things to see along the way, including the Alum Cave, which is almost at the half way point. For those that do not want to hike to the top, this is a good turn around point after taking photos. The LeConte lodge is the highest lodge east of the Mississippi. Food and drink can be purchased. The trail is heavily trafficked. Depending on your level of experience, the trail will take 4-6 hours round trip. I would highly recommend this hike.

hiking
rocky
18 days ago

We only hiked to the cave... Got started a little late around 3:30 and didn’t want to have to do any hiking or driving in the dark. But still a great hike. Took around 2 hours round trip, 4.7 miles total. 1,038 ft elevation gain. Few 1 minute breathers/breaks on the way up. Has some pretty good inclines. Nice short hike if you can’t go all the way up. The cave is cool. More of a bluff then a cave. The last few sets of stairs to get there are leg burners, but not terrible. Fun hike, wouldn’t do it again unless I was going all the way up, but glad we went.

hiking
21 days ago

Take your time with this one. Some great views, especially at the top in the Fall. If it’s cloudy though, you might not see much at the top (being Myrtle Point). Favorite hike in the smokies.

Excellent. Tough climb and jelly legs coming down.

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