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Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte

HARD 2464 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
1 day ago

My husband and I went to the Great Smoky Mountains for our one year wedding anniversary back in September of this year. This was a hard hike, but SO WORTH IT. We had beautiful weather, in the 90’s and sunny on the way up the mountain. About halfway back down, we had to bunker down with other hikers in Arch Rock due to a rain storm. I loved this trail. It has amazing views and I can’t wait to visit the GSM National Park again someday. This trail I 100% recommend if you are in good shape.

hiking
4 days ago

Great hike! Strenuous yet rewarding. Streams, Views, Cliffs, Cave; this hike has it all. Not ideal for those that want to do primitive camping as there are hardly any camping sites along the trail. (I may be wrong but I don’t recall seeing any nearing the top of the mountain.) You can pay to sleep in one of the log cabins at Le Conte Lounge but be prepared to spend a pretty penny. Overall nice experience.

hiking
7 days ago

Did this hike 12/6/19 in just over 5hrs. I’m not a serious hiker and I’m not in the best shape. It’s rated as hard but if your questioning if you can do it, you can! It got a little icy at the top but really wasn’t that bad. The view was definitely worth every step.

hiking
muddy
rocky
15 days ago

Been meaning to hike this for a while finally did. Twas awesome but was very foggy once above the clouds and unfortunately the sun was gone by the time we got back. Great trail and in very good shape. Trekking poles are a good idea.

hiking
16 days ago

loved the trail.

hiking
16 days ago

I hiked it all, just didn't record it entirely. Great trail!

hiking
16 days ago

great hike with nice views along the way. I went on a nice sunny day with plenty of other groups and families on the trail. pretty icy, esp the last few miles, but nothing too crazy even in tennis shoes. did it in around 5 hours

hiking
17 days ago

One of my favorite trails in the Smokies for its rigor and sights. It's a moderate trail up to bluff, and then a solid incline up to the top of Mt. LeConte. It can be tough, but it's incredibly rewarding. There was no need for Yaktrax today, but I strongly recommend trekking poles. Side note: The lodge closed for the season today.

hiking
18 days ago

Gorgeous trail! The very end is a bit of a let down- it’s just a ginormous cairn, BUT make sure you take the little side loop to the cliff edge. It’s within a half mile of the trail’s end- spectacular!

hiking
muddy
18 days ago

washed out
19 days ago

What a wet day. We did this as a day hike, but pretty much everybody else we saw on the trail were folks coming from or going to a night at LeConte lodge. If it's real rainy, you will get wet. Four small waterfalls along the trail and at least two of them seemed unavoidable. A lot of slick spots on the rocks but every one had a cable which was great. Never really got muddy, just wet. I had a great time despite that, and the coffee and cocoa on leconte at the lodge were clutch. Got a new pair of socks when I was up there because I went through the two pairs I brought. I'm sure this would've been even nicer on a semi decent day, but 5 stars for a great experience and several water based jokes along the way.

hiking
icy
muddy
19 days ago

Very strenuous trail especially after Alum Cave. Allow at least 6 hours to complete the trail if you are in moderate shape. Going down is killer in your knees so if you have any type of knee problem, make sure you are prepared. The iced over areas near the top are difficult to navigate if you don’t have the proper shoes. I also recommend bringing poles if you are going all the way up - they will help a lot with stability.

hiking
27 days ago

A great trail - very well maintained for a “hard” trail up to a mountain summit. Lots of steps crafted for steep inclines and hand holds for exposed areas. If you’re an experienced hiker this is not a hard trail at all. Husband and I were up in 2.5 hours and down in 2 (reckon it took a bit longer than originally estimated because the trail gets a bit icy past Alum Cave). TIP - if you want food or drinks at the lodge, walk right up to the kitchen door that says “employees only” and make yourself obvious to the many employees bustling around. Otherwise you’ll sit in the dining area for 40 minutes twiddling your thumbs.

Loved this trail. We hiked in and all the way up to the Lecont Lodge. The cave is beautiful, the stream that your hike along at the beginning is really cool. The views from the cliff above the lodge out over the Smokys are stunning. Highly recommend. We did a total of 11.5 miles in 4 1/2 hours.

hiking
rocky
snow
29 days ago

Awesome trail awesome view. be prepared for a hard hike.

hiking
muddy
rocky
1 month ago

Great trail, great hike. The summit is just a giant cairn in the middle of the forest, not a great view, but if you take the cliffs turn off (you could even make it a lollipop loop as the hike’s end) and you get your view. It’s a little icy in spots. We’re definitely getting into microspike season.

hiking
1 month ago

Very diverse and interesting hike! Go early and watch the ice but enjoy some hot cocoa just before the summit!!!

Great trail for variety

My wife and I have done many different trails throughout the smokies and Nantahala and this has been our favorite so far. The view at the clifftops is amazing and definitely worth the hike up. That being said it is a more difficult trail. The hardest section is from 2.5 mile-4.5 mile mark. A good benchmark is if the Yellow Mountain Trail in the Nantahala. If you can complete that one you can do this one. We both felt that Yellow Mountain was a more difficult hike. If you can, definitely hike to the clifftops!

hiking
1 month ago

A really good hike, but just beware this hike is absurdly crowded, even starting at sunrise. For the majority of the hike, especially coming down, I rarely spent more than 45 seconds without seeing other hikers.

hiking
icy
muddy
1 month ago

We started at 7:30 pm, took our time and went all the way to the summit. Back to the parking lot at 2:15. I didnt mind seeing other hikers there, it was beautiful to see so many families spending time together. The views are magnificent. I didnt know you could get coffee at the lodge, darn it. I didnt bring any $$. I hope you can go. Bring a nice picnic to enjoy at the top!

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome view at the end and not too hard!

hiking
icy
rocky
1 month ago

One of the best hikes you’ll ever experience anywhere in the United States. Start at sunrise or you’ll be too late to miss the crowds.

hiking
blowdown
muddy
1 month ago

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