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Peregrine Peak via Alum Cave Bluffs Trail

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Peregrine Peak via Alum Cave Bluffs Trail is a 4.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 4.2 miles Elevation Gain: 1,059 feet Route Type: Out & Back

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no dogs

Even though Alum Cave trailhead has more parking places than most other trails in the park, it also fills up faster than most. Show up at noon and you'll be looking for a spot along the road some distance from the trailhead.

This is a great trail! The climb was not hard at all and it’s got a lot of diversity. We were trying to beat the rain so we climb very quickly at about 25 min / mi pace. The Alum Cave is totally worth it. We sat for a little bit and grabbed a snack at the cave and then went back down. The trail was “heavily” trafficked but every group basically maintained their distance. Weather was great and cool. I saw couple of families with kids. Some areas are rocky but there are some sort of cable hand rails attached to the rocks so you can hold on. I would definitely repeat. It has been one of my favorite hikes.

1 day ago

One of the most gorgeous paths in the Great Smoky Mountains! I generally enjoy trails with less people, but this trail is so beautiful that any hardship is worth it. I did this hike 2 weeks ago with some of my kids who are not particularly into hiking or I would probably have preferred to have just done the hike all the way to Mount LeConte. My kids from ages 10 to 20 were impressed as well. every aspect of this trail is outstanding. The first part of the hike is along a lovely creek that bubbles over all kinds of interesting rock formations in the quintessential Smokies style. Arch Rock is an interesting twist in the trail that all hikers enjoy. A little farther up I saw the way that I traveled over 20 years ago to go to Mount LeConte off trail. Yes, it would probably kill me now. The rest of the trail weaves by smaller streams before it leaves them for the first flanks of the Heath bald area. When you see the first views to your left, the trail is messing with you. Prepare yourself, every enticing view will be superseded by another until you finally arrive at Inspiration Point. This view is a personal favorite of mine. Yes, there are plenty of other places in the park where you can have views that see farther, but there's something majestic about this view. You seem surrounded by gorgeous higher peaks. If you will look carefully, you will realize that you are looking down toward the Chimney Tops. After you drink in all of those high views above you, look nearer. Across the way, is Little Duckhawk Ridge. You need to take the time to enjoy this view anyway, so be sure to look for the Keyhole in that ridge. Even around you that Heath bald is pure eye candy. Those little trails through the Heath you see on the right above you only go about 10 or 15 ft so you can crawl through them with your children if you like. I did with my youngest. A few feet up the trail, however, there looks to be a trail going off to your left that is actually a sheer drop straight down into a ravine below. I would take the time to look down at it, but I would hold on to my children! You still have a little more ascending to do to get to Alum Cave Bluffs. Fortunately, the trail has been well designed for the massive crowds and there are even steps to actually get to the dry area at Alum Cave. The views here are not as spectacular as back at Inspiration Point, but are beautiful in their own way. Most people try to get a picture showing both the ground level and the top of the cave or bluff above you. As you enjoy this spot, you might want to contemplate how tired you are. If you were going to Mount LeConte you would only be half way! The upper half is a little more strenuous as well. Most people can handle this trail to Alam Cave bluffs quite well, but I did see a few faces where I wondered if they would die along the trail and someone would just have to bury them there. If you are terribly out of shape, you might not enjoy this hike. On the other hand, you will likely be proud of yourself for making it. I did see some people trail running this trail. Personally, I think that's a ridiculous option here. The trail is too crowded and too rocky and possibly slick if there was any rain or snow to make running a good idea. Plus it makes those of us who could not run down it and couldn't dare run up it look bad! :-) For you unfortunate people, who have just a few days and little opportunity to hike this beautiful park, I can't blame you for choosing this one. It lives up to all hype!

hiking
2 days ago

Beautiful hike! Don’t underestimate the mileage, it is definitley a work out. I didn’t have any issues in the trail and it is beautiful if you get to see it in or after the rain. Be smart on the trail and have fun!

Great trail, but some parts were flooded.

hiking
4 days ago

Great views!!!! Definitely recommend this hike.

hiking
6 days ago

A favorite. Love being by a running stream most the way. Strenuous but not too difficult for family. And a great payoff at the end. A great hike. 2 things tho. 1) the signage at the trailhead is different than this hike tho. It will say “Arch Rock” and “Bluff Cave” but I believe they represent this trail. 2) this trail did eat up most our day. Took us 3+ hours with a 7 year old. 4.6 miles doesn’t sound long but was quite a hike

hiking
8 days ago

Hiked it once in the fog on Thursday, and it was so beautiful, I hit it again this morning before I checked out of my hotel. I arrived right as the mountains were losing their mist. The views were absolutely unreal this morning. I am so glad I came back. I understand now why so many come to hike this trail. That said, being the first one up on both days, I passed about 80 people going up as I was going down on Thursday, and easily 125 going down today. Don't plan on solitude if you don't arrive by 6:45 AM or earlier. I hike a lot, so this trail was easy for me. But I really enjoyed it.

Great hike! We ended up getting there a bit later in the afternoon and it was less crowded after rain. Foggy but still totally worth the trek even for cloudy views. I would recommend going up to Mount Leconte if you’re up for it... you can’t beat those views! Still a lot to see and great views just before Alum Cave. Will definitely do it again. Definitely be prepared for rain, as every time I’ve done it it has rained pretty hard.

great hike that takes about 2h to complete. Nice views along the way, lots of streams and small rivers to cross. Saw lots of squirrels and beautiful flowers. The cave at the top is worth the incline

We thoroughly enjoyed this trail. It was a little crowded, but plenty of space to pass one another. We loved the hike along the stream, loved the arch and cave bluff. Once up higher, the open views of the mountains were great! Saw some wildlife (birds, little mountain squirrels, and a couple little snakes sleeping together). It was about 10 degrees cooler than back at our cabin in Sevierville.

hiking
muddy
rocky
12 days ago

Awesome trail. Definitely high traffic but it doesn’t take away from the experience at all. Feels like a gradual increase in altitude at first but it gets steeper as you get closer to the cave bluff. Definitely worth it, AMAZING VIEWS. Saw a lot of people coming back from mt. Laconte including lots of kids. The sign says wear hiking boots but my husband and I were both fine in our chacos. I highly recommend this trail.

hiking
15 days ago

Great trail with a variety of terrain. There were a few stream crossings early on that required walking across a plank about 6 inches wide. There were handrails for safety throughout the hike. Other highlights were climbing the stairs thru the cave, the views among the flowers at Inspiration Point, and the view from the very top. High Top itself has no view, so opt for one of the other summits if you want to see anything. As always in the Smokies, there’s a limited view due to the dense fog. Dedicate your day to this hike, it’ll take a lot out of you.

hiking
muddy
rocky
15 days ago

Great Trail the paths were in great shape and wasn’t really very hard to do. We went up and back in a little over 2hours. Great Views at the finish! Will be back

hiking
17 days ago

My family absolutely loved this trail! It was worth it to see the peak and caverns. It is very different than all the other trails in GSMNP. It is good for kids but they did start to get exhausted towards the end.

hiking
17 days ago

Great trail. We got there about 8am on a Wednesday morning and it was decently crowded already (parking lot was full but plenty of parking along the road). We hiked to Alum Cave and turned around (about 2 hours round trip) but most everyone else was continuing on to the peak that was a couple miles further.

hiking
muddy
18 days ago

A great trail! Extremely busy. The hike from the arch to Alum Cave was strenuous and all uphill but with great views. If you’re not prepared for a leg workout up to the cave, I suggest turning around at the arch. A great hike overall!

19 days ago

It was a great first hike to start off our GSM trip! Beautiful streams and views. Trail is in great condition and also very busy.

hiking
20 days ago

Absolutely amazing hike! Not too long or too difficult, but the views are amazing at every single step and there are plenty of great viewpoints! A must-do in the Smokies.

hiking
21 days ago

Great trail with great views! Very well maintained throughout the whole trail. There were side rails during rocky parts and bridges over the water crossings. After the stairs, the incline starts, but the views at the end are well worth it.

hiking
rocky
21 days ago

Very well maintained trail. Was very rocky and included walking on some slippery rocks, but was developed and had side rails to hang on to. The beginning of the trail followed a creek. Parking gets very busy and when we finished at 12pm it was packed. Definitely suggest going early to get the nice views to yourself

hiking
22 days ago

Nice trail with very pretty views.

hiking
rocky
23 days ago

Nice, short, kid-friendly trail. There are lots of unique plants and animals with signs with information. Took our time and lots of pictures. This is truely a must see unique ecosystem.

hiking
25 days ago

Awesome trail - me and my fiancée hiked this trail and we are newbies to hiking. The hike to the Arch was cake but the uphill battle begins after the arch. Beautiful views toward the top, worth every step! If any other newbies are reading this, some lightweight boots help but are not required and backpack packed with water is a must! Can’t wait to go back to the national forest and hike more trails!

1 month ago

Wow, the view you get just before the cave is awesome. I mean one of the best in the park. As others have said, not too difficult and gets little steeper as you go but so worth it. We continued on past the cave but nothing better than what you see before the cave. Stop reading and hike it.

hiking
1 month ago

Really nice short-ish hike. We saw a bear at the end, in the rain and fog. it was a little scary. Would do again.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike with my kids (10 and 13). Lots of different things to see. Even if you don’t make it to the end this hike is worth it!

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