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Alum Cave Trail

 57 votes

10.2 Miles 16.4 Kilometers



2,636' 803 m


-2,636' -803 m


6,370' 1,942 m


3,854' 1,175 m



Avg Grade (6°)


Max Grade (16°)

All Clear

93 days agoUpdate

A classic hike in the smokies with excellent views, log bridges, and a giant bluff.

Ramoun Cabuhay


In order to reach Mt. LeConte, visitors can expect to hike ~5.5 miles (one way) with over 2,700 feet in elevation gain. Proper footwear is recommended as, although the trail is fairly well made, certain sections can become icy and slippery depending on weather and time of the year. Luckily, recent trail restorations have made the trail a bit wider and easier to travel. The trail is fairly gradual with minimal steep sections, although proper footwear is recommended.
Features: Cave — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Views — Wildflowers
Family Friendly: A beautiful trail with lots of scenery and excellent views.
Dogs: No Dogs


Alum Cave Trail starts out fairly easy and gradual, running parallel to Alum Cave Creek for about a mile. It then switches on to Styx Branch, eventually leading to Arch Rock. Arch Rock was formed by the freezing and thawing of water, causing the softer rock under the arch to be eroded away. Make your way across the bridge and up the steps that go through the arch.

Continue on the trail for less than a mile, and you'll reach inspiration point, which boasts amazing views of Little Duck Hawk Ridge to the west, and Myrtle Point on Mt. LeConte towards the northeast. On a nice day, you may be able to see The Eye of the Needle, a hole atop Little Duck Hawk Ridge.

Continue on the trail until about 2.2 miles from the trailhead, and you'll encounter Alum Cave, for which the trail is named. Alum Cave is actually not a cave, but a bluff named after the the Alum deposits found on the walls of the "cave." The ground here can be fairly loose and slippery, especially during periods of rain. Also, be cautious of falling icicles from the top of the bluff.

Follow along the walls of the bluff and follow the sign to continue on the trail. At approximately 2.6 miles, you'll reach Gracie's Pulpit, which marks the halfway point of the trail.

Continuing on, you'll pass through ledges with cable hand holds. Certain parts have small waterfalls that can become icy and slippery during colder seasons so be careful on the ledges! The last ledge passes just under Cliff Top, and the trail ends at Rainbow Falls Trail.

For the best views of the Smokies from the lodge, check out Myrtle Point and Cliff Top. Myrtle Point offers nearly 360-degree views, and Cliff Top offers the best views of the sunset.

Flora & Fauna

The first mile or so leading up to Arch Rock passes through a large number of rhododendron. One may or may not encounter black bears at the top around LeConte Lodge, and peregrine falcons may also be spotted from Inspiration Point and other viewpoints along the trail.


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4.7 from 57 votes

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Nov 18, 2017
Matt McCullars
1.5 mile along water, pretty but crowded. Cave at 2.5, Nice overview just prior. Up to Le Conte completely different. Beautiful but steep and tough 11mi
Nov 18, 2017
Emily McCullars
Strenuous but beautiful!! 11mi
Nov 15, 2017
Brian Rishel
Oct 31, 2017
Luke Jones
Oct 20, 2017
Dennis Chan
Mile 3-4 fairly steep, apparently hardest trail to reach Mt. LeCont 5mi
Oct 15, 2017
Alex Fox
Oct 14, 2017
Nate Zsolcsak
Oct 11, 2017
Bob Berger

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 57 votes


  4.7 from 57 votes
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5,554 Since Sep 4, 2015
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All Clear 93 days ago
Some Mud - A bit wet, some mud, but well maintained.
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