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Alum Cave Trail

 81 votes


10.2 Miles 16.4 Kilometers


2,636' 803 m


-2,636' -803 m



Avg Grade (6°)


Max Grade (16°)

6,370' 1,942 m


3,854' 1,175 m



All Clear 15 days ago
Some Mud: Some mud, but ice and snow are gone. All good. History

Getting forecast...

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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Apr 19, 2018
Matt Warner
Apr 15, 2018
Sarah Schilly
Mt. LeConte via Alum cave. Amazing views with the light snow and low hanging clouds. 12mi
Apr 6, 2018
Amanda Houbre
Apr 4, 2018
Bob Anderson
Watch out for falling icicles st the bluff! Truly a gem of a hike. 4mi
Mar 26, 2018
Ian Simmons
Jan 26, 2018
Ryan Teems
Hike offered beautiful scenery to compliment the distance and gain in elevation. HEAVY ice slowed us down around the 4.3 Mile mark. 10.2mi
Dec 13, 2017
Enrique Flores
Is very hard to reach the top! Not for kids
Dec 3, 2017
Allison Herron

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 81 votes


  4.7 from 81 votes
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