Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Hike Mount LeConte via Alum Cave

11 Miles Total - 2763 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Kyle Evans

This technical trail is Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers amazing summit views with easy access to water and a quick stop off at the Mount LeConte Lodge.

Starting at the Alum Cave Trailhead, take the trail for 1.3 miles along the Alum Cave Creek. From there, steps take you through the magnificent Arch Rock and the climbing really starts. At just over 2 miles from the trailhead sits inspiration point, which is a rock bed that displays the first great view of the mountains.

Not long after, 2.2 miles, you are rewarded with the Alum Cave Bluffs. This massive wall of rock takes your breath away and in the rain can make a nice shelter. At this point many stop and turn back, as the hike to Mount LeConte can be challenging. The paths wind up the mountain as it takes you higher and higher, with small waterfalls and streams flowing all around. The trail includes technical sections where holding onto the support line is a good idea.

Some of my favorite sections were the parts where it was a sheer drop off on one side of the trail. Just before the summit sits the LeConte Lodge, where hikers can stay in a rustic cabin on top of the mountain. We actually waited out thunderstorms in the lodge. Just near the lodge is the trail leading to the summit. In the spring it will most likely be a stream so prepare to get your feet wet. Just before the top a little scrambling is required, but the views on top are incredible. Make sure you explore the top, it is quite big so finding a place to yourself is not much of an issue. The day we went there was still a quite a bit of fog, so viewing was limited but it was still amazing to be up there. Not only is the scenery incredible but once you reach the top you also feel a sense of accomplishment.

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This hike was awesome. The hike itself is very easy. The part that makes it difficult is the length. Had no problem getting up but my feet felt the pain heading down around the last two miles. When you get to the lodge be sure you head up to cliff tops to get the view. Which can be all fog depending on weather. Be sure to go early!! We begin hiking at 6:50am and had the trail to ourselves. It was awesome. However on the way down around 10:30am we passed tons and tons of people. Would not have had the same experience if we left later. Round trip was 6 hours for us including stopping to eat breakfast and hanging out at the top for 1 hour.

Sounds like a blast! I was among the ones who turned around at the Alum Cave Bluffs because time was not my friend that day but it was such an incredible hike and i would recommend even that short amount to anyone. I've got to get back out there, your experience at LeConte sounds amazing. :)

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