Alum Cave Trail
Alum Cave Trail
5
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One of the most popular hikes in the park, it is the quick route to Mt. LeConte Lodge.
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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5.0
458 reviews
Excellent
379
Very good
71
Average
6
Poor
1
Terrible
1

Cherry_Wonderdog
New England2,927 contributions
Oct 2021
This was by far the favorite trail of Cherry Wonderdog during our weekend in the Smoky Mountains even though dogs weren’t permitted. We went first thing on a Friday morning, arriving just after 8 AM. Already the parking area was filled and the overflow parking extended down the road. (We passed this area on Saturday morning a bit later, and the overflow parking extended nearly a mile!). As one of the rangers at the visitor’s center surmised, Alum Cave has the biggest bang for the buck in terms of archeological, vegetational, and scenic beauty of any trail in the park.

I loved this hike not only because of all the beauty in all directions but because it was easy to navigate, with large open spaces, views deep into the forest, colorful trees and luscious rhododendron everywhere, and numerous bridges to cross. Much of the beginning follows along a mountain river, with plenty of opportunities to touch and taste the cold water. The trail is extremely well maintained, and never did I fear we would get lost or fall through or off any of the paths or bridges leading us to the cave at the top. I also appreciated the even terrain which was far easier on the knees than trails with steps or rocks like those in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Alum Cave took us directly through a massive boulder up a staircase with guard railing, then up and over different paths with a variety of gorgeous lookout spots where people were snacking, drinking water, and taking photos in all directions. The foliage was wonderful, and the ‘smoke’ from the smoky mountains made for incredible photography.

Ultimately we reached the Alum Cave at the top, ate one of our Honeycrisp apples, and resumed our two hour trek homeward. Of course, we stopped many times on route again to take more photos now that the lighting changed based on the position of the sun. This was truly a memorable adventure. Highly highly recommended!
Written November 2, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Emily R
10 contributions
Aug 2021
Awesome varied trail with a bit of everything. We have hiked in the Rockies and Cascades and every region has it's own topography to appreciate. Are you at 14,000 ft? No. Is it still beautiful? Yes. We hiked to the top with our young teens and it was tough, but fine for reasonably fit people. Hiking poles would be great for the downhill. The trail is ever-changing, rocky, stairs, creeks, open, forested to keep you going. Some of the photos might make you wonder if there are dangerous drop offs, but we never felt alarmed by any of the crossings or narrow trails. Reasonable precaution is sufficient. There are cables along the wall in many places, more for the fact that the rocks are often wet than because there's an alarming drop-off. But it is a nature trail, not an amusement park with seatbelts and tracks, which is part of the joy of the experience. We parked by 8:00 on a weekday and were just outside the lot. However, we saw very few people as we hiked up - many many more on the way back down, especially once we got back past Alum Bluff. Recommend early start to enjoy your own space and avoid heat in the open areas. We tracked about 5 hours of "moving time" going up and down and walking around at the top.
Written August 16, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Clint D
Rome, GA235 contributions
May 2022 • Couples
My wife and I have been coming to this area for our whole life and this was the first time either of us had hiked the trail.

I will say it is a moderate trail. Once you get to the stairs going through the cave, the hike becomes a little more strenuous. The elevation begins to pick up from that point.

To make it to the bluff is around 2 miles. From the bluff I believe it is just over 5 miles to LeConte summit. we would love to go to the top, maybe another time!

We began the trail around 8:45 am and made it back to our car almost exactly at 12:00 pm. We did notice on our way back down that the trail had definitely added more hikers.

I would say to get there early (8-9:00 am) if you want a relatively less crowd (earlier if you want less). When we left, there were a ton of cars parked on the side of the road for the hike.

We will definitely come back, hopefully next time we will make it to the very top, possibly stay in the LeConte lodge at the top
Written May 28, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Kael C
2 contributions
Aug 2021 • Friends
Anyone who rates this trail positively has never seen mountains before. The views are terrible past the bluffs, and the summit is nothing but a cairn of rocks surrounded by trees so you can’t even see anything from the top, but even if you could, there’s nothing to see because all the landmarks of the valley are covered by trees. Also, very unsafe. At multiple points on the trail, there are hundred foot drops with no guardrails. Several of the bridges are only half built with only one guardrail and nothing on the other side. They can build multiple lodges on top of the mountain but they don’t want to put up guardrails to make sure people don’t fall to their deaths? Sounds like Tennessee. It’s a steep, unsafe, and difficult hike with no payoff. Save yourself the trouble and just go to one of the waterfalls instead.
Written August 7, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Shades4007
Harbor Springs, MI2 contributions
Sep 2021 • Couples
This is a strenuous climb which is quite steep in places. The day we hiked up to the cave was raining at times which made the trail a little more slippery.
I’d do it again tomorrow though if I was in the area. Beautiful scenery and many very large trees made for a wonderful climb. Alum cave bluff is very unique and made for a great place to stop for lunch.
We would have loved to climb to the top of Lacont but there was a storm moving in so thought it would be better left till next trip to the area.
If u get a chance to hike this trail, by all means do it👍🏻
Written September 28, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Sarah S
Fort Wayne, IN84 contributions
Jun 2021 • Family
My husband and I took our almost 2 year old to the Alum Cave Trail because it seemed like a really popular trail for all ages. Little did we know the difficulty from the Arch to the Cave was rather advanced! Very beautiful and not packed even though there was hardly any parking and we had to park 1/4 of a mile away from entrance. It was worth it and our daughter slept the entire way down the mountain. We had rented an Osprey Carrier from the NOK (at the foothills of the mountain in Gatlinburg). Thank God for that too—super great price $20 or $30 for one day, then $10 every day after that. There were no bugs at all; a lot less than we expected or maybe our bug spray really worked! The pictures are worth more than any review! One thing I highly stress is that if you are traveling with children that are too big to carry and you happen to go all the way to the alum cave, do not let them walk around up there. A 12 year old girl tripped on a rock no where near the edge and fell head first down the cliff and was caught by travelers on the stairs going up to the cave. It was the scariest trauma we have ever witnessed, the mom nearly fell going after her. Several bystanders rushed with medical supplies and fixed her up. The girl walked back down the mountain with her parents limping and bandaged knee. Very very slippery slope of dirt and trip/falling hazards.
Written June 18, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Alicia
Bedford, OH23 contributions
May 2022 • Couples
We hike often and found this to be the hardest hike we have done. If you go all the way to the summit of Mt Leconte then be prepared to be exhausted when you get back down to the bottom. The lodge at the top was nice but basic. Porta potty and drinking water is available at the top. Sack lunch was expensive but it's great that there are options of getting some food at the top. If you go all the way to the lodge then take the .3 mile trek to cliff tops. The view is stunning!
Written May 17, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

clydeburgdorf
Saint Louis, MO12 contributions
Jul 2021 • Family
My family loved this hike. We decided to continue on and hike from Alum cave to the top of Mt Le Conte. It was very challenging in places but the views are top notch. Some scary sections near the top but my eleven year olds did ok. Bring lots of water. Keep in mind the restaurant at the top doesn’t open until noon so if you leave early in the morning it might not be open yet when you reach the top. You can refill water bottles there for your trip back down. We loved this hike.
Written July 3, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

California_momofsix
Fairfield1,084 contributions
Jul 2020
This trail was my husband's favorite trail in all of SMNP. The trail encapsulates everything that makes the Smoky Mountains beautiful which is why I would recommend it. The first mile and a half the trail runs alongside a clear mountain creek, one of the most scenic I have seen anywhere. There are many areas where it is easy to access the creek and just sit on a rock and listen to the rushing water--so peaceful. We only hiked the "flat" part up to and through the Arch, which I would rate as an easy hike. The trail is not paved, but well maintained and you cross a few bridges that are little wider than a log with a rail. The bridges and the arch added some unique features which made the trail more fun and interesting. There is more parking than at most trailheads in the park (a lot and an overflow lot) and the trailhead is easy to find right on the main road through the park (441). But since this trail is understandably extremely popular, you will encounter a lot of other hikers. We arrived on a weekday at noon (after waiting out a rainstorm) and with plenty of turnover in the parking lot, we were fortunate enough to get a good spot. Few people were wearing masks outside, but in our experience everyone was polite. Nobody crowded us, and people stepped to the side to pass, so we felt safe. I want to come back and hike the more challenging portions of the trail all the way up to Mount Leconte.
Written August 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

TravelingSoccerLoon
Saint Paul, MN2,142 contributions
Sep 2021 • Solo
Outstanding hike. The best hike I did in the Smokey Mountains. The first 2.3 miles is a moderate hike and takes you past a cascading river, Arch Rock, inspiration point and Alum Cave Bluff. The next 3 miles is a strenuous hike but so rewarding with incredible views along the way and especially when you reach the summit of Mount LeConte at Clifftops and at Myrtle’s Point. Mount LeConte Lodge at the summit offers rustic overnight accommodations. Best enjoyed on a day with clear skies. Very popular hike so arrive early at or before sunrise if you want to park at the trailhead parking lot if visiting on a busy day. However, there is also parking along the road nearby.
Written September 19, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Alum Cave Trail (Great Smoky Mountains National Park) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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