Hiking The Alum Cave Trail

In March we went to the Smoky Mountains and took on our hardest hike to date. We set out on the Alum Cave Trail! We did not take the trail all the way to the peak of Mt. LeConte (5 miles), but we did go about 2.5 miles and stopped at the Alum Cave Bluffs and saw some great views!

If you’re coming from Gatlinburg, you can find the trailhead by heading towards the Sugarlands visitors center and traveling about 8 miles south until you see the sign for the trail. Parking can fill up quick, so it’s best to arrive early!

Although we didn’t get to the peak, this trail was still a tough one! We gained 1,000 feet in elevation in the 2.5 miles to the bluffs. Most of the elevation was gained towards the end.

The beginning portion of the hike is very peaceful as you walk aside the rushing water of the Alum Cave Creek.

After about 1.3 miles you will approach these beautiful stone stairs. This is the Arch Rock and it was created from wind and rain eroding the soft rock, creating this unique cave like formation. You will climb several steps through the cave and upon exiting you will have just slightly over a mile left to the Alum Cave Bluffs!

Although it was about a 65 degree day in Gatlinburg, as we gained elevation we could definitely feel the temperature dip. Fortunately, there were fixed ropes towards the top as the ground got very icy! Along with carefully watching our step, we also had to watch our heads as small icicles and large ice sheets were falling from above. It was such an amazing experience to see all the rocks and ground covered in these sheets of ice!

We finally reached our destination, the Alum Cave Bluff! We learned at this point that there’s not an actual cave, but it’s still an amazing sight! The Bluff is about 80 feet tall and completely made from rock. It does slightly arch, so we were able to sit under it and take in the views while protected from the falling ice!

At this point we just sat at the top and took in the amazing views and embraced the nature around us. In this photo you can see where the trail continues on to reach the peak of Mt. LeConte. We thought about it, however we had already taken on way more than we were prepared for. We turned around and made future goals of one day reaching the top!

Here you can see the top of the bluff from where we were sitting in the previous photo! If you look close enough, you can see the icicles hanging down. The sun came out and increased the amount of ice falling. Larger pieces of ice began to fall, so we headed back down to be safe!

Overall we would say this is a harder hike, not for those who are newer to hiking (like we are). We were exhausted for the next couple days and our bodies definitely needed a break. We are currently training to prepare to hike back up to the peak! If you are prepared we highly recommend this hike, it is peaceful, challenging and absolutely beautiful at the top! It took us about 4 hours and our total distance was 5.32 miles, we gained 1,032 feet in elevation.

One other recommendation is to make sure you have trekking poles! We did not, and immediately bought them after this hike. We saw many people utilizing them and we are certain they would have helped.

Thank you so much for following our adventures! See more on Instagram at Adventuring_ellisons

Published by adventuringellisons

Hello! We are Bryan and Britney, we have been together since 2013 and have always had an itch for adventure! Our current goal is travelling to all the United States National Parks, however we are always up for a new experience/adventure anywhere we go! Come along with us as we share our trips and favorite gear to get us through hiking, camping, kayaking and more!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: