Tennessee: Great Smoky Mountains – Alum Cave Nature Trail 17 km

Hiking by myself today.  Good Mrs was going for a girly day to Gaitinburg inside Tennessee. So I planned for a strenuous longer hike, despite possible thunderstorms and rain forecast.

We drove to the Alum Cave Nature Trail trailhead which is just beyond Newfound Gap. It is also inside Tennessee this time.

On the board is an overview of the hike up to Mount LeConte.

The hike starts at 1169 meters and ascends up to Mount LeConte at 2010 meters. That makes it an elevation difference of 840 meters to climb. Too easy… 🙂

We wave goodbye to each other and I start my hike just after 8am.


The Alum Cave Nature Trail has a huge variety of surfaces and is fascinating. It climbs for pretty much the whole way of 5.5 miles (about 9kms). There are several “bridges” over the rivers and creeks.

A couple of location shots…

An early highlight is the Arch Rock. These stairs go through… an arched rock.

I reach Alum Cave Bluffs after around 1 hour of hiking.

Alum Cave Bluffs is a destination in itself for many.  For others like me it is perfect for a break. Although the views were better at other places along the Alum Cave Nature Trail. A few examples…

The Alum Cave Nature Trail occasionly hugs the edge of the mountain with wires to hold onto.

Don’t look down here…

Continue climbing…these stairs are cut from one tree per section.

Mount LeConte is actually a resort of kind rather than a hiker’s shelter. I didn’t get that from the map and from the Visitors Center.

The cost per person to stay at Mount LeConte is $138.19 as I overheard somebody asking one of the staff. Yep, down to that cent. Double that if you’re a couple. Not cheap.

How do they get supplies up to here? There is no road for quite some distance. There is another trail there from the road which permits horse riding. So supplies has to arrive either by horse or by hikers.  (I assume that helicopter is not a viable alternative).

Here is the dining room and it does look like one in the inside.

Me, of course, had brought my own lunch. I just took advantage of Mount LeConte’s facilities to feed myself…

A nice break then the Alum Cave Nature Trail back down again, which was faster, of course.

I arrived back at the Alum Cave Nature Trail trailhead around 1.15pm. Di had already arrived and was there nibbling on her lunch. The clouds had now rolled in as predicted and thunder was then followed by the rain. I was not too wet as the rain had only started during the last km of the hike.

Great hike with an exciting path providing great views.

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