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Alum Cave Bluffs Trail
There were a number of hikers resting and hanging out here. 7.33 Tennessee ratingStar
Alum Cave Bluffs Trail guyonthego

The Alum Cave Trail is a 2.3 mile moderate hike in Great Smokey Mountains National Park that begins at a trailhead/parking area just off the main park road and leads to Alum Cave. The trail has an elevation gain of approximately 1,200 feet and ascends Mount LeConte - the third highest mountain in the park at 6,593 feet.

With a variety of trails, diverse habitats, great views and good trail maintenance, Smokey Mountains is one of the best hiking parks in the East. Most people opt for shorter day hikes, but back country hiking and camping is also an option throughout the park. Smokey Mountains also contains 72 miles of the famous Appalachian Trail. Alum Caves is a day hike trail and can be completed roundtrip in about 3 hours at a reasonable pace. It's also the quickest route to the LeConte Lodge, which is 5.5 miles from the trailhead. The lodge is only accessible via a hike.

Both the trailhead and trail were well marked, and the trailhead is 9 miles south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center. There was plenty of parking at the trailhead on an afternoon visit in September, but it might get full in busier summer months. Trail conditions were good, with occasional rocks and tree roots. The trail initially winds through a lush hardwood and hemlock forest. It gets steeper around Arch Rock, and a narrow staircase passes under the rock. The footing around this area could get tricky in wet weather. After Arch Rock the trees transition to spruce and fir, and the habitat gets drier. The views also get better. Alum Cave itself is more of a rock overhang than a true cave. It's enormous though and impressive when viewed up close. A number of hikers stopped here to have some lunch and lounge around. Had there been more time, continuing on the hike to LeConte Lodge would have been on the travel agenda. This hike was enjoyable overall. It offered a good mix of recreation, habitats and views. It’s a solid option for those seeking a moderate and convenient day hike in the park.
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May 2016
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