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Trip

Day Hike - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Day 2 (of 4) hikes in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This challenging hike to the Alum Caves and onward to Mount LeConte is unrivaled in its blend of natural geological markers, scenic views and sheer beauty.

  • Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 11.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 2,763 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 6,593 ft

Alum Cave Trailhead on Newfound Gap Road,  Gatlinburg  at 8:30 am.

35°37'48.5"N 83°26'57.7"W - Google Maps

There is no entrance fee for the Great Smoky Mountains, but a parking pass is required.  $5/day or $15/week.

Fees & Passes - Great Smoky Mountains National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

This is the second of 4 day hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from May 5-8th.  The trails are designed to showcase the best views, wildflowers, waterfalls, geology and history that this park has to offer.   The timing of the trip coincides with the Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage on May 1-4, which the leader will be attending.  This is an event featuring professionally guided walks, exhibits, and other learning opportunities to explore the region's rich natural and cultural resources including fungi, ferns, wildflowers, trees and shrubs, medicinal plants, insects (terrestrial and aquatic), salamanders and snakes, birds, mammals (bats to bears), journaling, art and photography, and park history - and would provide great background knowledge for the proceeding hikes.  Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage 

Pace will be moderate, with plenty of time for taking in the scenery. 

Here is the proposed route for this hike:  https://www.gaiagps.com/public/luKZeRdHZTYf6QRF6jIC8vjc/

This hike is considered the marquis trail in the Great Smoky Mountains! The trail follows Alum Cave Stream, crossing bridges and streams through heavily forested areas to reach Arch Rock in 1.3 miles, the first prominent landmark along the trail. The trail goes under the arch and requires a climb of several steps etched into the stone before exiting at the top and continues to ascend towards Alum Cave.   In the mid-1800s, the cave was mined for Epsom salts, and later, for saltpeter, which was used to produce gunpowder during the war.  Along this stretch of the trail, views of Anakeesta Ridge can be seen and at two miles will reach Inspiration Point, a heath bald that offers commanding views of Little Duck Hawk Ridge, Myrtle Point (near the top of Mt. LeConte) and the Eye of the Needle.  From here, the path climbs steeply toward Mount LeConte, hugging the cliff face passing over several narrow rock ledges, many with cable handrails.  At 6593 feet, Mount LeConte is the third highest peak in the Smokies.  Near the top of the mountain is the Mount LeConte Lodge which offers a variety of baked goods, beverages and sack lunches to day hikers.  After having lunch and exploring the summit we will return down the mountain. 

This is a challenging trail, with some potentially slippery rocks and areas of exposure.  Sturdy footwear, hiking poles and physical fitness are important considerations for a safe experience.

Participants are responsible for their own transportation and lodging, although carpooling options to the trailhead can be arranged.  Leader has secured a 3-bedroom-plus loft home (Apr 30-May 9) in Gatlinburg that can be shared with several participants (send me an email if you are interested).  The Knoxville airport would be the most convenient to fly into.  There will be options for dining together and sharing free time activities.

Route/Place

Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Roster
Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials

  • Navigation
  • Headlamp
  • Sun protection
  • First aid
  • Knife
  • Fire
  • Shelter
  • Extra food
  • Extra water
  • Extra clothes
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