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GSMNP - Alum Cave Trail to Mt LeConte

The Basics:
Event Type:Hike
Event Location: Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Alum Cave Trailhead
Date(s) & Time:Sun, Jun 25 2023  8:00 am >> Sun, Jun 25 2023 3:00 pm
Registration Opens: Thu, May 18 2023 7:10 pm
Registration Cut Off: Thu, Jun 22 2023 12:00 pm
Event Duration:7 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D5: Difficult
Distance:13 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Greg Pharo
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:8
Minimum Group Size:2
Number Registered So Far: 1 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No


Join me as I enjoy two epic hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains this June. Let's escape the heat of Atlanta and head to the beautiful, high elevation mountains where the temperatures are cooler and the views are spectacular!


(2) Sunday's Hike: Mt. LeConte via Alum Cave Trail



This is one of the best dayhikes in the Southeast. It's certainly a personal favorite of mine. Alum Cave Trail has just about everything: a beautiful cascading creek, unusual rock formations, huge cliffs, majestic views, fantastic summit, a hike-in lodge near the summit, fabulous wildflowers, gorgeous alpine vegetation ... and some *wow* surprise features!

We will meet at the Alum Cave Trailhead along the Newfound Gap Road at 7:50 am, and will start our adventure promptly at 8:00. Our early start time allows us to beat the crowds. 

The hike starts at the Little Pigeon River's west prong, and then follows the beautiful cascades of Alum Cave Creek for a bit over 1 mile. We'll hike along the lush forest floor and enjoy the sound sof the tumbling creek. At 1.3 miles we'll up through a large slate formation known as Arch Rock shortly before we turn left and ascend to Inspiration Point, which offers nice ridge views. Nearby we can glimpse the Eye of The Needle, an unusual rock formation, before we continue upward to Alum Cave at 2.2 miles. This huge bluff soars up nearly 90 feet and is a good place to enjoy still more views of the valley below. We'll then wind our way up Mt. LeConte, alternating between lush trail, ridgeline walks, and rock ledges with cable hand rails. The views become increasingly more spectacular until we near 6,300 feet elevation, where we'll enter a realm of spruce and Frasier firs which looks like a Christmas tree farm. The trail flattens out around mile 4.6 and we'll reach Mount LeConte Lodge at mile 5.0. The lodge has water, pit toilets, souvenirs and more (sorry, no llamas on Saturday!) We'll then head up just a bit further to enjoy lunch at Cliff Tops, where the panoramic views, rock formations, and myriad hues of green vegetation make for a dining experience like no other. We'll then work our way over to the proper summit of Mt. LeConte and on to Myrtle Point for some more spectacular long-range views. Afterwards we will proceed back down the Alum Cave Trail to our cars.

This hike is a challenging D5 mountain trek with 3,300 feet of ascent covering almost 13 miles. You'll need recent D5 or equivalent hiking experience and be comfortable moving at a moderate pace of over 2.5 mph. If you don't have recent D5 or higher hiking experience with the AOC I will contact you to determine whether this event is right for you.

I will be staying in the area this weekend on a family trip, so I won't be able to offer a carpool from Atlanta. Due to the early start times I encourage participants to spend the night nearby. There are many accommodation options nearby, ranging from tent camping to hotels to cabins.

NOTE: As of March 2023 GSMNP now charges a $5 daily fee for parking. Click here for more information on parking fees and payment options.

Required Items to Bring:

At least 1 liter of water (we can refill bottles at Mt LeConte Lodge)






Sturdy footwear


Raingear (just in case)


Payment for GSMNP parking (see above)


Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

Hiking poles



Insect repellent

How to Get There:
Event Directions:



* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.

Registration for this event opens at 5/18/2023 7:10:00 PM