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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: 2 / 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


IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to major changes in parking availability at the trailhead, we will be using a shuttle service to transport us from Gatlinburg (near the north entrance of the park) to the Alum Cave trailhead on the Newfound Gap Road. The approximate cost of the shuttle is $28 per person. While I'd prefer just to park at the trailhead the way we've always done, all roadside parking has been eliminated, leaving just the two small lots which fill up by early morning on weekends. More details on the shuttle logistics will be provided in early June.



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 shuttle service departure point in Gatlinburg at 7:50 am for an 8 am departure. More details will be provided to participants by early June. Please bring $28 for the roundtrip shuttle.

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. For this hike you will not need a parking permit as we are using a shuttle; however, a parking permit is useful if you decide to spend time in the park before/after this hike.

Required Items to Bring:

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






Sturdy footwear


Raingear (just in case)


$28 payment for round-trip shuttle service 

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 will meet at the shuttle service departure point in Gatlinburg at 7:50 am for an 8 am departure. More details will be provided to participants by early June, including the location where we will meet. 


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

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