Alum Cave Trail - 6250'

Mt. LeConte, TN (7-14-05)

One of my favorite hikes in the Southern Appalachians. I left on a foggy July morning to beat the crowds. Unfortunately, the skies didn't clear as much as I hoped. This is a 12 mile round-tripper that gains over 2500 feet of elevation. It was also the first peak I bagged on the South Beyond 6000 list. Enjoy!!

Recently (2014) I made a return trip to LeConte armed with a better camera and on a somewhat clearer day...you can check it out HERE


Route Type:  Out-and-back              Difficulty:  EXTREME  (Petzoldt Rating:  19.90 )

Hike Length:  13.6 miles                    Hike Duration:  6:30

Trailhead Temp:  70'F                         Trail Traffic:  100+ people

Min. Elevation:  3,800'                         Max Elevation:  6,593'

Total Vertical:   3,150'                          Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  463'


Trails Used (blaze color):  Alum Cave Bluffs (unblazed), The Boulevard (unblazed), Rainbow Falls (unblazed)

  • John Helms

    on November 16, 2015

    I have hiked this mountain several times. It is an absolutely beautiful place. I think your assessment of the lodge and its placement are unfair. It is the perfect place for such a rustic hostel in the sky. The beauty of the Smoky Mountains is often subtle in comparison to say the Sawtooths and the Bitterroots, but this ancient beauty is second to none. It is a wonderful place in any season and though I wish it could be enjoyed by everyone, I am glad it is still remote and at least difficult enough to reach to keep the throngs of people away from it. It can be a peaceful place of solitude and reflection for those in search of such a place.

  • Francie Moore

    on August 29, 2012

    Hi! I'm doing a project on Mt. LeConte because it is my favorite place in the world, and my research brought me here! Great pictures! I'm only 14 so you wouldn't expect me to have hiked up Mt. Leconte very much huh? Well, I have hiked it 17 times and spent the night 14. I love this place!!!!!!!!!!

  • gail f.

    on July 26, 2012

    i loved the hike up! did it in oct 2011 and there was snow on top and it was beautiful!!!! would love to do this again!!

  • Malissa

    on June 8, 2011

    Thanks so much for taking the time to document this hike. Hiked up to Alum Cave Bluffs with our 6 and 8 year old and we are really wanting to go all the way to LeConte. Your write up gave us a good idea of what to expect after Alum Cave, thanks!!

  • James

    on December 14, 2010

    I've hiked this trail over a hundred times and is one of my favorite hikes in the park because of the interesting features, the landscape, the incredible views and Mt. Leconte lodge at the top! You've got to get over the fact there is a lodge near the top of the summit. The first lodge was built before this was a National Park, and it has a lot of history and interesting stories to tell. It's very rare to see a lodge at the summit of a mountain in any National Park, and this is what makes is so unique and a very neat place to stay! Until the 90's, they used to have a large black kettle full of hershey bars that hikers could purchase in the community lodge where you check in, which was a special treat... and they have a lot of interesting historical information posted there as well. Mount LeConte is awesome!