Alum Cave Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular trails in the area. Once you've hiked it, you'll immediately know why it is so loved. The trail is filled with amazing geological features and breathtaking views. You can do a 4.4-mile round-trip hike to the incredible Alum Cave Bluffs or take an 11-mile round-trip hike to the summit of Mount LeConte. At 6,593 feet, Mount LeConte is the third highest peak in the Smokies. You'll also find the LeConte Lodge on the top, a perfect escape for those wishing to spend the night in a rustic cabin under the stars.
Regardless of your destination, Alum is filled with beauty and, on most days, hikers. You'll begin the trail at 3,800 feet and surrounded by an old-growth forest - yellow birch, American beech and buckeyes. The first section of the trail follows a tranquil stream and passes by multiple areas to dip your feet in. You'll also get a taste of the geological features to come as you are surrounded by giant boulders. At the 1.4-mile mark, you will come to one of the most unique features of the trail, Arch Rock. Arch Rock is the tunnel to the views. Keep climbing to reach and soak up such spots as Inspiration Point, Peregrine Peak, the Eye of the Needle and the Alum Cave Bluffs. It is believed that some areas of the bluffs have never been touched by a drop of rain and were discovered by a Cherokee Chief. The Bluff is also a perfect picnic spot, just remember not to feed the local wildlife or leave crumbs behind. Once you're finished up, return to the parking area or trek another 2.7 miles up to Mount LeConte - where the views only get better the higher you climb.