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Hike Mount Laconte Via Alum Cave Featured
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Best Hikes on the East Coast

Hike Mount LeConte via Alum Cave

  • 12 miles - Hard Effort
  • 6-8 Hours (Total)
  • Can Get Very Busy
  • 3,100 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 6,593 feet
  • No Dogs Allowed

The hike to Mount LeConte from the Alum Cave Trail is considered the marquis trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's a challenging hike but very doable by most folks. The trail is beautiful, easy to follow, and offers lots to see along the way.

In this Guide:
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions & Video
  • Interactive Trail Maps
  • Insider Tips & Recommendations

Where is the Alum Cave Trail?

Laconte Area Map
The hike is located in the heart of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, along Newfound Gap Road (Rt 441). The closest town is Gatlinburg, which is also a great place to use as a base to explore the park.

Use this trailhead address:
Alum Cave Trailhead Parking Area, 3639 Newfound Gap Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Laconte Area Parking
There are two parking lots. The westernmost lot has a bathroom. The trail starts in the middle of the two lots.

This is the most popular hike in the park. Get here at sunrise for your best chances at getting a parking spot.

Mount Lactone Hike Parking Lot
The parking lot is not big, and there is no roadside parking allowed.
Mount Lactone Hike Parking Machine
You now need a parking pass within the park, and unfortunately, the America the Beautiful passes don't work here. Pick up a pass at the nearby Sugarlands Visitor Center, or get one in advance online (you need a license plate number and a printer).

Gear Recommendations

This is a true backcountry hike, and you should prepare accordingly.

Gear That I Love Right Now

Nothing is sponsored or promoted, just the actual gear that I use.

Gear Inreach Mini 2
Garmin InReach Mini 2If you are out of cellphone range the Mini 2 will reliably allow you to hit SOS via satellite. You can also send non-emergency texts to just say that you're late, let friends and family follow along, and check the weather. You can see my review here.
Gear Topo Pursuit
Topo Pursuit 2The wide toe box means no blisters, an aggressive tread is great on the trail, it dries very quickly, and it has lots of cushion for long days. It combines everything I love about every other shoe into one.
Gear Epix Pro Up Ahead
Garmin Epix ProThese watches are pricey, but I use them 24/7 for sleep tracking, workouts, heart rate, and tracking my hike. It has preloaded hiking maps that help me navigate the trails and is a backup to my smartphone navigation. The Epix Pro has a great battery life, a screen similar to an Apple Watch Ultra, and works in harsh conditions when just using the buttons. See my review here.
Hikelite 26 Gear
Osprey Hikelite 26This updated version of the Hikelite 26 offers incredible value for the money. It's got a wide trampoline back, so your back doesn't get sweaty. It's under 2lbs, has deep side pockets, and is a great balance of what you need without what you don't.

Check out the complete list here. ( Updated June 2024)

Worth Noting

Joe Leconte
Joe Le Conte: he loved the outdoors so much that he died in Yosemite (true!).

Mount LeConte Trail Maps

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Some sections of trail have wire cables that you can hold onto.
Click Here To View

Use This Map:
View in CalTopo | PDF Map | GPX File

Mount LeConte Hike Directions

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Cross the bridge at the start of the hike.
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Head upstream, crossing several bridges along the way.
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At about 1.4 miles, you'll reach Arch Rock.

The arch came into being as the softer rock underneath the harder rock was worn away by the cycle of freezing and thawing.

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At about 2 miles you'll reach Inspiration Point.
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At about 2.3 miles you'll reach Alum Cave Bluffs.

Alum Cave Bluffs, named for the alum deposits found here in the 1800s, are a prominent geological formation characterized by a vast, overhanging cliff about 80 feet high and 500 feet wide.

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Continue past the bluffs on the other side.
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Now you have about 2 miles of climbing.
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At about 5 miles, make the right at the junction with the Rainbow Falls Trail.
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Shortly after that, make the right turn onto the trail to Cliff Top. The lodge is just past this turn on the left.
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At the top of the short stretch to Cliff Top, make the right.
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And look for the large exposed area and viewpoint. This is Cliff Top.
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Head back the way you came, but don't take the trail down. Instead go straight.
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Then emerge back onto the main trail, where you'll make the right.
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At the top of the hill look for the pile of rock on your right. This is the official summit.

For a better viewpoint, continue straight past the summit on the short downhill.

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At the split, stay right toward Myrtle Point.
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Enjoy Myrtle Point, then head back the way you came.

You can avoid the spur to Cliff Top and just go straight down.

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It's worth stopping at Leconte Lodge on the way back. There's drinking water and bathrooms.

Need More Info?

  • Have a question about the guide or want to see what other people are saying/asking? View the Youtube comments for this video. Leave a comment and I will do my best to respond.
  • When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.

This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard

Cris Hazzard 4 Mile Trail Yosemite
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!). You can stay up to date with my new guides by following me on YouTube, Instagram, or by subscribing to my monthly newsletter.