Alum Cave Bluff Trail

  • Highlights: Views, cave, rock arch, streams, wildflowers
  • Distance: 4.7 miles out and back
  • Elevation Change 1,168 feet
  • Trail Surface: Dirt with numerous rocky sections
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate/Strenuous
  • Trailhead Parking: Alum Cave Bluff trailhead parking, Newfound Gap Road, US 441; two large parking areas fill up quickly so arrive early if possible. Parking fee required.
  • Trail Markings: No blazes trail is well travelled and obvious, signs at junctions
  • Website: AllTrails and Great Smoky Mountain National Park
  • Beer Pairings: Gatlinburg Brewing Co.—Breakfast Juice IPA & Don’t Feed the Bears Brown Ale

Trail Map:

The Hike:

We arrived before 8am on a Tuesday in mid-May and parking was filling up quickly. GSMNP charges a $5 per day parking fee. This parking area doesn’t sell parking permits, we purchased one at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. This is a popular hike and parking areas fill up quickly.

The trail passes through an old-growth hardwood forest and rhododendron thickets. Alum Cave Creek runs beside the trail for the first 1.5 miles. Several wood bridges make for easy stream crossings. The climb is rocky much of the way and there are several steep sections with wood and stone steps.

The trail follows a narrow channel through Arch Rock—one of the coolest geologic formations in the park. The trail become steep as it reaches Inspiration Point, a rocky outcrop with great views to the south and west. The climb continues on wood and stone steps to Peregrine Peak and Alum Cave. While not really a cave, its still fun to explore and there are more great views. The summit of Mount Leconte is another 2.7 steep and rocky miles ahead. Enjoy the cave and then backtrack to the crowded parking area and your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Beer Pairing:

Gatlinburg Brewing Co. is less than 30 minutes from the trailhead. Located on a busy corner in the heart of busy downtown Gatlinburg, they have 12 taps of craft beer, really good pizza, and a friendly staff. Kathy loves hazy IPAs and Breakfast Juice IPA (5.4% ABV • 34 IBU) has a nice balance between hops and tropical fruit. Don’t Feed the Bears (6.7% ABV • 22 IBU) is an English-style brown ale with notes of toffee and caramel. Both beers go great with pizza.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.