When it comes to mountains, underground caves and incredible hiking opportunities, Tennessee does it right. If you've never traveled in this great state, you need to ASAP. It seems like just when you thought you've seen it all, something else is discovered. This hike in the Great Smoky Mountains will take you down rocky stairs to an above-ground cave that will have pretty sweet views.
This trail to Alum Cave is located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the eastern part of the state. You might get winded hiking to this cave, but it will be worth it. Also, this is the easiest way to get to Mount Le Conte, the third-highest peak in the Smokies.
The hike to Alum Cave is only 4.4-miles round trip, but it is a very steep hike. There are rock steps that you'll have to climb but you'll eventually get to the "cave." It is more of a rock bluff so you won't need to worry about getting claustrophobic. The views are spectacular on the way to the cave and when you're there.
To get to Alum Cave, you'll go through a hardwood forest that will first lead you to Arch Rock. This is another great landmark on this trail and is a good spot to stop and snap a few pictures.
This is a narrow tunnel that you'll have to walk through that has stairs made out of rock that take you to the next part of the trail.
On the next part of your journey, you'll constantly have views of mountain tops and outcrops. This will give you something to look even though your thighs and calves might fall off at any point in time (JK).
You'll reach Alum Cave at around 2.3 miles from where the trailhead is. Now, this really isn't like a cave you're probably imagining. This is more of a rock bluff we mentioned, that is curved and the ground you'll be standing on is very slanted.
If you want to continue on to the third-highest peak of the Smokies, you'll have to hike about five more miles after hitting Alum Cave. It's the perfect opportunity if you (and your legs) are up for it.
Why You Need To Go: This trail will lead you through rock tunnels and eventually take you to the "cave." It is more of a rock bluff, but it gives some of the best views.