Length: 5 miles roundtrip (to
Alum Cave Bluffs)
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
Trail Difficulty: Moderate/
Highest Elevation: 4,955 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 1,125 feet
structures, rhododendron, mountain laurel, old growth forest, scenic overlook
Alum Cave trail has some historic interests behind it dating back to 1838 when
the Epsom Salt Manufacturing Company was established at Alum Cave. There the
company mined Epsom salt that was used by mountain men and women to dye their clothing
a reddish brown. In addition to Epsom salt, other minerals such as copperas,
magnesia and saltpeter were mined out of the rock shelter. By the middle of the
1840’s most of the accessible minerals had been depleted, however mining still
took place during the Civil War. The Confederate Army took advantage of what
saltpeter was left while the Civil War was going on and used the mineral for
Hiking Alum Cave Trail:
the first half of Alum Cave trail, hikers will have a modest climb up to Arch Rock (the
first noted landmark of the trail) where hikers will enjoy a forest of hemlock
and yellow birch. From there, follow Alum Cave Creek for a solid mile. Right
before reaching Arch Rock though the trail will start to break into Styx Branch
that is engulfed by rhododendron, which is in full bloom during early summer. After
another half mile you will reach Arch Rock, which was formed by freezing and
thawing that eroded the softer rock underneath the hard rock. The Alum Cave trail goes
underneath Arch Rock with a series of steps etched into stone before coming out
on top of the arch.
second half of the Alum Cave trail hikers will reach Inspiration Point (the second
notable landmark of the trail), which is 2 miles up from the trailhead. Here
hikers will have a stellar view of Little Duck Hawk Ridge off to the west and
Myrtle Point in the northeast. If hikers continue on the trail they will reach
Alum Cave, which is a concaved bluff that runs about 80 feet in height and 500
feet in length.
hikers turn around here, however the trail continues heading up to the summit
of Mount LeConte from Alum Cave. This will take an additional 5.5 mile hike
with an added climb of 2,763 feet to reach the top. If hikers are up to it, the
panoramic views will not disappoint.
Directions to Alum Cave Trail:
- Starting at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, drive 8.6 miles south on
Newfound Gap Road to the Alum Cave Trailhead.
- The parking lot will be located on the left.