Arch Rock We were super fortunate that on our last day within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park boundaries one of the best trails to day hike was open! It had been closed Mon - Thursday for nearly two years while the trail has been renovated and improved and our last day in the park happened to be a Friday. So we, (along with everyone else wanting to take advantage of the open trail) got up early, snagged a parking spot and headed up the Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte which I believe is the 3rd highest point in the park.
Alum Cave What was so impressive about this hike was everything that it had to offer over the course of it's nearly six miles to the top: fresh water stream, a natural arch in the rock, the Alum Cave bluffs, VIEWS (which we realized after our 3 days backpacking are limited with all the tree cover) and for those interested, lodging at the top.
The first mile or so followed Alum Cave Creek and then Styx Branch to Arch Rock. The leaves were golden yellow that day and it was incredibly scenic. From the arch the trail started climbing up and diverged from the stream. About another mile further down the road we were granted our first views from Inspiration Point. It was really quite pretty. Then not much further up the trail we reached Alum Cave - a concave bluff. We stopped here briefly before continuing up the trail to Mount LeConte.
Views from Myrtle Point From Inspiration Point there wasn't anything in particular that stood out to us beyond more of the beautiful foliage we had been loving all week long. When we arrived at the Mount LeConte Lodge, we kept going out to Myrtle Point, a beautiful vantage point that offers nearly 360 degree views of the Smokies and beyond. We claimed a piece of rock, soaked in the views and enjoyed our lunch before returning back to the lodge and then down the trail to our car.
Alum Cave Trail
The hike to Mount LeConte is definitely one to put on your short list if ever in the Smokies. Hopefully you'll be there when the trail is open seven days a week so it won't be so crowded. That said, we're still really glad we did it. We loved our week in the Smokies and the hike that day was a nice way to wrap up our time in the park as well as our vacation. The following morning we returned home.
Pictures from this beautiful day are here.