The Alum Cave Bluffs Trail in the Smoky Mountains is a spectacular hike that provides a wide range of experiences in a 4.4-mile round trip hike. The trailhead is located about 8 miles outside of the Sugarland Visitor Center and the hike offers beautiful views of old growth forest, scenic look out points, a cave and a bluff that provides spectacular views of the mountains.
As you make your way to the trailhead, you will find a small parking lot as well as plenty of parking on the side of the road. There is a restroom available at the beginning of the trailhead.
Tip: if you do need to park on the side of the road, you will need to make sure that all four tires are off the road, as this is a rule throughout the park.
Hiking Alum Cave Bluff Trail
As you being your hike, you will walk along the river bank on a wide dirt pathway. This is an easy stretch of the hike and you are encouraged to take you time and periodically stop and enjoy the flowing water and natural beauty. The ground growth is spectacular in this area of the park, giving hikers a different perspective of the park.
Around 1.25 miles into your hike, you will come to a great landmark that seems to appear out of no where. The Arch Rock formation provides the hikers a unique experience, as the path goes straight through the arch. The park services have built stairways to make the journey and the experience a little easier for hikers.
As you make your way past the arch, the terrain is still smooth and easy to navigate but the elevation begins to get steeper and a little strenuous at some points.
About halfway between the arch an the bluff, there is a great stopping point known as inspiration point. It is the perfect place to stop, rest for a moment and enjoy the views of Myrtle Point, Eye of the Needle and the scenery at Smoky Mountains National Park before you make the final stretch to the bluff.
About 2 miles into your hike, you will find a series of stairs leading to Alum Cave Bluff. The stairs can be a little strenuous, but the effort is worth it once you arrive at the concave bluff. The natural formation is roughly 80 feet high. During our hike, melting icicles periodically feel from the top of the mountains. During the warmer months of the year, instead of falling icicles, you may experience falling water.
Alum Cave Bluff is simply a great and unique experience for all visitors to the Smoky Mountains. The overall sights from along the river bank, up through the arch and into the bluff will provide all visitors a spectacular experience.
Alum Cave Bluffs Trail Quick Guide
Total Distance: 4.4 miles out and back
Elevation Change: 1,125 Feet Gain, with an average of 510 feet gain per mile
Difficulty Rating: 6.65, which is considered a moderate hike
Restrooms Available: Restrooms are not available at the trailhead
Directions & Parking: Trailhead is located just off Newfound Gap Road (about 8 miles from Sugarland Visitor center), you will find a small parking lot as well as plenty of parking on the side of the road. Note: if you do need to park on the side of the road, you will need to make sure that all four tires are off the road, as this is a rule throughout the park.
Interested in finding more fantastic hiking opportunities within the Great Smoky Mountains, check out our picks for the best Smoky Mountains Hiking Trails.