Great Smoky Mountains Natl. Park — From peaks to valleys, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has trails, vistas and drives for outdoor adventurers of any skill level.
The higher elevations hold sweeping views of the mountains and are popular spots for finding fall foliage around October.
One notable route is Alum Cave Trail off Newfound Gap Road.
The hike to Alum Cave Bluffs is rated as moderately difficult at about 4.5 miles roundtrip on a well-marked trail with roughly 1,200 feet of elevation gain.
Just over a mile into the hike, you'll pass through Arch Rock. Then at roughly 2 miles, you will reach Inspiration Point. Less than half a mile beyond Inspiration Point is Alum Cave Bluffs.
Many people turn around at the Bluffs, but the trail continues for another 2.5 miles to Mount LeConte.
Keep in mind, this is a popular area so it's recommended to get there early, be patient and have a backup plan.
What to expect on the trail:
Some tips before you visit:
- Let someone know where you plan to hike, when you plan to be back, what clothes you are wearing and what your car looks like.
- Wear sunscreen and bug spray.
- Wear layers. The higher elevations can be 10-15 degrees colder than the rest of the park.
- Pack plenty of water and snacks.
- Take a light source with you (preferably not your phone). The park said the number one reason people have to get rescued in the park is not bringing a light.
- Keep an eye on the weather.
- Pets are not allowed on the trail.
- Be courteous to other park visitors.
- Leave the plants and wildlife alone.
- Have a backup plan if the trail is closed or too busy.
- Check on road closures at twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps.