It was sunny that morning until we approached the Alum Cave Bluff trail head where it was gently raining. Tim, my son and I looked at each other and decided to head up the trail anyway; we could always turn around if necessary (Bluff #1). It was the right decision and paid off with a challenging hike up, almost no views and only a few other hikers. Virtually all the trail descriptions rate this trail as strenuous or moderately strenuous but neither of us felt more than an occasional need to stop and rest along the 2.3 miles up to the "cave area"(Bluff #2). There are several interesting scenes along the way including Arch Rock which has a twisty, wet set of steps passing through it of which I did not warn Tim (Bluff #3). I enjoyed the little element of danger they provided.
While Inspiration Rock didn't show off the full views found in nice weather we could see the possibilities as well as stop long enough on our way back to encourage hikers about the cave being not tooooo far away (Bluff #4). Alum Cave itself was very interesting with it's substantial rocky overhang and huge sandy slope. Who would think we would find ourselves slip-sliding on the sandy hillside (Bluff #5)?
We felt so energetic at the Cave that we briefly considered hiking all the way to Mount LeConte (2.7 more miles) but our snacks were running low. If we had known how well we would do that day and brought a lunch along I definitely would have tried for it (Bluff #6). All in all, a great Smoky Mountains hike and worthy of your time should you ever get there yourself!
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