The only way to reach the lodge is to hike one of five trails ranging from 5-8 miles each way.
Back in October of 1999 we made our first trip up and down on the same day via the Alum Cave Trail. This trail is the shortest (10 mile round trip) but is rated the most strenuous.
We were pretty proud of ourselves and thought we really accomplished something!! Very tired and sore, we were glad we did it, but thought we would never do that again!!!:) We hurt so bad it was excruciating just to step off of a curb.
Well, it took about 3 years before I told my husband I think I would like to hike up there again. So in 2002 we made our 2nd trip up and down the same trail. On that trip we decided if we ever do the hike again why not stay at the lodge overnight. So we inquired how to get a reservation and that is how our love for this mountain started.
Since those initial first two hikes we have stayed on top in one of the cabins three times and have a reservation for next year. We have done all the trails except one which we will do next year.
Our inspiration for hiking this mountain came from a website I found about Ed Wright, a man who started hiking the Alum Cave Trail after he retired and went on to hike it over 1300 times. I always hoped to meet him but sadly he passed away a few years ago.
Last year we went up our favorite trail Alum Cave, and came down on the Boulevard Trail which is the longest at 8 miles. This one has been my least favorite so far probably because of it's length. It had a lot of ups and downs and just went on and on and on!!
Since we were combining two trails on this hike,we parked our car at Newfound Gap and a shuttle took us a few miles back down the road to the Alum Cave trailhead. Tomorrows hike down the Boulevard comes out at Newfound Gap.
In my opinion Alum Cave Trail has the most spectacular scenery of all the trails we have done, but in all fairness some of the trails we hiked were so fogged in I couldn't tell if I was missing a view or not.
It was pretty foggy on this trip so I didn't get too many pictures unfortunately.
Locals have nicknamed this the Dolly Parton Peaks:)
Shortly after the Bluffs we pass the halfway point now called Gracies Pulpit. At this location the trail levels out and actually descends about 80-100 feet to a saddle which is a relief from climbing but I know we have to make that all up again.
to help hikers get through these difficult sections. Yes, that's the trail. I honestly think the pictures look worse than it really is. Not that it's easy, but it's not as scary as it looks.
I DO USE THE CABLES!!
These steps were not here the first few times we hiked this trail and makes this section a little easier.There are places where the trail is so rocky and steep Ed Wright always called it Bust A_ Rocks!! He was right!
To be continued.