Treadmill Trail No. 3: Alum Cave Bluffs


Alum Cave is technically a rock shelter rather than an actual cave, but it’s a cool place to hang out after a scenic 2.2 mile hike in the Great Smoky Mountains.

I was feeling extremely pleased with myself for having plotted three treadmill trails that replicate the vertical climb of our favorite hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but Dad wasn’t impressed.

Hopping on the treadmill Tuesday night for the first time since he and Mom  got back from Florida, he was expecting to push a couple of buttons and summon forth the Chimney Tops Trail workout.

“We haven’t figured out how to do that yet,” I explained. (And when I say “we,” I’m actually referring to Ben. There’s no way I’m going to figure out how to program a treadmill — or any other gadget, for that matter.)

For now, these workouts exist only on a yellow legal pad — and as of today, under the tab marked “treadmill trails” at the top of the blog. Yes, you’ve got to be troubled to pay attention to your mileage and adjust the incline manually as you go.

The up side: All that “channel changing” reduces the prospect of boredom and creates the illusion that you’re sculpting the mountain as you go. The down side: It’s harder to just zone out and listen to music or watch a ball game.

At 2.2 miles, Alum Cave Bluffs is just a bit longer than Chimney Tops, but it’s 200 feet less of a climb. This workout, like the trail itself, is a much more gradual climb in the beginning, with a short 15% burst representing the stair-step climb through Arch Rock.

Other than that, the grade doesn’t hit double digits again until nearly a mile in, and never does quite get back to maximum incline, topping out at 14% for little more than half a mile before easing off over the last quarter mile or so.

I did this one fairly slowly, wanting to make sure I get the numbers right, so my time to beat on this is 44:00 at a straight 3.0 mph pace.

Alum Cave Bluffs:

0-.3 mile 2% incline

.3-.5 mile 5% incline

.5-.6   15% — to represent the climb through Arch Rock

.6-.7 — 8%

.7-.8 — 9%

.8-.9 — 10%

.9-1.0 mile — 12%

1.0-1.3 mile — 13%

1.3-1.9 mile — 14%

1.9-2.0 mile — 10%

2.0-2.073 — 9%

2.073-2.1 mile — 5%

2.1-2.161 mile — 2%

2.161-2.2 mile — 0%

Total climb 1,120 feet.

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2 Responses to Treadmill Trail No. 3: Alum Cave Bluffs

  1. Sammi says:

    I would like to try these for variety, but my treadmill only goes to 10 & the new ones at the gym do a 12. I hope to get back to the smokies when the trails are open, we went to early in the year last time.

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