Arch Rock in the Great Smoky Mountains

A Natural Arch

Arch Rock is found along the Alum Cave Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. And we almost missed it! Sort of.

Arch Rock is found along the Alum Cave Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

As we were walking along the trail during our Great Smoky Mountains trip, we came to a steep part where steps led up through the rock wall. We thought it was pretty interesting, and then we kept going.

Although I started it a little late, I had been watching the mileage using my Garmin watch. After a while, we started wondering when we might get to what we saw listed as “Arch Rock” on the trail sign. Based on our distance, we were past where I thought it should be. About that time we realized that the steps leading up under the arched rock were the Arch Rock listed on the sign. Oops. I guess we should have paid a little more attention to what we were looking for!

Going up into Arch Rock in the Great Smoky Mountains

In the photo above are Karen leading the way, followed by Laura and Brant. You can’t see much of Laura because she is directly in front of Brant, but she is there.

Going On Up!

A dark view of Arch Rock in the Great Smoky Mountains

Fortunately, I had taken the first photo above, as well as this somewhat dark photo, just because I thought the arched rock with the stairs going under it looked cool. I did not know at the time that there was a name that went along with that feature.

Those are Brant’s and Laura’s legs going up the steps in this photo. And I liked the dark silhouette look here, with the light hitting the moss-covered wall.

Going Down!

Looking down through Arch Rock in the Great Smoky Mountains

Alum Cave Trail is a one-way trail, which meant that once we went as far as we would go, we had to turn around and go back the way that we came. On our return trip, we were ready for Arch Rock, and we paid a little more attention to it as we went back down.

This photo above was from looking down into the arch before we made our way back through it. You might be able to see a wire strung along the right rock face, which serves as a handrail. Here’s a tip: use it! The rock steps are pretty steep, to begin with. And when we were there, everything was damp, making those steep steps slippery. I was glad to have that wire to hold onto.

Another View

Arch Rock in the Great Smoky Mountains

After we went back through Arch Rock on our way down, I took the time to try to take a “good” photo or two. The top photo in this post is one attempt, and this photo above is another. I liked this view of the bridge leading over the stream and up under the arch.

By this time, the trail was rather popular, as it was the middle of the day. So I had to wait around a little to get a photo without people in it. Or at least without many people. You can still see one fellow here as he goes up through the arch. But I do like that having a person there helps to give a sense of scale to the photo.

While I was waiting to take that previous photo, I took one in the opposite direction…

Laura by a stream in the Great Smoky Mountains

Laura had gone a little further down the trail and had stepped out onto a rock, also to take a photo of Arch Rock. You can also see a few people farther on down the trail, too. What you can’t see are Brant and Karen, who were just off to the right of this photo, waiting patiently while we got the photos that we wanted. It is nice to have friends, especially when they are patient with you and your camera habits!

Bible Verse

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. - Colossians 3:15

About the Photos

These photos were a little difficult to process because of all of the dark and light areas. By running the Raw files through Luminar AI, I was able to even them out a good bit. I was also able to tone down the greens just a bit. Although I love the green leaves and grass of summer, sometimes the green color can overwhelm a photo. I fiddled with the color sliders a bit to get the look I wanted.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Photo: Each photo is a single Raw exposure, processed in Luminar AI. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Sony Alpha A7 II
_Lens: _ Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens
Date: July 19, 2021
Location: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee


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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.