Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina, USA at Looking Glass Rock during autumn season in the morning.Lynn Camp Prong Cascades in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in peak October color4 hikers in Great Smoky Mountains National ParkWaterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National ParkHistoric pioneer cabin during fall foliage in the SmokiesSmoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA autumn landscape at Newfound Gap.Leaves changing colors in Great Smoky Mountains National ParkLittle River off of Tremont Rd. in Great Smoky Mountain National Park with fall colors on displayCades Cove during fall foliage in the SmokiesBlack bears in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Appalachian Fall Foliage Tour

Asheville, NC
5.0 (1 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Stunning Fall Colors
  • Appalachia's Most Magical Season
  • Iconic Waterfalls
  • Mountain Views
  • Pristine Creeks & Rivers
  • Fascinating History


Every autumn the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee go through a magical and breathtaking transformation. The diverse deciduous forests of the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains combust in a kaleidoscope of fantastic colors: vibrant reds, deep oranges, yellows, pinks and more. The trees that comprise this region’s amazing forests – sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweetgum, red maple, hickory and more – cover the mountains’ high peaks, ridges and valleys. When they begin their autumn transformation, they treat us to one of nature’s most stunning displays. As we hike, sightsee and learn about the area, we explore a mountain landscape abundant with pristine creeks, waterfalls, wildlife, big mountain views, history and more.

We’ll enjoy long days of hiking and sightseeing, wonderful meals at hand-picked restaurants, and cozy lodging at classic Appalachian hotels and lodges. Join us for an unforgettable experience in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the mountains around Asheville (Blue Ridge) for a fall foliage experience unlike any other!

Please Note: The Smokies’ fall foliage typically occurs between the last week of mid October and early November, but it is a natural process that varies year by year. We have done our very best to schedule the tour dates for the best chance to see the peak fall colors, but as with many things in nature there are no guarantees. Regardless of the stage of the fall foliage during your tour, it’s a stunningly beautiful area to hike and explore, and a magical season in which to be there. 

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From USD
$3155 Per Person
$425 Single Supplement  

$425 Single Supplement

The single supplement guarantees your own room. If you would like to forego the single supplement, you can request to be paired with a roommate of the same gender. If we are unsuccessful in pairing you with a roommate, the single supplement will apply.

Trip Type: Inn-Based Hiking Tour
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 2-9 Guests
Trip Length: 4 Days
Distance: 29MI / 47KM


Scale of 1-5. 1 is least difficult; 5 is most difficult

This trip travels along maintained trails. Day 1 will be the toughest along the Appalachian Trail then moves to “rails to trails” type of routes on day 2. There is moderate elevation gain that can be rocky. Light exposure on day 1 that can be avoided if needed. Day 3 and 4 will be along rougher trails that are in designated Wildernesses that do not see a lot of maintenance.

Hiking Distances:

6-8 miles

Backpack Weight:

8-12 pounds


Moderately Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

1650 feet

Heights Exposure:


Please Note: Terrain, Elevation Gain and Heights Exposure ratings reflect the section or day of the trip with the maximum difficulty of each. Much of the trip is at easier levels. See the trip itinerary for more detailed information.


  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 8-12 lb backpack for 5-7 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on moderately rugged terrain
* For an official and complete list of physical requirements, please see our Essential Eligibility Criteria.


1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this Great Smoky Mountains backpacking trip a solitude 2. You can expect as much as an hour of solitude at a time.


If a trip does not reach the minimum number of guests, you may choose to transfer to another trip date or another trip, be refunded your payments in full, or you may have the choice to pay a supplemental fee to run the trip with fewer guests. We make the final determination for these trips 4-6 weeks before the departure date, and notify guests of changes and options immediately.

Travel in perfect company by booking a private trip exclusively for your group!

Our sliding scale for private trips is based on the final number of guests in your group. Rates are per person and do not include sales tax, national park fees or guide gratuity. The final rate is based on the actual number of guests on the trip and may adjust based on cancellations or additions.

Please Note: you can also enjoy a private trip at our normal scheduled rates by filling any empty tour to capacity. However, if group members drop from the tour those spots will automatically become available on our website for instant booking. By purchasing a private trip at the rates listed below, your trip will remain exclusive to your group regardless of cancellations. 


  • 2 People: Rate x 2.5
  • 3 People: Rate x 2
  • 4 People: Rate x 1.5
  • 5+ People: Rate x 1.15

*all rates are per person and single supplements apply

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Day 1

  • Shuttle to the Smokies: 1.5-hour drive from Asheville
  • Hiking Mileage: 8.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1640 feet

This inn-based Appalachian hiking tour begins with a beautiful drive from Asheville, North Carolina into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where we’ll enjoy a short visit to the Mountain Farm Museum. This wonderful exhibit includes early settler buildings and historical information about the amazing lives of the tough Appalachian farmers who carved a living out of these mountains in the 19th century. Also on display are artifacts from and information about the Smokies’ oldest citizens: the Cherokee.

We will continue into the Park to our first hike, which is along the famous Appalachian Trail to a breathtaking viewpoint. Massive panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and the exploding colors of the forests, abound on today’s hike. We will enjoy a relaxing picnic lunch at today’s destination viewpoint, and then make our way back to the trailhead. After our invigorating hike we will shuttle to Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s highest peak at 6,643′, to take in more sweeping, fall foliage views. Eventually we’ll bring our first day of exploration to a close by continuing to our lodge on the “quiet side of the Smokies” in Townsend, TN. After checking in and cleaning up, we’ll head out for a wonderful Appalachian dinner.

Day 2

  • Shuttle to trailhead: 30 minutes
  • Hiking Mileage: 8.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1140 feet

This morning we begin with a delicious, hot Appalachian breakfast prepared by your guide at a beautiful picnic area at the edge of an open meadow area (weather depending). We encourage guests to walk around the meadow and enjoy the fall color explosion that surrounds us. After eating, we will explore the meadows, forests and historic buildings while watching out for classic Smokies wildlife such as black bear, elk, turkeys, deer and more. Often this morning is a high point of the tour thanks to the many historic buildings, stunning fall foliage scenery, and peaceful tranquility of this rich mountain valley.

Today’s scheduled hike is a forested trek up a pristine mountain creek to two waterfalls. The stunning river valley we explore is home to what many consider to be Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s most beautiful waterfall hike. Add in dramatic fall colors to the crystal clear creek, lush vegetation, diverse forests, and cascading waterfalls, and today’s walk is a truly special one. We will enjoy a picnic lunch near one of the falls, and eventually return to our lodge for a relaxing evening and wonderful dinner.

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 7 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1200 feet
  • Shuttle to Asheville: 2-hour drive to Asheville

The third day of our Appalachian fall foliage tour begins with breakfast at a charming, family owned restaurant. After eating we will enjoy a scenic drive to the first of two hikes of today. Our hikes focus on two of Appalachia’s most endearing themes: historic buildings and breathtaking waterfalls, both of which will be all the more beautiful than usual with the autumn colors popping.

Our first hike is to arguably the Great Smoky Mountains’ most unique waterfalls. Our trail actually goes behind the waterfall, setting the stage for amazing photography. We will return to our vehicle and continue along a historic loop road, making several stops at historic pioneer cabins and buildings as we go. Our picnic lunch is along the crystal clear waters of a prominent Smokies river, enroute to our second hike. The second hike leads us to two more spectacular waterfalls, for a total daily waterfall count of three!

After a final shuttle of the day, we’ll return to Asheville and check into our lodging for the night. We’ll have an hour or two to shower and relax before enjoying an evening stroll through the streets of downtown Asheville to tonight’s restaurant.

Day 4

  • Shuttle to trailhead: 1 hour
  • Hiking Mileage: appx 6.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1650 feet
  • Shuttle to Asheville: 1.5-hour drive

On the last day of our fall colors hiking adventure we’ll begin by summiting of one of the most iconic landmarks in this region of Appalachia, Looking Glass Rock. This is arguably the most spectacular hike in the Pisgah National Forest. After ascending through deep deciduous forests ripe with fall colors, our efforts will be doubly rewarded by views of the surrounding mountains landscapes, and another delicious picnic lunch.

After soaking up the views, we’ll hike back down to our vehicle and continue on to the spectacular waterfall, Looking Glass Falls. Our drive back to Asheville will follow a different section of the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, providing us with more views and photography opportunities. One of the views is of Looking Glass Rock, the mountain we summited just hours earlier! Our tour ends back in Asheville with fond farewells and a melancholy goodbye to the stunning and fleeting tidal wave of colors that sweeps through these mountains every fall. However, not all is lost, as there’s always next year!

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes. Normal terms and conditions apply to trips with itinerary changes.

Trip Dates & Booking


Click on a date to register. You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.

Available to Book


This trip is available and bookable online! Click on the date to register now or contact us online to book through our award-winning customer service team!

Going Fast


This trip has 1 or 2 spots remaining and is bookable online! Click on the date to book now or contact us online to book through customer service.

Request a Reservation


This trip is exclusively booked through customer service due to logistics with lodging, permits, staffing, availability, or something else. Please contact us online or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to request a reservation.

Don't see your dates? Call us! We may be able to add new trip dates.

800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Details

Trip Details

What's Included

  • 3 nights of double-occupancy lodging at local, hand-picked, Appalachian inns, hotels and/or cabin (single occupancy requires an additional single supplement)
  • Dinners at local restaurants selected for their local color and great food
  • Breakfasts, picnic lunches prepared by your guide, and trail snacks
  • Use of a day pack and trekking poles
  • Trained hiking guide(s) with years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. See Guide Bios.
  • Transportation for the duration of the tour originating and concluding in Asheville, NC
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and communication device (InReach Explorer or satellite phone)
  • Mandatory 5% national park fee that passes through directly to Great Smoky Mountains NP

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear (see recommendations)
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about what to pack.

Meals: What to Expect

This tour features a combination of restaurant meals and meals prepared by your guide. We provide breakfasts and lunches for the trip. For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables. In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:

  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Leki trekking poles
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Emergency communication device(s)

Guest Packing List

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with a detailed packing list specific to this trip (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, a recommended clothing system, a headlamp or flashlight, a hydration system (water bottles and/or bladder) and other items specific to each trip.

Additionally, some guests choose to bring their own sleeping bag. We supply high quality, synthetic fill bags that are professionally laundered after every trip. Synthetic fill is non-allergenic, insulates when damp and stands up well to repeated washings, but is heavier and bulkier than down. If you’re able to bring your own down sleeping bag, there are multiple benefits. If not, we’ve got you covered!

Trip Logistics

Trip Logistics

How Do I Register?

Reserve your spot today! In the Trip Dates & Booking section of this page, the green and red dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you’re ready to register we’ll email you a link to a registration profile. You’ll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit.

Feel free to call us for more info – we’re here 7 days a week!

Where Do We Meet?

You will meet your guide and group at the Holiday Inn in downtown Asheville (standard rooms are $99-$140 for our guests, 828-225-5550) for an orientation meeting at 5:00 PM the evening before the trip begins. We’re happy to give you a ride to this meeting if you’re not staying at the Holiday Inn. Your guide will then pick you up the next morning for transport to the trailhead. For Private Great Smoky Mountains Tours your guide can meet you at any hotel in Asheville at an agreed upon time.

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about flights, shuttles, recommended lodging and more.

Travel to Asheville, NC

All North Carolina trips begin and end from Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville has an airport served by Allegiant Air, Delta, United, and US Airways. One can also fly into Greenville, South Carolina or Charlotte, North Carolina and drive to Asheville. It is a 1.5-hour drive from Greenville to Asheville and a 2-hour drive from Charlotte on good roads.

Asheville Airport Express (http://www.ashevilleairportexpress.com, 828-231-1053) and Harry’s Car Service run (828-774-8178) shuttles to and from downtown. Also a number of taxis are usually available on the curb in the Arrivals area.

Asheville Airport Express also runs daily vans from Charlotte and Greenville to Asheville.

Avis: 800-331-1212; Hertz 800-654- 3131; National: 800-227-7368; Thrifty: 800-367-2277; Alamo: 800-327-9633

Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the first day’s pick-up time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 6 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off at your hotel on the final day normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time).

Safety Precautions

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT’s, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. Guides adhere to standardized risk management protocols in case of any potential or actual incident, and all tours carry an emergency communication device and comprehensive first-aid kit. Additionally we have a “24/7” system through which guides or guests can reach Wildland support personnel at any time.

If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.

Essential Eligibility Criteria

Essential Eligibility Criteria (“EEC”) have been specifically identified to help you understand the skills and abilities necessary to participate on each Wildland trip, and they apply uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability.

Once you identify a trip in which you may be interested, please carefully review the EEC and itinerary details. If after reviewing the EEC that apply to your desired trip, you determine you need an accommodation in order to meet the EEC, please contact us prior to registering to discuss your requested accommodation.

The EEC exist for your own safety and the safety and enjoyment of all participants. If you are unable to meet the EEC for the trip, with or without an accommodation, you are not eligible for that trip. If you register and arrive for a trip for which you do not meet the EEC, you will be disqualified from participation on the trip and will be dismissed or evacuated from the trip without a refund.

Guide Working Parameters

Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time…etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides’ off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.

Age Restrictions

Age restrictions on this trip are as follows:

  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis

Weather in the Smoky & Blue Ridge Mountains

The weather in the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains varies greatly by time of year. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). Read below for average high and low temperatures in for low elevations in the Great Smoky Mountains:

Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
Month Low Elev High Elev
hi low hi low
January 51° 28° 35° 19°
February 54° 29° 35° 18°
March 61° 34° 39° 24°
April 71° 42° 49° 34°
May 79° 50° 57° 43°
June 86° 58° 63° 49°
July 88° 59° 65° 53°
August 87° 60° 64° 52°
September 83° 55° 60° 47°
October 73° 43° 53° 38°
November 61° 33° 42° 28°
December 52° 28° 37° 21°



Dancing Bear Cabins


This unique and inviting Appalachian lodge and cabins offers relaxation and natural beauty with wonderful accommodations and 38 forested acres on the Peaceful Side of the Smokies!



The DoubleTree by Hilton Asheville Downtown is arguably the signature hotel in Asheville. With stunning views of the surrounding mountains and situated in perfect walking distance to many iconic Appalachian restaurants, it’s a perfect location for our Blue Ridge adventure.
(pool, views)

* These exact accommodations are not guaranteed. In some instances alternative accommodations of similar quality and location may be used.

Trip Reviews

Trip Reviews

  • Average Customer Ratings:

  • 5.0 (1 reviews)
Dawn S

Couldn't have asked for a better trip

2 years ago

I couldn't have asked for a better trip than I did with Wildland. The guide was accommodating to all levels of ability and knowledge of hiking/trails. The group was small which allowed you to get to know the other members of the group in a relaxed situation. The food selections were accommodating to all needs ( i.e. vegetarian). Lodging was a nice retreat of being on your feet most of the day. The best part was disconnecting from the electronic world and exploring what mother nature has to offer.

See All Guest Reviews!

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