High Peaks and Old Growth Forests of the Smokies

Asheville, NC
5.0 (10 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Fulfilling Adventure
  • Old Growth Forests
  • Sweeping Views
  • Mountain Solitude
  • Stunning Waterfall
  • Amazing Natural & Cultural History

Description

This Smoky Mountains backpacking trip combines solitary trails, old growth forests, and some of the most beautiful views in the Smokies in a short, action-packed hike! This trip is an excellent choice for people who’d like to see first hand why this park is the country’s most ecologically diverse – and most visited – national park.

We’ll begin along the lower reaches of Gabe’s Mountain, passing Hen Wallow Falls on our way through virgin woodlands to our first night’s camp at Sugar Cove. The next morning we’ll head up the Maddron Bald Trail to the Albright Grove Loop, where we’ll appreciate a collection of the park’s largest and most magnificent trees. We’ll camp along a mountain creek and climb to the top of Maddron Bald for out-of-this-world views. A day hike with light packs on the famous Appalachian Trail on day 3 is the highlight of the trip for many guests. Our final day brings us down to our starting point ending our Great Smoky Mountains backcountry adventure.

Read more …
From
$1210 Per Person
Return Guests get a 10% discount on all Trips!
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 4-8 Guests
Trip Length: 4 Days
Distance: 27+MI / 43+KM

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 3

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

SUMMARY OF DIFFICULTY
This trip travels along maintained trails that gain elevation the first 3 days. The last day has a descent that is moderate. Having a base camp on day 2 and 3 makes the third day an easier hiking day.

Hiking Distances:

5-10 mi

Backpack Weight:

25-35 lbs

Terrain:

Moderately Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

2000 ft

Heights Exposure:

None

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. Backpack Weight ratings are estimates that account for Wildland-provided gear, guest clothing, personal items and a share of group food. By packing light it’s often possible to stay on the lower end of the weight range. Pack weights also decrease during the trip.

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS

  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 25-35 lb backpack for 6-8 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on moderately rugged terrain

SOLITUDE LEVEL 2

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.

TRAVEL TO ASHEVILLE

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.

FROM ASHEVILLE AIRPORT
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.

FROM GREENVILLE/CHARLOTTE
Asheville Airport Express also runs daily vans from Charlotte and Greenville to Asheville.

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

Private Trips

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. 

Private Rates FOr This Trip

  • 2 People: Rate x 2.5
  • 3 People: Rate x 1.75
  • 4 People: Rate x 1.25
  • 5+ People: Rate x 1.15

*all rates are per person

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Itinerary

Itinerary

Day 1

  • Shuttle to the trailhead: 1.5-hour drive from Asheville
  • Hiking Mileage: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1060 feet

On this multi-day Great Smoky Mountains backpacking trip we start hiking at a remote ranger station and work our way up a beautiful mountain trail. 2.1 miles into our hike we hit the spur trail for Hen Wallow Falls. This spectacular waterfall drops 90 feet and is one of the most impressive water features in the Park. After enjoying the falls, we’ll continue uphill, past hardwood old growth forest with truly massive trees. Eventually we’ll reach our campsite, a highly sought after site in a stunning forest setting. After getting settled we’ll explore the mountain creek near camp, relax over a hearty dinner, and turn in for the night.

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 6.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1320 feet

Day 2 starts with a delicious Appalachian breakfast, after which we’ll continue hiking past more old growth forest and negotiate several creek crossings. Our trail, due to the extraordinary work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, is one of the best trails Great Smoky Mountains National Park has to offer. After 1.7 miles on this spectacular trail, we’ll come to one of the Park’s most impressive old growth forests. We’ll enjoy lunch in this forest under Carolina Silverbells, Hemlock, Beech, and Tulip trees spared from the logger’s axe a century ago. This grove of giant trees is considered one of the best East of the Mississippi. After lunch we’ll continue on to our second night’s camp on the edge of a mountain creek. After setting up camp we’ll hike to the top of Maddron Bald for an outstanding view of the Appalachians.

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 9.5 miles
  • Elevation Loss/Gain: 2061 feet

Today is a layover day set aside to celebrate this amazing landscape with a day hike you’ll never forget! After another tasty breakfast we’ll set out to traverse a ridgeline section of the Appalachian Trail beneath the towering Mount Guyot to Tricorner Knob. This section features absolutely awe-inspiring views of the forested folds and high peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains. Don’t forget your camera today – you’ll want it!

After returning to camp, we’ll enjoy a final backcountry dinner and relaxing evening before turning in for a peaceful sleep.

Day 4

  • Hiking Mileage: 6.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 940 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 3040 feet
  • Shuttle to Asheville: 1.5-hour drive to Asheville

Our final morning we’ll break camp and hike up the Maddron Bald Trail to another rugged, adventurous trail. As we descend this trail we’ll soak up amazing views of the crest of the Smokies while passing through beautiful Spruce and Fir forests. We eventually pass through Hemlock groves in the lower altitudes and end up at our staring point. From here we enjoy a scenic drive back to Asheville, giving us time to contemplate the amazing four days we’ve just experienced.

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

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

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

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

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

  • Top-of-the-line tent, backcountry sleeping pad and multi-day backpack
  • High quality, synthetic sleeping bag (professionally laundered after every use) – or bring your own.
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • 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.
  • Roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Asheville, North Carolina to the trailhead and back
  • Entrance fees and national park permits
  • 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
  • A Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and dependents to a discount of 10% off any Wildland hiking trip after your first one (must book directly with us to receive the discount)!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear (see recommendations)
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • 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

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). 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
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware synthetic-fill sleeping bags (or bring your own)
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • 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.

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 5 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.

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 Great Smoky Monutains

The weather in the Great Smoky 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°

Accommodations

Accommodations

Backcountry Sleeping

Tent camping

Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and synthetic-fill sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.

Backcountry Cuisine

FRESH & DELICIOUS

Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.

Amazing Campsites

IN THE ACTION

Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.

Trip Reviews

Trip Reviews

  • Average Customer Ratings:

  • 5.0 (10 reviews)
Susannah W
5.0

Fabulous way to reset.

2 months ago

Backpacking in the Smokies was a fabulous way to reset. I took this trip with my 16 year old son. We had a great time in nature, exploring the forest, mushrooms, salamanders and learning about hiking the Appalachian Trail. I found it blissful to be disconnected. Our guide, Francisco, was very well organized, knowledgeable and charming.

Brent G
5.0

TON of fun

3 months ago

I am brand new to backpacking and this trip provided the perfect introduction to what I believe will be a lifetime hobby for me. I now have a much better understanding of the gear needed, what to pack (and what not to), how to prepare food in the bank country, how to set up camp, etc. Beyond the learning, this trip was a TON of fun. I could not have hoped for a better guide than Francisco. Beyond his tremendous experience and knowledge, his energy and sense of humor made the trip so much more enjoyable. Lastly, the most surprising positive of the trip was the food! I was expecting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and trail mix but was pleasantly surprised that we got to enjoy some really great meals that rival anything I can make in my kitchen at home!

Margaret L
5.0

Great Time

4 months ago

This was my second Wildland Trekking trip in the Smokies. As with my first trip, I had a great time. The guide Francisco was fantastic. I appreciate how the company makes backpacking trips manageable for folks without all the gear and knowhow. All I had to do was following the training suggestions and show up!

See All Guest Reviews!

Go to our reviews page

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