Winter Creeks and Peaks

Asheville, NC
4.9 (7 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Winter Itinerary
  • Appalachian Trail
  • Beautiful Waterfalls
  • Sweeping Views
  • Mountain Solitude
  • Scenic Camps
  • Wildlife Viewing Opportunities

Description

On our Winter Creeks and Peaks Smokies backpacking trip we combine the best of two worlds – big Smoky Mountain views and beautiful creekside hiking – in the year’s most peaceful season. The historically rich route we follow was used originally by early Native Americans, then settlers, loggers, and livestock herders after them. We’ll retrace their collective footsteps on a rejuvenating and adventurous Appalachian adventure.

We begin our trip hiking up a majestic mountain creek, whose cascades and scenery are some of the best in the Park. We’ll continue on for the next three days past fascinating historical sites, along a variety of charming streams and rivers, past two spectacular waterfalls, up to a historic fire-tower (2 towers on a 4 day itinerary) with awe-inspiring views and finally back to our starting point.

Read more …
3 Days
$820 Per Person
4 Days
$1085 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: 3-4 Days
Distance: 21+MI / 34+KM

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 4

Our difficulty ratings are based on a scale of 1-5, tours with a rating of 1 being least difficult, tours with a rating of 5 being most difficult

Backpack Weight:
24-40 pounds
Daily Hiking Distances:
5-11 miles
Most Elevation Loss:
2820 feet (4-day itinerary)
Most Elevation Gain:
2820 feet (4-day itinerary)
Quality of Trails:
Well maintained
Additional:
This trip requires significant elevation gains and losses as well as long distances (11 miles on the 4-day trip) that make the 4-day itinerary a Level 4, moderately strenuous trip. The 3-day trip is a Level 3 and is quite a bit more moderate without the big day hike on the third day.

Participants should:

  1. be active and healthy
  2. exercise several times per week
  3. be comfortable hiking, biking, running, or swimming for several hours without many break

SOLITUDE LEVEL 4

1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this Great Smoky Mountains backpacking trip a solitude 4. You can expect to see a couple of other groups of hikers per day.

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

TAXES AND FEES

North Carolina does not charge sales tax on services, so there is no sales tax for this trip.

All trips in Great Smoky Mountains National Park have a 5% fee required by the National Park Service. This fee is applied when your reservation is made and is passed through directly to the national park.

There are no other taxes or fees associated with this trip. Feel free to give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) with any questions!

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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Trip Itinerary

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

  • Shuttle to the trailhead: 1-hour drive from Asheville
  • Hiking Mileage: 5.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1250 feet

On this multi-day Great Smoky Mountains backpacking trip we depart the Big Creek Campground and soon start to enjoy creek views and cascades. First we come to the “Midnight Hole” deep pool and Mouse Creek Falls, two classic Smoky Mountain water features. After these falls, our journey grows quieter, with wonderful solitude, as we pass historic logging sites on our way to our first night’s base camp at Lower Walnut Bottoms. We’ll set up camp, enjoy a hearty backcountry feast, take a short night hike and turn in for a peaceful night of sleep with the soft murmuring of the creek as our backdrop.

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 10.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1970 feet

This day starts with a delicious hearty Appalachian breakfast prepared by your guide. Then we’ll head off from camp with just daypacks up the Low Gap Trail. This old historic path brings us by old agriculture sites and the Dan Gunter homesite on our way to the famed Appalachian Trail. Here we will turn North on this legendary trail to what most consider the best views in the park, the Mt. Cammerer Fire Tower. This tower, the only rock one of it’s kind in the park, was built by local laborers and the CCC in the 1930’s. After lunch in this magical spot we will head back to our base camp at Lower Walnut Bottoms for another quiet night in this warmer low elevation campsite.

Day 3 (4-Day Itinerary Only)

  • Hiking Mileage: 11.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 2820 feet

Today features the signature hike for this trip, and one you’ll long remember. Our hike heads uphill and has multiple creek crossings as we gain elevation. We’ll tackle the steepest section of the trail, which connects us with a timbered ridgeline. We then follow the ridge up and out of the trees to the amazing summit of Mount Sterling, and its soaring fire tower. Soaking up some of the best views of Appalachia anywhere, we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch before heading back to camp and a much deserved, final delicious dinner.

Final Day

  • Hiking Mileage: 5.3 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 1250 feet
  • Shuttle to Asheville: 1-hour drive

The last day of our Smoky Mountains adventure starts with a final nutritious breakfast prepared by your guide. Afterwards we will hike down the Big Creek Trail to our shuttle. A short drive will bring us back to our starting point in Asheville, NC and end our Appalachian winter hiking experience.

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.

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
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Great Smoky Mountains hiking guide
  • 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 satellite phone
  • 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)

What Gear to Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent, lip balm, and toiletries are also important.

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!

Clothes to Bring

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with detailed guidance about what clothes to pack (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, and our recommended clothing system. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required.

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 Time

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 Considerations

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. We’ve developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and all tours carry an emergency communication device. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.

Guides

Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.

Guides 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.

Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on Smoky Mountains backpacking trips is 6 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum group size of 6 guests and 1 or 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) and we’ll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:

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

Weather in The Great Smoky Mountains

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:

  • 4.9 (7 reviews)
Sean S
5.0

Just What the Doctor Ordered

9 months ago

Had a great time with my brothers on a hiking / backpacking trip in the Smokies led by our awesome guide, Francisco Miller. He had a wealth of experience hiking all over the U.S. and was a great camp cook as well. We worked hard and ate well, and had an overall terrific time getting off the grid for a few days while burning some calories and being enveloped in nature, just what the doctor ordered. Thank you Wildland and thank you Frankie, can't wait to do it again.

Ben S
5.0

Sign Up With This Company

10 months ago

I highly recommend this trip, even if you have zero experience hiking and camping. You do need to train ahead of time carrying a heavy pack uphill, but we had a terrific guide, Francisco Miller. Francisco is one of the few people to hike all three major North American trails, so you couldn’t find a more qualified person. He was so friendly, my three brothers and I felt like we could be ourselves for the whole trip, allowing us to really enjoy our time in the mountains together. I was a bit worried going into the trip because we chose the vegan meal option, but to my pleasant surprise, Francisco prepared delicious meals for us three times a day, plus we were provided more snacks than we could finish. Despite a high level of exercise, we never felt hungry. If you have a few days, and you want to have a great time in a magical place, sign up with this company.

Steve H
5.0

Food was Outstanding

10 months ago

When they say gourmet "backcountry" meals they mean it. Brie and smoked gouda for lunch. All meals cooked in frying pan and pots. No freezer bags Hot chocolate and/or hot tea/coffee on cold winter mornings, afternoons and nights. Priceless!

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