When thinking of adventure vacations, North Carolina isn’t always on the top of everyone’s list. However, the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina are premier adventure territory. The solitude of the wilderness regions is an unexpected treat for anyone looking to learn more about the Southern Appalachia area of the East.
Both areas are plentiful with wildlife and are exceptionally ecologically diverse. Our North Carolina tours offer a wide range of options from day hiking, backpacking, or even inn-based trips. No matter your timeframe, the North Carolina mountains will have something to offer you!
When To Go
Depending on the area of the State you are in, North Carolina is host to a wide array of climatic differences. As both of our travel destinations are mountainous regions, their climates will be relatively similar. Like many areas of the Appalachian mountain range, there are specific nuances that make this climate unique. Especially in comparison to that of other mountainous regions of the U.S. – such as the Rocky Mountains or Sierras. Not only that, but area-specific weather will differ drastically according to your exact location, topography, and elevation.
When preparing for a trip to either the Great Smoky Mountains or the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is best to consult the area’s weather forecast to ensure you know what to expect. The information below reflects averages and generalizations of the area’s climate. So, to be fully prepared for your trek, research local weather conditions before you leave!
June to August (Summer)
This timeframe is one of the busiest times of year to visit both the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The average temperatures during the summer range from the 80s to the low 90s (Fahrenheit), whereas nighttime temperatures will be comfortable at 60-70 degrees.
Due to the area’s topography, temperatures can differ up to 20 degrees from the base of a mountain to the top. This difference can be significant during warm hiking days, but visitors can prepare for surprisingly chilly temperatures by packing and hiking with layers.
North Carolina is a humid, wet state. However, the mountain regions of the State are lucky not to see quite as much humidity as coastal regions. During the summer, it is not uncommon for afternoon thunderstorms to appear or for the valleys to seem hazy due to moisture content in the air. The end of June and early July are also especially popular in the higher elevations of the Blue Ridge mountains as the rhododendron flowers are in full bloom.
September to Mid-November (Fall)
This period is also an extremely popular time in these mountain regions. The Fall colors and moderate daytime temperatures make hiking enjoyable and the Appalachian vistas even more spectacular. October is usually the busiest month in Autumn, as that is when the leaves have mostly changed from green to the splendor of red and orange.
Most of the Fall foliage color has disappeared, and the leaves have fallen, by the first few weeks of November. The beginning of November, however, is still a popular time for hikers as daytime temperatures are in the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit while the nighttime sits around 50 degrees. The lack of leaves and pleasant temperatures have hikers coming for long-range views of the mountains and hills. By the middle of November, though, the temperatures will drop. Occasionally, just a few weeks into November, winter arrives with below-freezing temperatures and snowy conditions closing roadways and higher elevation trails.
March-May (Spring) is a relatively good time to visit the area. It is not as busy as the Summer and Fall, however, due to the unpredictable weather and somewhat cold temperatures. Early in the Spring, daytime temperatures and sunny skies can be enjoyable for outdoor activities but are known to change suddenly to become snow flurries. Later in the season, the afternoon sunshine is usually interrupted by daily rain showers.
The Spring visitor count can start to pick up during the weekends in April and May as the wildflowers begin to bloom and area dogwood trees bud. When that time arrives, the temperatures will start to warm up and average around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, while nights often are 40 degrees or lower.
While the temperatures are rising throughout April and May, the chance of rain is also going up. Both months individually see more than 4 inches of rain in an average year. All of this rain brings an incredible amount of life to the area’s vegetation and is still a great time of year to experience native flora and fauna, but don’t forget your raincoat!
Mid-November-February (Winter) is the slowest time of year in Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains, despite the moderate conditions early in the season. As winter progresses, the areas will see more snow, colder temperatures, and possible road closures. Some attractions, visitor centers, and campgrounds will close during this time.
The temperatures during the day will hover in the 40s and 50s degrees Fahrenheit and be below freezing at night. At higher elevations, the temperatures will stay below freezing allowing waterfalls to remain frozen and mountain tops to stay snow-covered through mid-March.
While this is a low season for tourism, many area locals still enjoy the solitude of the hills by hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. During the low season, you can also expect lodging rates to be much cheaper. However, there is usually a slight spike in visitor interest to these areas during the holiday season (from Thanksgiving to Christmas).
Our North Carolina backpacking treks are offered in both the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains. From overnight adventures to week-long mountain treks, a trek in the North Carolina mountains is something the whole family can enjoy. You will have a chance to experience the sweeping views of this Appalachain region, hike among old-growth forests, and enjoy lunch along mountain streams and waterfalls.
Join one of our relaxing inn-based hiking tours that mix comfort and adventure into an unforgettable multi-day trip. You will enjoy evenings in carefully selected accommodations and days on the trails featuring the best hiking the area has to offer. Be immersed in the diversity of the region and history of the hills, enjoy hot showers and warm beds at night, and allow our professional guides to take care of rest!
This trip style is the perfect option for families or those unsure about a full-on backpacking trip. Unlike our other backpacking trips, our porters will carry in all our gear on Day 1, set up camp, and carry our gear out on the last day. Leaving us free to enjoy the surrounding trails and vistas with just a day pack! Experience sweeping Appalachian views, gourmet fireside meals, and the stunning backcountry of North Carolina.
If you only have a day to spare in Great Smoky Mountain National Park or Asheville, NC, one of our guided day hikes is the best way to experience the Appalachians! Our day hikes explore the natural and cultural nuances of the region, visit historical sites, and see what makes these mountains extraordinary. Our day hiking tours include the use of a day pack, trekking poles, as well as snacks and lunch.
Need to Know
Here at Wildland Trekking, we take pride in ensuring that the logistical aspects of your trip are covered so you can enjoy the experience! Still, there are a few things you need to know and schedule before you can start your North Carolina excursion with us.
Primary Departure Point For North Carolina
All of our North Carolina trips will start and end in Asheville, NC. Your rendezvous location with your guide for the trip orientation and first-day pick-up will be dependant on your specific trip. All meeting locations will be the hotel designated on your trip’s particular webpage under the “trip logistics” tab, or at the hotel of your choice in the event we do not specify a location. Your guide will be in contact well before the start of your adventure to coordinate meeting times and places.
Book in Advance
Travel to Asheville, NC, and pre/post trip lodging reservations are not included in your tour price. So, once you’ve had your trip dates confirmed with Wildland Trekking, begin to make your other travel arrangments. Please remember that this region is a very popular destination, and hotel vacancies will quickly diminish while prices increase. We highly recommend that you make your travel reservations as soon as possible after confirming your hiking adventure with us.
Asheville, NC is a popular area for tourists, especially during the times of year that our tours typically run. While there is an extensive number of lodging options, booking early can ensure you get a premier location at a reasonable price.
Our recommended location and one of the main hotels for our trip orientations is the Holiday Inn and Suites Asheville. They offer all Wildland Trekking guests a year-round rate of $99-140. For other lodging options, check out the Explore Asheville website.
If you are flying, you can choose to fly into Asheville, NC, Charlotte, NC, or Greenville, SC. Shuttles and taxis are prevalent at the Asheville airport to area hotels. Therefore, transportation logistics will be much easier when flying into Asheville. However, if you choose a different city for your flight, you can book a shuttle to get to Asheville or rent a car. Most of our guests elect to rent a car for ease of travel and not having to stick to a strict timeline.
General Travel Advice
For more information about our North Carolina tours and general travel guidelines, please review our Travel Resources Page. Once there, scroll down to find the “North Carolina/Tennesee” section. This drop-down menu will provide you with detailed information about travel arrangements, safety, and more. If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to contact Wildland Trekking any day of the week at 1-800-715-HIKE(4453).
Have more questions? Send us an email or call us at 1-800-715-HIKE(4453). We’re here 7 days a week from 9:00 to 4:30 Mountain Time to make sure your trip planning goes as smoothly as possible.
For more information about all your options, check out our North Carolina page on the website with the button below! Individual trip pages have detailed itineraries, trip specifics, travel information, and more.