800-715-HIKE 9-4:30 Every Day     Wildland Wires Sign Up!     Wild. Blog Trek & Travel
Smokies Backpacking Guides
Great Smoky Mountains Treks
Smokies Hikes
Great Smoky Mountains Backpacking Tour
Appalachia Guided Treks
Appalachia Hiking Tour
Smokies Backpacking Guides
Smoky Mountains Hiking Vacation

Smoky Mountains Classic


  •   Best grassy bald in the Smokies
  •   Stunning meadows & historical sites
  •   Wonderful backcountry cascades
  •   Sunset dinner on Gregory Bald
  •   Amazing pioneer historical sites
  •   Sweeping views of the Smokies


Our Smoky Mountains Classic is an opportunity to fully enjoy one of the Park’s most iconic and scenic features: the grassy bald. Gregory Bald is one of the Park's most impressive balds and allows for tremendous views of the historically rich Cades Cove and surrounding mountains. This is also a wonderful wildlife trip, as we often see deer, elk, and black bears as they all rely on the resources provided by the grassy balds.

Our trip begins on the banks of the Little Tennessee River, where we work our way up a few different mountain creeks that lead us into the higher mountains. We'll pass waterfalls, hike along ridges, stop to explore the flora and fauna of these amazing forests, and eventually arrive at Gregory Bald. Camp is not far away, so after initially enjoying the views we'll return that evening for a sunset dinner in one of the most magnificent settings imagineable. We'll take a different way back down on the last day, creating a great loop hike.

We're Here to Help!

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
  • Going Fast
  • Request a Reservation
Don't see your dates? Call us!
We may be able to add new trip dates.
800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Itinerary

Day 1
  • Shuttle to the trailhead: 2-hour drive from Asheville
  • Hiking Mileage: 4.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1200 feet

On this multi-day Great Smoky Mountains backpacking trip we begin hiking on a graded road that the Civilian Conservation Corps improved during the Great Depression. Rock cuts done by the CCC reveal the amazing geology of this ancient mountain range, which your guide will explain as you hike. We will soon come to Twenty Mile Cascade, a beautiful waterfall tucked in a dense, vibrant forest. We'll eat lunch by the cascade, then continue our journey down a mountain creek to our campsite. The last part of today's hike takes us past historic stone walls and foundations, the remnants of early settlers who briefly lived in this area. After getting settled in camp you can relax by the creek or enjoy an afternoon hike along one of the stunning creeks flowing near camp. Our day ends with a fantastic Appalachian dinner and relaxing evening.

Day 2
  • Hiking Mileage: 4.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2120 feet

Today is the highlight of the trip and a day you're not likely to forget! After a hearty breakfast we'll continue hiking up our mountain creek to Long Hungry Ridge, which got it's name from a group of bear hunters marooned for days by bad weather and flooding in the early 20th century. We'll pass Rye Patch, a historic area planted with rye before the civil war by an early settler of the region. Since then, the area has regrown a mixed hardwood forest with a lush, grassy ground cover. After another mile along our trail we come to the famous Gregory Bald, where we'll absorb the amazing views of Cades Cove far below and the surrounding Mountains in all directions. Gregory Bald is known for its amazing views and its abundance of the beautiful Flame Azalea, which usually blooms in early summer, turning this bald into a natural work of art. We'll enjoy lunch in the tall grass of the bald, surrounded by wildflowers and views, before continuing on to our campsite. We'll set up camp and return to Gregory Bald for an unforgettable sunset dinner (weather permitting). Often at dusk we spot wildlife migrating from the forests to the meadows to feed. Our hike back to camp in the near dark completes this amazing day of Smoky Mountains wonder.

Day 3
  • Hiking Mileage: 6.8 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 3320 feet
  • Shuttle to Asheville: 2-hour drive to Asheville

Our last day starts with a relaxing breakfast, after which we'll begin our long downhill trek. Initially we pass hoards of blueberry bushes, where we have good chances of seeing a black bear. The Smoky Mountains are home to one of the densest bear populations on the continent. We'll pass another bald, then continue down a ridge on an old road, built by a 1920's logging operation, to a beautiful mountain creek. After several creek crossings, we will arrive back at the remote Twenty Mile Ranger Station and our vehicle. We'll contemplate our Smoky Mountains experience as we pass back through the Park on our return trip to Asheville. Our drive back will allow for contemplation of our last 3 days in the Appalachian wilderness and time to plan our next adventure!

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.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • 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
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear (Oboz hiking shoes and boots recommended)
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
See the Packing Lists page for more information.

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 sleeping bags
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki or Black Diamond 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. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

What Clothes to Bring

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, and non-cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Ready to hike? In the Dates section of this trip page, the green 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 ($100).

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.

Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, 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 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 most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.


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.

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.

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)
  • 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 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)
Low Elev
High Elev

Camping on Backpacking Trips

backpacking tent

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 sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.

backpacking meals

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.

backpacking campsites

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.

Sign Up for Wildland Wires

Get updates about new trips, Wildland news, special discounts and more!

Similar Trips

Great Smoky Mountains Classic

Mt Sterling Appalachian Loop

Backpacking Trip

4 days
Blue Ridge Mountains Classic

Shining Rock Wilderness

Backpacking Trip

4 days