Smokies Hiking Guides
Great Smoky Mountains Treks
Smokies Hikes
Great Smoky Mountains Hiking Tour
Appalachia Guided Treks
Appalachia Hiking Tour
Smokies Guides
Smoky Mountains Hiking Vacation

Best of the Smokies

Highlights

  • The Park's best hikes
  • Diversity, beauty and adventure
  • Most historically rich areas of the Smokies
  • Wonderful, hand-picked accommodations
  • All-around experience of the Smokies
  • The park's most impressive cascading waterfalls

Description

Our Best of the Smokies combines the highlights of the Smokies into one all-inclusive, purely Appalachian outdoor vacation. You'll intimately experience the Smokies' diverse forests, waterfalls, historical sites, scenic drives, sweeping vistas, and the famous Appalachian Trail all in one action-packed hiking package. We've also meticulously handpicked the inns/hotels and restaurants to make your week as comfortable and enriching as possible!
Our hikes focus on all areas of the Park, giving you a comprehensive experience of the Smokies, and we stay in different charming Appalachian towns that are unique and historical in their own right. The meals are a combination of picnic and trail meals prepared by your guide and restaurant meals at carefully selected, award-winning establishments that reflect the local color and culture of Appalachia.
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Trip Dates

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You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.
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800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Itinerary

Day 1
  • Shuttle to the Smokies: 1.5-hour drive from Asheville
  • Hiking Mileage: 8 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1300 feet
  • Accommodations: Dancing Bear Cabins (or similar equivalent)
This inn-based Great Smoky Mountains hiking tour starts with a scenic drive from Asheville to the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Our first hike takes you to one of Smoky Mountain National Park's most spectacular creeks, Big Creek. Along our hike, we will pass through diverse ecosystems with opportunities to see wildlife such as black bears, deer, and Smaller mammals. Our trail takes us to a couple of spectacular waterfalls, Midnight Hole Falls and Mouse Creek Falls. After enjoying the falls, we will head back to our vehicle and head to our next hike along historic Porters Creek. Here, we will get our first taste of the area's early settler history while exploring old farm sites, pioneer buildings, and a backcountry cemetery. Lunch today consists of healthy, tasty picnic options, prepared by your guide, at one of the Park’s many excellent picnic spots. Today's second hike boasts even more amazing creek-side hiking and our third waterfalls for the day, Fern Falls! After our hike we will continue on to Townsend, TN, "the quiet side of the Smokies," to settle into our cozy lodging, get cleaned up, and enjoy our first Appalachian dinner at a local, hand-picked restaurant.
Day 2
  • Shuttle to trailhead: 30 minutes
  • Hiking Mileage: 8 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1140 feet
  • Accommodations: Dancing Bear Cabins (or similar equivalent)
Today starts with a hearty Appalachian breakfast cooked by your guide at the Cades Cove Picnic area (weather depending). After breakfast we will explore the culturally rich Cades Cove historic district, while keeping an eye out for some of the Park's many types of wildlife (black bear, deer, elk, turkey, and more). Often this is a highlight of the trip due to the many historic buildings, stunning scenery, and wonderful tranquility of this rich mountain valley. 

Today's official hike is a forested creek-side hike up the lush Middle Prong of the Little River to the Lynn Camp Prong Cascades and Indian Flats Falls. This stunning river valley is arguably home to the Smokies' most scenic waterfall hike. The hike starts in the historic logging area of Tremont. Here the Little River Lumber Company had a large camp prior to the establishment of the Park. We'll relax for a picnic lunch near the first cascades before heading on up to more lovely cascades and waterfalls. We'll enjoy the falls, take photos, and eventually hike back to the trailhead. A short shuttle ride to our hotel, a tasty Southern dinner and a cozy night's sleep top off another rewarding day of Smoky Mountains exploration.
Day 3
  • Shuttle to Newfound Gap: 1-2 hours
  • Hiking Mileage: appx 8 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1640 feet
  • Accommodations: The Everett Hotel and Bistro (or similar equivalent)
Our third day starts with another amazing breakfast cooked by your guide in one of the Park’s picnic areas (weather depending) or at a locally owned restaurant. After breakfast, we'll enjoy a scenic drive through the park up to historic Newfound Gap. It was here that Roosevelt dedicated the Park with a speech in 1940. Today's hike takes us along the famous Appalachian Trail to Charlies Bunion, one of the Park's most celebrated rock formations. Fantastic views of the endless rolling ridges of the Smokies abound on today's hike. We'll enjoy a picnic lunch with the incredible views as our backdrop before hiking back to the trailhead. If time permits, we will check out the summit of Clingman's Dome, the highest peak in the Park at 6,643 feet.
Day 4
  • Shuttle to trailhead: appx 45 minutes
  • Hiking Mileage: 7.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 900 feet
  • Accommodations: The Everett Hotel and Bistro (or similar equivalent)
Today starts with breakfast in Bryson City. After eating, we will head over to the highest dam East of the Mississippi River, Fontana Dam. Here we will enjoy views of Fontana Lake and the surrounding mountains before continuing on to the Twenty Mile Ranger Station for today's hike. This hike is one of the most diverse and in many ways most fulfilling as we dive into enjoying all the Smokies' have to offer! Our path takes us past stunning cascades, through forests bursting with an incredible array of plant and animal life, and along charming mountain creeks. Tonight's dinner is at a local restaurant after a refreshing shower and a bit of down time at our hotel.
Day 5
  • Shuttle to trailhead: appx 20 minutes
  • Hiking Mileage: appx 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 600 feet
  • Shuttle to Asheville: 1.5-hour drive
The final day of our Appalachian Hiking Experience begins with a loop hike in the Deep Creek area. During this scenic hike, we will enjoy 3 waterfalls and a backcountry Cherokee cemetery. Lunch today will be at one of the Park’s amazing picnic areas. After lunch, we will explore the Oconoluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum. These are both fabulous areas to learn even more about the history, struggles, and life styles of the Park’s earliest inhabitants and settlers.

A scenic shuttle back to Asheville along the famed Blue Ridge Parkway gives us time to contemplate the natural beauty, invigorating hiking, phenomenal biodiversity, and fascinating history we've had the privilege to explore for the past 5 days.



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, road closures, guest ability/injury, and natural events like fires and flooding.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • 4 nights of lodging at local, hand-picked, Appalachian inns, hotels and/or cabins
  • 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
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Great Smoky Mountains hiking guide
  • Transportation for the duration of the tour originating and concluding in Asheville, NC
  • 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
  • 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

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 or Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Satellite phone


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 (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), 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 ($500).

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 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 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.


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.


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 hiking tours is 6 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum of 9 guests and 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)
     
 
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°