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Appalachia Hiking Tour
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Smoky Mountains Hiking Vacation

Portered Creeks & Peaks


  •  Comfortable hiking with a light day pack
  •  Sweeping views from the Appalachian Trail
  •  Scenic backcountry camps
  •  2 of the Park's most beautiful waterfalls
  •  Wildlife viewing opportunities
  •  Family friendly trip and itinerary
  •  Wildland's legendary quality of service


If you're interested in an exciting, scenic, diverse hiking/camping experience of the Great Smoky Mountains and would prefer to hike with a light day pack, this trip is for you! Great for families, couples and anyone who wants a backcountry trip with a high level of comfort on the trail, this trip does not disappoint. Porters will carry our gear and food in, set up camp, and on the final day they will break camp and transport everything out for us. We combine the best of two worlds - big Smoky Mountain views and beautiful creek side hiking - in one family-friendly itinerary that allows guests to enjoy the backcountry while hiking with minimal weight. 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!

Note for Families: this trip is an excellent choice for families with school-age children, and it can be easily adapted for the activity level your family is looking for. Also, the day hikes on Days 2 and 3 are optional and can be replaced with easier hikes if desired.

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Portered Hiking & Camping
Asheville, NC
3 or 4 days
22+mi / 35+km
3 Days: $975
4 Days: $1175

Taxes & Fees

Travel to Asheville

Backcountry Campsites

  Private Trips

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Trip Dates & Booking

Click on a date to register.
You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.
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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: 1-hour drive from Asheville
  • Hiking Mileage: 5.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,250 feet

On this multi-day Great Smoky Mountains hiking trip we depart the Big Creek Campground and immediately start to enjoy creek views and beautiful 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 camp at Lower Walnut Bottoms.

Assuming there are no extenuating circumstances our camp should be set up and waiting for us, taken care of by our porters. Our day ends with a fantastic Appalachian dinner prepared by your guide and a relaxing evening listening to the soft sounds of a cascading mountain stream.

Day 2
  • Hiking Mileage: 10.4 miles
  • Elevation Loss/Gain: 1,970 feet

Today starts with a delicious, hearty Appalachian breakfast prepared by your guide. Then we’ll head off from camp with daypacks up the Low Gap Trail. This historic path takes us past old agriculture sites and the famous Dan Gunter home site on our way to the world-renowned Appalachian Trail. Here we will turn North on the legendary trail to what many consider the best views in the Park, the Mount Cammerer Fire Tower. This tower, the only one of it's kind in the park constructed with rocks, 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 pristine forests of the Smoky Mountains.

Day 3 (4-day Itinerary Only)
  • Hiking Mileage: up to 12 miles
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: up to 2,820 feet

Today features two options:

  • One option is a challenging and fulfilling full-day hike. We start along a crystal clear mountain creek, then begin climbing up to the Mount Sterling Ridge Trail. After trekking through Spruce and Fir forests we come to the Mount Sterling summit and fire tower. We'll soak up sweeping views of the Smokies Crest and especially Mount Guyot (the Park's 2nd highest peak) over a picnic lunch, and then return to camp. (12 miles, 2820 feet gain/loss)
  • Another option is to relax in and around camp and enjoy a good book; or especially for families, today is a wonderful opportunity to explore the mountains, creeks and valleys around camp in an unstructured way. A day in the backcountry to just "be" can be a magical way to bond with nature, each other and even ourselves. (mileage and elevation vary)

Final Day
  • Hiking Mileage: 5.3 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 1,250 feet
  • Shuttle to Asheville: 1-hour drive to Asheville

Our final day starts with a relaxing breakfast, after which we'll begin our trek (again with light day packs as porters will break camp and transport everything out for us) back down the Big Creek Trail to our shuttle. A short drive will take us back to our starting point in Asheville, NC and end our Appalachian 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.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Porters to transport gear in and out, and to set up and break down camp
  • 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 maximum group size on portered trips is 5 guests, 2 porters and 1 guide. 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 Smokies 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 Smoky Mountains:
Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
Low Elev
High Elev

Camping on Portered Trips

backpacking tent

Backcountry Sleeping

Tent Camping

Sleeping on portered 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.

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