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Great Smoky Mountains Trip 2, NC

SOLD OUT! (Put me on the waiting list)

Oct 24 - Oct 31, 2021 -- $1300 ★★

Even if you have been on one of our Fitpacking trips through the Smokies before, you will want to join us again for a somewhat different route that promises to be awe inspiring (as well as all perspiring). The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited National Park in the country, yet despite its popularity and proximity to major population centers, our trek will provide plenty of solitude from the crowds during Fall Foliage Season.

Beginning and ending at Smokemont Frontcountry Campground, we will head up to the Appalachian Trail and spend 2 nights in AT Shelters. Prior to the advent of the AT, noted author and early Smokies explorer Horace Kephart described the Sawteeth on the AT as "the most rugged and difficult part of the Smokies and of the United States east of Colorado". Since then, the trail has smoothed out some of that ruggedness, but the Sawteeth still provide hikers with some of the finest views to be had.

The particular stretch of the AT we'll be traversing hides an old manway to the former False Gap shelter in between Ice Water Springs and Pecks Corner. If we have the time (and desire) we may take a 300 meter detour to the remains of the shelter and the spring below. Eventually, we will head back down towards Smokemont on some of the park's less-traveled trails.

The park also features an abundance of wildlife including deer, elk, wild boar, black bears and even red wolves. This trip is a good sampling ofthe Smokies: wilderness, virgin forest, vistas, the Appalachian Trail, wildlife and rustic shelters.

Fall is a great time to be in the Smokies as weather is still temperate, bugs subside and a panoply of colors begin to reveal themselves in the foliage. Isn't this a great time to join us?


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 60s and 70s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s and 50s. However, be prepared for the possibility of day temperatures as high as 90 and as low as 30, with an occasional chance of rainfall and on rare occasion, snowfall. Here is the historical October weather Be prepared for cold temps at high elevation (we had snow one year) as well as warm sunny weather or rain.

Probable Trip Leaders

Bruce Cannon
2nd Guide TBD


$1300 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Asheville Airport (AVL), as well as personal equipment restaurant meals and any gratuities for guides. You may also be charged for any parking charges for leaving your car at the hotel all week (probably none, but they sometimes charge for this).

Covered expenses include 2 hotel nights, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation to/from Asheville and the National Park, park permits, campsite fees and awesome guides.

Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.


This is the 2nd of 2 Fitpacking trips to the Great Smoky Mountains in 2021. Here is a link to the earlier trip.

Our route crosses creeks and streams several times. There are usually bridges, but there may be a few water crossings without them. Be prepared to wear water shoes and use trekking poles to walk through water (generally ankle deep but sometimes knee deep) in order to cross these waterways.

While all Fitpacking trips are difficult, this one might be considered somewhat more attainable than others because of relatively gradual elevation changes and solid footing, even if mileages are a little longer.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Drive or fly into Asheville Airport (AVL). The best time to arrive is between around Noon-3PM. However, if you can save a substantial amount on your flight by arriving a few hours earlier or later, then do so especially because flights to Asheville may be limited.

Take the free airport shuttle to Wingate by Wyndham Asheville Airport, 31 Airport Park Rd, Fletcher, NC 28732, 828-684-4311

Equipment shakedown. We go through all the items in your pack to make sure you are prepare for the trail

Trail mix distribution, pending Covid

Go to Diamond Brand Outdoor Shop, 2623 Hendersonville Rd. • Arden, NC 28704 • 800-459-6262 • for last minute equipment if necessary

"Before" measurements taken

Body temperature taken to assess Covid risk

Go out for dinner at a local restaurant (Dinner cost not included in trip price)

Monday, October 25, 2021

Second set of "before" measurements taken

Second body temperature taken to assess Covid risk

All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and put in a storage unit.

Free Hotel Breakfast

Check out of hotel

Shuttle to Smokemont Campground in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, elevation 2200'.

Hike 4.0 gently graded miles on the Bradley Fork Trail (an old railroad bed) alongside the Bradley Fork of the Oconoluftee River to the Cabin Flats Trail

Hike 0.9 m. on the Cabin Flats Trail through virgin timber to Cabin Flats, elevation 3060'

Camp at Cabin Flats campsite #49, elevation 3060'

Total miles today = 4.9. Total miles = 4.9

Possible Bailout: Smokemont.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Hike 0.9 miles on the Cabin Flats Trail to the Dry Sluice Gap Trail

Climb steadily for 3.0 miles on the Dry Sluice Gap Trail to Grassy Branch Trail

Descend 2.5 miles on the Grassy Branch Trail to the Kephart Shelter

Camp at the Kephart Shelter, elevation 3600'

Total miles today = 6.4. Total miles = 11.3

Possible Bailout: Smokemont (but it's not that close)

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Climb steadily 3.7 miles on the Sweat Heifer Trail past a very nice cascade to the Appalachian Trail.

Hike 1.3 miles on the AT to the Ice Water Springs shelter

Camp at the Icewater Spring Shelter, elevation 5900'

Miles today = 5.0. Total miles = 16.3

Possible Bailout: Newfound Gap

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Hike 7.5 undulating miles past Charlie's Bunion and the Saw Teeth of the AT to Peck's Corner and the Hughes Ridge Trail.

Enjoy some of the best views the Smokies has to offer along the way

Descend 0.4 miles on the Hughes Ridge Trail to the Pecks Corner shelter.

Camp at Pecks Corner Shelter, elevation 5480'

Total miles today = 7.9. Total miles = 24.2

Possible Bailout: Newfound Gap

Friday, October 29, 2021

Descend 4.6 miles on the Hughes Ridge Trail to the Chasteen Creek Trail

Descend 1.7 miles on the Chasteen Creek Trail to the Upper Chasteen Creek campsite

Camp at campsite 48, Chasteen Creek, elevation 3400'

Miles today = 6.3. Total miles = 30.5

Possible Bailout: One day away

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Descend 2.3 miles past the Chasteen Creek Cascade to the Bradley Fork Trail

Turn left and stroll 1.8 gentle miles on the Bradley Fork Trail to the Smokemont Campground, elevation 2200'

End of hiking

Miles today = 4.1. Total miles = 34.6

Shuttle back to Wingate by Wyndham Asheville Airport, 31 Airport Park Rd, Fletcher, NC 28732, 828-684-4311

After measurements taken

Dinner and awards Ceremony (Dinner cost not included in trip price)

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Free hotel breakfast

Take the free airport shuttle

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