Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Spring is a beautiful time to be in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park just as flowers begin to bloom, trees start to leaf out, and weather becomes temperate. The park is an amazing wilderness with an abundance of wildlife featuring deer, wild boar, black bears and even red wolves. The park is one of the most visited National Parks in the United States. Despite its popularity and proximity to population centers, our trip will provide plenty of solitude, far away from the crowds on the seldom used Lakeshore Trail / Benton Mackeye Trail and Forney Creek Trails.


The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fitpacking Trip will be from April 28 - May 5, 2012. Even if you have been on one of our Fitpacking trips through the Smokies before, you will want to join us again for a different route that promises to be awe inspiring (as well as perspiring). Here is the proposed itinerary.

Beginning at the 1000 foot long 2-lane pedestrian “Tunnel to Nowhere”, we will encounter a cross section of Smoky Mountain history on this hike, including Cherokee legends and heritage, evidence of the logging era, old home sites, the remains of one of the old Civilian Conservation Corps Camps and one of the camp sites of Horace Kephart, one of the earliest and best known advocates for the establishment of the Park. We will conclude our trip with a stay at the rustic LeConte Lodge, the only backcountry lodging in the entire Park. At 6593', Mt. LeConte is the third highest peak in the Park; is one of the premier vantage points in the Park for viewing sunrise and sunset, and the only way to get there is on foot.

This trip takes place during the peak of the Spring wildflower season, and your guides will be happy to identify them for you.


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


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 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 April weather Be prepared for cold temps at the summit (we had snow one year) as well as warm sunny weather or rain.

Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg, lives in Hull, MA and has many years of backpacking experience over a variety of terrains and guides most Fitpacking trips. He is a SOLO certified Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace Trainer, and Certified Food Handler.

Bruce Cannon, lives in Columbia, SC and is a Wilderness Medicine certified Wilderness First Responder and a Leave No Trace Master Educator. He is a long-time Scoutmaster and maintains a section of the 76 mile-long Foothills Trail in South and North Carolina.

Equipment List

Here is a list of equipment we suggest you bring. The list is extensive and can seem daunting, but please don't let this deter you from the trip. You can rent top notch quality gear for reasonable prices from Traverse Outfitters, Lower Gear or Outdoors Geek. It may also be possible for us to provide some gear for you at a nominal fee if you let us know far ahead of the trip. Unfortunately, we're not in the gear business so the selection of our available inventory is unpredictable. Please feel free to discuss any gear with us before the trip.


We don't believe in austere eating regimens. Backpacking is a rigorous, rewarding activity. You must feed your body in order for it perform. Your body will dictate that you eat often, so it's important to have fuel to feed it. Please check out the sample menus. This list is not comprehensive and may be altered or augmented. If you want to bring personal food, say a 5 pound chocolate cake, go for it. You'll not only hate carrying it over 50 miles through the Smoky Mountain wilderness, your body will reject the empty calories and prefer nutritious food.


$1250 per person. At the outset of our trip, we will be staying in a cabin in Fontana Village. Cabins fit as many as 8 people very snugly, so we may opt for a 2nd cabin or a traditional motel room for overflow, depending upon the number of participants.

At the end of the trip, we'll be staying at the Hike Inn, a facility which only accepts hikers where you may get to meet some Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, compare experiences, and start planning your own thru-hike.

We will also be staying at the famed LeConte Backcountry Lodge, located at the top of 6593' Mt. LeConte, providing frontcountry luxury in the wilderness.

You will be responsible for transportation to and from Knoxville if you fly or Fontana Village if you drive. Free parking is available at Fontana Village during the entire length of our trip.

Any restaurant meals eaten off the trail are also your responsibility. This generally means 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners. Finally, you will be responsible for any personal calls you make or receive on our satellite phone (typically for emergencies only -- battery life is limited) or from motel/hotel rooms.