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Great Smoky Mountains, NC

Apr 20 - Apr 27, 2019 -- $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 perspiring). The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited National Park in the country, but despite its popularity and proximity to major population centers, our trek will provide plenty of solitude from the crowds and access to one of the most beautiful displays of wildflowers you can find in the lower 48. Your guides will be happy to identify them for you.


Spring is a great time to be in the Smokies just as flowers begin to bloom, trees start to leaf out, and weather becomes temperate.


The park is an amazing wilderness featuring an abundance of wildlife including deer, elk, wild boar, black bears and even red wolves. This trip has most everything you can find in the Smokies: wildflowers, virgin forest, vistas, wildlife and preserved pioneer dwellings.


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.


Spring is high season in the Smokies, so won’t you join us?



Weather

Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 70s and 80s 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 high elevation (we had snow one year) as well as warm sunny weather or rain.



Trip Leaders

Bruce Cannon
Holly Chambers


Cost

$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 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, insurance, satellite phone and awesome guides.



Note

Our route crosses creeks and streams several times. There are usually bridges, but there are 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 less strenuous than others because of fewer and more gradual elevation changes and solid footing, even if mileages are a little longer.


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Itinerary
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Guides for this trip
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Important Note
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Itinerary


Saturday, April 20, 2019

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.


Call or text us and we will pick you up and take you to the hotel (TBD)


Equipment shakedown


Trail mix distribution


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


"Before" measurements taken


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



Sunday, April 21, 2019

Start the hike at the “Tunnel to Nowhere”, elevation 2100'.


After going through the tunnel and back, hike 0.7 miles on Lakeshore Road,


Hike onto the Noland Creek Trail where we start gently up an old road bed through the former Noland Creek community past many old home sites on the Noland Creek Trail for 6.1 miles to campsite #62, elevation 2950’


Total miles today = 7.0. Total miles = 7.0



Monday, April 22, 2019

Hike 2 more gentle miles on the Noland Creek Trail


Hike 3.3 miles up and over the Pole Road Creek Trail to Deep Creek Trail


Hike 0.7 mile gently downstream to campsite #57, elevation 2300’


Campsite #57 is the final site where Horace Kephart lived. He was very instrumental in the Smokies becoming a National Park.


Total miles today = 6.0. Total miles = 13.0



Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Hike 1.5 miles up the Martin's Gap Trail


Hike a steady climb 4.9 miles on the Sunkota Ridge Trail to the Thomas Divide Trail


Hike 0.4 miles to campsite #52, Newton Bald, elevation 5000’


Miles today = 6.8. Total miles = 19.8



Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Hike 2.8 gently undulating miles on the Thomas Divide Trail to Kanati Fork Trail


Descend steadily 2.9 miles to Highway 441. We may cache food here to pick up for the rest of the trip


Hike South for 0.3 miles to the Kephart Prong Trail


Hike 2.0 gentle miles on the Kephart Prong Trail on an old railroad bed through an old CCC camp and former trout rearing pools


Camp at the Kephart Prong shelter, elevation 3500’


Total miles today = 8.0. Total miles = 27.8



Thursday, April 25, 2019

Hike 2.5 miles up the Grassy Branch Trail to the Dry Sluice Gap Trail


Descend steadily 2.9 miles to the Cabin Flats Trail


Hike 0.8 practically level miles to the Cabin Flats campsite, # 49, elevation 3250’


Miles today = 6.2. Total miles = 34.0



Friday, April 26, 2019

Hike back 0.8 miles on the Cabin Flats Trails to Dry Sluice Gap Trail


Descend gently 0.3 miles to the Bradley Fork Trail


Hike 4.9 miles down the Bradley Fork Trail on an old railroad bed beside the Bradley Fork of the Oconoluftee River to the Smokemont campground, elevation 2200’


Miles today = 5.1. Total miles = 39.1


Shuttle back to Hotel (TBD)


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.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Guides will drop you at the airport


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