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Great Smoky Mountains

Wednesday, October 11, 2023 - Wednesday, October 18, 2023 -- $1550 ★★ SOLD OUT - Put me on the waiting list


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. 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).

Our route passes through old logging rail beds and CCC camps which once housed the people who built these trails. The end of our route traverses the Appalachian Trail -- from Cosby Knob to Davenport Shelter. We'll spend a few days in Tennessee and also visit the fire tower on Mt. Cammerer.

This trip will take you through virgin forests, clear streams teeming with wild trout (note: our permit does not let us guide commercial fishing trips), high elevation spruce-fir forests and expansive balds / meadows where elk and turkeys forage. Your guides have spent many years exploring the Smokies and will be ready to help you identify the flowers, wildlife and even some mushrooms that abounds here. They may also provide a story or two about the people who once called this remote and natural region home.

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?

Topographical Map of Proposed Route

See CalTopo map


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 60s and 70s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s. However, be prepared for the possibility of day temperatures as high as th 80s and nights below 30, probably with a day (or more) of rainfall and on rare occasion, snowfall. Here is the historical 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
Collin Chambers
Any Other Guide(s) TBD


While all Fitpacking trips are difficult some of the time, this one might be considered about average in terms of strenuousness. There is solid footing and terrain as well as well established trails. But mileage is a bit longer than some trips. Also please be aware that hauling all your gear and food for a week is not easy no matter what the terrain is like.


$1550 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will 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 incur parking charges for leaving your car at the hotel all week (probably none, but they sometimes charge for this).

Covered expenses include 1 hotel night, 5 nights in the backcountry, 1 night in a frontcountry campground, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation to/from Asheville and the National Park, park permits, backcountry permits 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.


As the park gives individuals a week more than commercial operators like us to book backcountry sites, we were unable to get the exact itinerary we proposed. Please see the updated itinerary (on September 18) below.

Our route may cross creeks and streams at times. There is no guarantee of bridges. Be prepared to wear water shoes and use trekking poles to walk through almost knee-deep water in order to cross these waterways.

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Important Note
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Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Drive or fly into Asheville Airport (AVL). The best time to arrive is between around 9AM-1PM, earlier is generally better. Asheville is a small airport so flights may be limited. If you have to arrive later that may be fine as long as the group can leave Asheville by around 4PM.

Call or text us and we will pick you up and take you to a local hotel where we will assemble

We will assemble at: Clarion Inn Asheville Airport, 550 Airport Road, Arden, NC, 28732, (828) 483-4260.

You should have already done an online shakedown pre-trip, but guides will still ask you a few questions and give you a "mini equipment shakedown"

Make your own trail mix from our selection of nuts, fruits and sweets

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

"Before" body composition measurements taken

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

At around 3PM, shuttle to campsite: Big Creek Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC. Site(s): 5 & 6 Elevation: 1700'

Shuttling will take about 2 hours

Guides prepare dinner in camp. On some trips with longer shuttle times, we may opt to go out for an opening dinner at a local restaurant. (Cost of restaurant dinner not included in trip price)

Camp at Big Creek Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC. Site(s): 5 & 6 Elevation: 1700'

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Begin hiking on the Benton Mackaye Trail for 0.6 miles to the Chestnut Branch Trail, elevation 1730'

Hike 2.0 uphill miles on the Chestnut Branch trail to the Appalachian Trail, elevation 2870'

Hike 0.9 miles on the AT to the Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail, elevation 3460'

Hike 4.1 miles on the Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail to Gilliland Creek Campsite #35, elevation 2600'

Camp at the Gilliland Creek Campsite #35, elevation 2600'

Miles today: 7.7. Total miles: 7.7

Possible bailout: Big Creek Campground

Friday, October 13, 2023

Hike 3.4 miles on the Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail to the Cosby frontcountry campsite, elevation 2340'

Expect to take a break here (pit toilets!)

Hike 4.8 uphill miles on the Snake Den Ridge Trail to the Maddron Bald Trail, elevation 5400'

Hike 1.5 downhill miles on the Maddron Bald Trail to Otter Creek Campsite #29, elevation 4520'

Camp at Otter Creek Campsite #29, elevation 4520'

Miles today 9.7, total 17.4

Possible bailout: Cosby

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Hike 4.8 downhill miles on the Maddron Bald Trail to Gabes Mt. Trail, elevation 2400'

Hike 1.7 miles on Gabes Mountain Trail to Sugar Cove Campsite #34, elevation 3070'

Camp at Sugar Cove Campsite #34, elevation 3070'

Miles today: 6.5, total 23.9

Possible bailout: Baxter Rd.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Hike 4.8 mostly flat miles to Cosby Frontcountry Campground, elevation 2510'

Hike 2.8 uphill miles on the Low Gap Trail to Low Gap on the Appalachian Trail, elevation 4240'

Hike 0.7 uphill miles on the AT to the Cosby Knob shelter

Camp at the Cosby Knob Shelter, elevation 5800'

Miles today: 8.3, total 32.2

Possible bailout: Cosby campground

Monday, October 16, 2023

Hike 0.9 downhill miles (500') on the AT to Low Gap, elevation ?'

Hike 2.1 uphill miles (800') on the AT to the junction with the Mt Cammerer Trail, elevation 4900'

Drop packs and day-hike 1.2 round trip miles to the Mt. Cammerer fire tower for sweeping views of the Eastern side of the Smokies, elevation 4928'

Retrieve packs and hike 4.2 steadily dowhill miles to the Davenport Gap shelter

Camp at Davenport Gap shelter, elevation 2600'

Miles today: 8.4. Total miles: 40.6

Possible bailout: Big Creek campground or Davenport Gap.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Hike 1.0 miles on the AT back to the Chestnut Branch Trail, elevation 2900'

Hike 2.1 dowhill miles on the Chestnut Branch Trail to the Big Creek Trail and our vehicles, elevation 1700'

End of hiking

Possible bailout:

Miles today: 3.1. Total miles: 43.7

Shuttle back to local hotel: Clarion Inn Asheville Airport, 550 Airport Road, Arden, NC, 28732, (828) 483-4260.

Gather your off-trail items from storage

After body composition measurements taken

Dinner and awards ceremony at a local restaurant (Dinner cost not included in trip price)

Stay in our local hotel (included in trip cost)

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.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Take free airport shuttle or we will pay for a shared cab/Uber

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