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Great Smoky Mountains LeConte Lodge

Saturday, May 11, 2024 - Saturday, May 18, 2024 -- $1850 ★★ SOLD OUT - Put me on the waiting list

Most everyone who has been to Great Smoky Mountains National Park knows about the incredible, full-service mountaintop lodge called LeConte Lodge that is accessible only on foot. Fitpacking has obtained coveted reservations for this mountaintop retreat in order to cap off a week of day-hiking.

Great Smoky Mountains National park is the most visited National Park in the United States, but despite its popularity and proximity to major population centers, our trek provides plenty of solitude and visits some of the most beautiful wooded areas you can find in the lower 48. Spring is a great time to be in the Smokies just as the weather warms up and flowers and leaves begin to emerge.

The park is an amazing wilderness with an abundance of wildlife featuring deer, elk, wild boar, black bears and even red wolves. This trip features many things the Smokies offer: wildflowers, virgin forest, vistas, waterfalls, deep hollows, wildlife, Alum Cave and of course the historic LeConte Lodge. This trip has all that, plus a stroll through the human history of the Park.

Even if you have been on one of our Fitpacking trips through the Smokies before -- indeed even if you have been to LeConte Lodge promises to be awe inspiring (as well as all-perspiring). 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.


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 May 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
Chris Frey
Any Other Guide(s) TBD


While all Fitpacking trips are difficult some of the time, this one might be considered somewhat less strenuous than others because of solid footing and terrain. Plus, we may be able to cache food mid-trip so we only carry half as much as we typically do, rendering pack weights somewhat lighter.


$1850 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel room with another trip participant. You will also share one of 2 communal cabins at LeConte Lodge. 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, a night in LeConte Lodge (with sit-down dinner and breakfast), 4 nights in a frontcountry campground, 5 days of trail meals, ground transportation to/from Asheville and the National Park, park permits, backcountry permits and awesome guides.


We have confirmed reservations for LeConte Lodge on May 16th, 2024.

Due to the popularity of our Smokies trips and the fact that the park only allows groups of 8 in the backcountry plus our night in LeConte Lodge, we expect this trip to sell out quickly. We suggest you make your reservation earlier rather than later to ensure your spot. Although this may sound like we're creating a sense of false urgency, we really do expect it to sell out early.

Many of the LeConte Lodge rooms feature double-beds that we are expected to share. The beds are much wider than any 2-person backpacking tent for what it's worth.

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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Saturday, May 11, 2024

Drive or fly into Asheville Airport (AVL). The best time to arrive is between around 9AM-Noon, 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 3PM.

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: Comfort Inn Asheville Airport, 15 Rockwood Rd, Fletcher, NC, 28732, 828-687-9199.

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.

Shuttle to the Smokemont front country campground and set up base camp for the week. Depending on how much time we have after we get set up, your guides can walk you through the history of the Smokemont area

At around 3PM, shuttle to campsite: Smokemont Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC. Site(s): Group G1 Elevation: 2250'

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 Smokemont Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC. Site(s): Group G1 Elevation: 2250'

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Shuttle to the Newfound Gap parking area, elevation 5049'

Day hike 4 miles on the Appalachian Trail past the Boulevard Trail and the Ice Water Springs shelter to Charlie's Bunion, elevation 5528'

Take in incomparable views of the Northeastern side of the park and learn how Charlie's Bunion got its name.

Return 4 miles back to the vehicles and shuttle back to camp.

Camp at Smokemont Frontcountry Campground, Group Site G01, elevation 2250'

Miles today: 8.0. Total miles: 8.0

Possible bailout: Route 441

Monday, May 13, 2024

Shuttle through nearby Bryson City to the "Tunnel to Nowhere", elevation 1371'

As you walk through the 300 yard tunnel; it will become apparent how the tunnel got its name, but the story behind it is as remarkable as most Smokies tales.

Hike 3.0 miles through the tunnel and pick up the Goldmine Loop Trail past a number of former home sites, the shore of Lake Fontana, and back to the tunnel.

Hike about 5.0 round-trip miles up the Noland Creek Trail to several former home sites, a cemetary and the remains of an old mill.

Camp at Smokemont Frontcountry Campground, Group Site G01, elevation 2250'

Miles today 8.0, total 16.0

Possible bailout: Route 441.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Shuttle to the Kephart Prong trailhead, elevation 2070'

Hike 4.0 round-trip miles on the Kephart Prong Trail through relics from a former CCC camp and the logging era to the Kephart Prong shelter, elevation 3636'

Hike 2.0 miles on the on a little known former trail that connected the people of the Kephart community with those of Smokemont

Camp at Smokemont Frontcountry Campground, Group Site G01, elevation 2250'

Miles today: 6.0, total 22.0

Possible bailout: Highway 441

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Shuttle to the Sugarlands Visitor Center, elevation ?'

Hike 7.0 miles on the Old Sugarlands Trail along the former Tennessee highway 71 past the remains of old farms, an old schoolhouse, and another former CCC camp.

Camp at Smokemont Frontcountry Campground, Group Site G01, elevation 2250'

Miles today: 7.0, total 29.0

Possible bailout: Highway 441

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Break camp early to get an early start in order to have more time to relax at LeConte Lodge

Shuttle to the Newfound Gap parking area, elevation 5049'

Hike 3.0 miles on the AT to the Boulevard Trail, elevation 6030'

The Boulevard provides a beautiful undulating hike through a spruce/fir forest along the Anakeesta Ridge with frequent sweeping views of the northeastern side of the Park

Hike 4.9 miles on the Boulevard Trail, enjoying vista after vista to High Top, the crest of Mt. Leconte and the third highest elevation in the Park at 6,593 feet

Gently descend 0.5 miles on to LeConte Lodge. Our lodging includes family style supper and breakfast, and plenty of it. You can purchase souvenirs from the lodge and send a post card with the LeConte Lodge post mark to your family. Llamas will pack out your post card on Wednesday. Our cabins have propane heat, kerosene lanterns and genuine Hudson’s Bay wool blankets for all the comforts of (a 19th century) home. The lodge is only accessible by foot and you have earned it.

Day-Hike 1.0 round-trip miles to enjoy a National Geographic quality sunset from Cliff Top after dinner. Return to enjoy a hot cocoa in the community room, play a board game or sing a song or two (note: singing ability not required).

Miles today: 9.4. Total miles: 38.4

Possible bailout: Highway 441

Friday, May 17, 2024

LeConte Lodge provides a full sit-down breakfast

Steadily descend 5.5 miles from the lodge on the Alum Cave Trail to the Alum Cave Trailhead, elevation 3800'

Along the way we will pass by Gracie's Pulpit, Alum Cave and Arch Rock; the latter two being two of the most interesting geological formations in the Park. The trail actually passes through Arch Rock. Trail renovations on this trail have just recently been completed, and will be a pleasure to walk. The last mile and a quarter especially is an easy stroll all the way to the parking lot

End of hiking

Possible bailout: Highway 441

Miles today: 5.5. Total miles: 43.9

Shuttle back to local hotel: Comfort Inn Asheville Airport, 15 Rockwood Rd, Fletcher, NC, 28732, 828-687-9199.

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.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

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

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