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Great Smoky Mountains, TN/NC

May 3 - May 10, 2017 -- $1325 ★★, Only 2 Spots Left

The 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 wildflowers you can find in the lower 48. 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 with an abundance of wildlife featuring deer, elk, wild boar, black bears and even red wolves. This trip has most everything the Smokies offer: wildflowers, virgin forest, balds with vistas, waterfalls, deep hollows, wildlife and even some historic pioneer dwellings in Cades Cove.

Even if you have been on one of our Fatpacking trips through the Smokies before, you will want to join us again, as this is a different route primarily in Tennessee that promises to be awe inspiring (as well as all-perspiring). This trip will take you through virgin forests, clear streams teeming with wild trout, the preserved homes of the former Cades Cove community, 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 and wildlife that abounds here and even provide a story or two about the people who once called this isolated region home.


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 nights as low as 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.

Trip Leaders

Steve Silberberg
Bruce Cannon


$1325 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 Knoxville Airport (TYS), as well as personal equipment, any restaurant meals and gratuities. 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 Knoxville and the National Park, park permits, insurance, satellite phone and awesome guides.


While all Fatpacking 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.

Our route crosses 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.


As of December 1, 2016 much of the National Park is closed, from Sugarlands to Smokemont on HIghway 441 due to the so-called Chimney Tops 2 Fire. Cades Cove (where this trip runs) has re-opened which bodes well for our trip. However, with the fire still blazing, it is too early to know what the impact on our May trip might be. The fire may still reach some of the trails we plan to hike on. Clearing such trails is difficult, time-consuming work that may or may not be completed by the time we arrive. With time, we will obviously know more.`

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Guides for this trip
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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Drive or fly into Knoxville Airport (TYS). 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.

Take free airport shuttle to Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Knoxville Airport, TN, 162 Cusick Rd, Alcoa, TN, 37701, 865-273-2800

Equipment shakedown

Trail mix distribution

Go to REI, 6700 Papermill Drive, Knoxville, TN 37919, (865) 584-1938 for last minute equipment if necessary

"Before" measurements taken

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Second set of "before" measurements taken

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

Free hotel breakfast

Shuttle to Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, elevation 1800'

Depending upon the number of participants and vehicles, we may take up to an hour to shuttle vehicles within the park

Begin the hike just past the Cades Cove Campground, elevation 1800'

Hike 0.5 miles to Rich Mtn Loop Trail, elevation 1900'

Hike 2.2 miles up the Crooked Arm Ridge Trail to Campsite 6

Camp at Campsite #6

Miles today: 2.7. Total miles: 2.7

Possible bailout: Cades Cove

Friday, May 5, 2017

Hike 1.8 miles on the Indian Grave Gap Trail Campsite 5, elevation 3300'

Hike 2.3 downhill miles on the Rich Mtn Trail to Rich Mountain Gap, elevation 2100'

Descend 5.6 miles on the Ace Gap Trail to campsite 3, elevation 1800'

Camp at Campsite 3, elevation 1800’

Miles today 9.7, total 12.4

Possible bailout: Rich Mountain Rd.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Hike 4.2 miles on the Beard Cane Trail to the Cooper Road Trail, elevation 1950'

Hike 1.8 miles on the Cooper Road Trail to the Cane Creek Trail, elevation 1500'

Hike 1.7 miles on the Cane Creek Trail to campsite 1, elevation 1250'

Camp at campsite 1 (yay, campsite #1!), elevation 1250'

Miles today: 7.7, total 20.1

Possible bailout: Abrams Creek Ranger Station

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hike 2.3 miles on the Little Bottoms Trail to the Hatcher Mtn Trail, elevation 1700'

Hike about 2.0 round trip miles on the Abrams Falls Trail to Abrams Falls, elevation 1750'

On a hot or even warm day, this is a great swimming hole

Hike 1.9 miles on the Hatcher Mtn Trail to Scott Gap, elevation 1750'

Hike about 3.6 miles on the Hannah Mtn Trail to Flint Gap, elevation 2000'

Camp at Campsite 14, elevation 2000'

Miles today: 9.8, total 29.9

Possible bailout: Abrams Creek Ranger Station

Monday, May 8, 2017

Hike about 4.0 uphill miles on the Hannah Mtn Trail to Parson Branch Rd., elevation 2750'

Hike 4.1 uphill miles on the Gregory Bald Trail to the Wolf Ridge Trail, elevation 4650'

Set up camp at campsite 13, elevation 4650'

Optional: Day-hike (no pack) 2.0 round trip miles on the Wolf Ridge Trail to Parson Bald, elevation 4732'

Camp at campsite 13, elevation 4650'

Miles today: 10.1. Total miles: 40.0

Possible bailout: Parson Branch Rd.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hike 0.7 miles on the Gregory Bald Trail to Gregory Bald, elevation 4750'

Hike 0.5 miles on the Gregory Bald Trail to the Gregory Ridge Trail, elevation 4600'

Hike 5.0 miles on the Gregory Ridge Trail to Parson Branch Road, elevation 2000'

End of hiking portion of trip

Possible bailout: Cades Cove

Miles today: 6.2. Total miles: 46.2

Shuttle back to Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Knoxville Airport, TN, 162 Cusick Rd, Alcoa, TN, 37701, 865-273-2800

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.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Free Hotel Breakfast

Take Free Airport Shuttle

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