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Great Smoky Mountains Trip 2, NC

SOLD OUT! (Put me on the waiting list)

Oct 24 - Oct 31, 2021 -- $1300 ★★

Even if you have been on one of our Fatpacking 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). 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.

Beginning and ending on Round Bottom Road, we will head up to the Appalachian Trail and spend two nights in AT shelters. This particular route circumnavigates the largest, trailless section of wilderness in the Park.....the Raven Fork/Straight Fork wilderness. Your guide will regale you with numerous stories of former trails in the area, Cherokee history, geology, moonshine history and mishap, and perhaps a few tall tales.

The park also features an abundance of wildlife including deer, elk, wild boar and black bears. 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?


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 60s and 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 October 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
2nd Guide TBD


$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 any 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, campsite fees 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.


This is the 2nd of 2 Fatpacking trips to the Great Smoky Mountains in 2021. Here is a link to the earlier trip.

Our route crosses creeks and streams several times. There are usually bridges, but there may be 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 Fatpacking trips are difficult, this one might be considered somewhat more attainable than others because of relatively gradual elevation changes and solid footing, even if mileages are a little longer.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021

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 especially because flights to Asheville may be limited.

Take the free airport shuttle to Wingate by Wyndham Asheville Airport, 31 Airport Park Rd, Fletcher, NC 28732, 828-684-4311

Equipment shakedown. We go through all the items in your pack to make sure you are prepare for the trail

Trail mix distribution, pending Covid

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

"Before" measurements taken

Body temperature taken to assess Covid risk

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

Monday, October 25, 2021

Second set of "before" measurements taken

Second body temperature taken to assess Covid risk

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

Free Hotel Breakfast

Check out of hotel

Shuttle to Beech Gap trailhead at Round Bottom on Straight Fork Road. Elevation 3,200'.

Climb 2.8 miles on the Beech Gap Trail to the junction with the Hyatt Ridge Trail.

Gently descend 1.7 miles on the Hyatt Ridge Trail through a geological window of garnet gneiss to the junction with the Enloe Creek Trail .

Descend 1.0 miles on the Enloe Creek Trail through the Raven Fork Gorge across the Raven Fork River to the Enloe Creek campsite, #47. Elevation 3,600'.

Miles today = 5.5. Total miles = 5.5.

Possible bailout Round Bottom.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Climb 2.5 miles on the Enloe Creek Trail out of the Raven Fork Gorge along Enloe Creek past several cascades to the Hughes Ridge Trail. There is one shallow ford on this section of the trail.

Turn right onto the Hughes Ridge Trail and ascend the gently undulating ridge 4.1 miles to the Pecks Corner shelter.

Camp at Pecks Corner shelter just downhill from the Appalachian Trail. Bruce will tell you about the blizzard of 1955 here. Elevation 5,400'.

Miles today = 6.6. Total miles = 12.1

Possible bailout is Smokemont, but it's not that close.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Ascend 0.4 mile on the Hughes Ridge Trail to the junction with the AT.

Turn right on the AT and hike 5.3 undulating miles to the Tricorner Knob shelter on the AT. Elevation = 6,000'.

Camp at the Tricorner Knob Shelter, elevation 5920'

Miles today = 5.7. Total miles = 17.8

Possible Bailout: One day away

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Turn right off the AT onto the Balsam Mountain Trail and hike 5.9 of the mostly level, then gently descending high altitude miles to be found in the Smokies to the Laurel Gap Shelter. Elevation 5,400'.

Camp at Laurel Gap Shelter, elevation 5400'

Total miles today = 5.9. Total miles = 23.7

Possible Bailout: Round Bottom

Friday, October 29, 2021

Descend 2.0 miles on the Balsam Mountain Trail to the junction of the Beech Gap Trail.

Descend 2.5 miles on the Beech Gap Trail to Round Bottom where we will re-supply

Walk 0.3 mile on the Straight Fork Road to the second Beech Gap trailhead

Ascend 2.8 miles on the Beech Gap Trail as we did on Monday to the junction with the Hyatt Ridge Trail.

Turn Right on the Hyatt Ridge Trail for 0.9 miles to the McGee Spring campsite #44. Elevation 5,000'.

Camp at campsite 44, McGee Spring, elevation 5000'

Miles today = 8.5. Total miles = 32.2

Possible Bailout: Round Bottom

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Descend 0.9 miles on the Hyatt Ridge Trail to the Beech Gap Trail.

Descend 2.8 miles on the Beech Gap Trail to Round Bottom Road, then 0.3 miles to our vehicles.

End of hiking

Miles today = 4.0. Total miles = 36.2

Shuttle back to Wingate by Wyndham Asheville Airport, 31 Airport Park Rd, Fletcher, NC 28732, 828-684-4311

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.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Free hotel breakfast

Take the free airport shuttle

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