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Great Smoky Mountains LeConte Lodge, NC/TN

Apr 9 - Apr 16, 2022 -- $1500 ★★, Only 1 Spot Left

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

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 has most everything the Smokies offer: wildflowers, virgin forest, balds with vistas, waterfalls, deep hollows, wildlife, Alum Cave and of course the historic LeConte Lodge.

Even if you have been on one of our Fatpacking trips through the Smokies before -- indeed even if you have been to LeConte Lodge -- you will want to join us again as this trek 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: we are not permitted to 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 and wildlife that abounds here and even 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 April 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
Beau Devlin


$1500 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 2 hotel nights, a night in LeConte Lodge (with sit-down dinner and breakfast), 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.


While all Fatpacking 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.


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.

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, April 9, 2022

Drive or fly into Asheville Airport (AVL). The best time to arrive is between around Noon-3PM, earlier is generally better. However, if you can save a substantial amount on your flight by arriving a few hours earlier or later than the suggested window, then do so. Asheville is a small airport so flights may be limited.

Call or text us and we will pick you up and take you to a local hotel Clarion Inn Asheville Airport , 550 Airport Road, Fletcher, NC 28732, 828-684-1213

Equipment shakedown

Trail mix distribution

Go to Diamond Brand Outdoor Shop , 2623 Hendersonville Rd. • Arden, NC 28704 • 800-459-6262 • 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 10, 2022

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 Smokemont frontcountry campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, elevation 2,250’

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

Begin hiking 1.8 practically level miles on an old railroad bed on the Bradley Fork Trail along the Bradley Fork of the Oconoluftee River to the Chasteen Creek Trail.

We will pass through an old CCC camp, cemeteries, and the former Bradley community.

Turn right and steadily ascend 2.4 miles on the Chasteen Creek Trail passing the Chasteen Creek cascade, a profusion of Spring wildflowers, and cross several feeder streams to the Upper Chasteen Creek, elevation 3320'

Camp at Upper Chasteen Creek, campsite #48. Elevation 3,320’.

Miles today: 4.2. Total miles: 4.2

Possible bailout: Route 441

Monday, April 11, 2022

Descend 2.4 miles on the Chasteen Creek Trail to the Lower Chasteen Creek, Campsite #50 (which we passed yesterday) and set up camp.

From camp, day-hike (no full packs) 0.5 miles on the Bradley Fork Trail to the junction of the Smokemont Loop trail crossing the Bradley Fork on an old log bridge

Ascend the side of Richland Mountain for scenic views and back down the other side of the ridge back to the Smokemont campground

We can take a side trail to the Bradley cemetery. Some of graves date back to the 18th century.

From Smokemont, we will return to camp by the Bradley Fork trail we took yesterday for a round trip-day hike of 5.5 miles.

Camp at Campsite 50, elevation 2360’

Miles today 8.4, total 12.6

Possible bailout: Route 441.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Resume a gentle hike beside the Bradley Fork of the Oconoluftee River on the Bradley Fork Trail for 3.7 miles to the intersection with the Cabin Flats Trail, elevation 2500'

Proceed 0.8 miles on the Cabin Flats Trail to the Cabin Flats campsite #49, elevation 3250'

Camp at campsite 49, elevation 3250'

Miles today: 5.2, total 17.8

Possible bailout: Highway 441

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Hike back 0.8 miles on the Cabin Flats Trail to the intersection with the Dry Sluice Gap Trail, elevation 3250'

Climb steadily (translation: difficult climb) for 2.9 miles on the Dry Sluice Gap trail, through several forest types until the trail levels briefly

Turn left on the Grassy Branch Trail and hike 2.5 miles to the Kephart Shelter elevation 3636'.

Camp at Kephart Shelter, elevation 3636'

Miles today: 6.2, total 24.0

Possible bailout: Highway 441

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Awaken before dawn to get an early start on a long day, and to make it to LeConte Lodge before sit-down dinner begins.

Climb 3.7 uphill (but graded) miles on the Sweat Heifer Trail. Yay, we're on the Appalachian Trail!

Hike 1.0 miles on the AT to the Boulevard Trail.

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 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: 11.1. Total miles: 35.1

Possible bailout: Highway 441

Friday, April 15, 2022

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: 40.6

Shuttle back to our local hotel Clarion Inn Asheville Airport , 550 Airport Road, Fletcher, NC 28732, 828-684-1213

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 16, 2022

Free Hotel Breakfast

We will drop you at the Airport

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