Great Smoky Mountains Backpacking — Appalachian Trail

From: $680

per person dbl occ

Dates: Jun-Oct - see all dates

Total Days: 4

Activity Level: 4

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Monday–Friday,
7 AM to 5 PM Pacific Time

Great Smoky Mountains Backpacking — Appalachian Trail

Price:

2014

REI Member: $680

Non-member: $750

2015

REI Member: $700

Non-member: $775

Trip Dates:

2014

  • Jun 5–8 Sold out
  • Jun 12–15
  • Jun 19–22
  • Jun 26–29
  • Jul 3–6
  • Jul 17–20
  • Jul 24–27
  • Aug 29 – Sep 1
  • Sep 11–14
  • Sep 18–21
  • Sep 28 – Oct 1 Sold out
  • Oct 5–8
  • Oct 12–15 Sold out
  • Oct 19–22
  • Oct 26–29

2015

  • Jun 4–7
  • Jun 11–13
  • Jun 18–21
  • Jun 25–28
  • Jul 2–5
  • Jul 16–19
  • Aug 27–30
  • Sep 10–13
  • Sep 17–20
  • Sep 27–30
  • Oct 4–7
  • Oct 11–14
  • Oct 18–21

Or, book a
private departure.

Group Size: 4-6

Activity Level: 4

Activities:

  • Backpacking

Accommodations:

Primitive backcountry shelters, 3 nights

Trip Highlights

  • Backpack a stretch of the famed Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains
  • Stay at a series of primitive, backcountry shelters
  • Savor panoramic views, and walk among ancient trees
  • Hike 3.5–13 miles per day over high ridgelines, rocky outcroppings, and open forest
  • Follow expert guides who bring this majestic and historic terrain to life

The Appalachian Trail through the Great Smoky Mountains offers fantastic hiking paired with expansive mountain views. We backpack from one primitive shelter to the next on a short section of this classic route. Along the way we traverse high and narrow ridgelines, walk among some of the East´s most ancient trees, and spot diverse wildlife—all within the unique ecosystems of the Smokies.

Our expert guides offer instruction for those looking to learn backpacking techniques, low-impact hiking and camping, survival skills, history of the Cherokee, and identification of native plants and their uses. This is a challenging trip for experienced backpackers or very fit beginners.

The outstanding Smoky Mountains guide service A Walk in the Woods provides ground operations on our trip. Join us for a taste of the Appalachian Trail thru-hiker life!

Traveling with kids under 18? Check out our Great Smoky Mountains Family Backpacking Adventure .

Itinerary Summary

  • Day 1 - Welcome to Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
  • Day 2 - Today we backpack the most remote and diverse sections of trail in the Smokies.
  • Day 3 - The Appalachian Trail awaits and provides us the opportunity to experience life as a thru-hiker.
  • Day 4 - Cherish the last few hours spent among new friends along secluded trails in America's most visited national park.

See full itinerary

Trip Itinerary and Details

Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.

  • Day 1 - Welcome to Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

    Our trip begins today in beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We'll start our adventure between 9am and 11am depending on itinerary. After introductions to our fellow travelers and guides and an informational orientation to the weekend's adventure we'll caravan to the trail head and begin our exploration of this spectacular national treasure.

    Mileage: varies between 3 – 5.5 miles depending on specific route with +/- 1,500-3,000' elevation change..

  • Day 2 - Today we backpack the most remote and diverse sections of trail in the Smokies.

    Awaken to the symphony of the forest as we ease into our first day of life on the trail. Depending on our route we may find ourselves traversing the slopes of ancient Mount Guyot, the second highest peak in the Smokies, soaking in the spectacular views at Charles Bunion or working on our naturalist skills along some of the most remote trails in the eastern United States.

    Mileage: varies between 6.5 – 13 miles depending on specific route with +/- 1,500-3,000' elevation change..

  • Day 3 - The Appalachian Trail awaits and provides us the opportunity to experience life as a thru-hiker.

    We'll start this morning with a wholesome breakfast and fresh brewed coffee prepared by our amazing guides. Get ready for another day spent in awe as we hike among old growth Boreal forests and continue our journey along sections of the iconic Appalachian Trail. We'll get a feel for the thru-hiker experience and depending on our route may even have a chance to experience the most challenging sections of the AT in Great Smoky Mountains National Park today.

    Mileage: varies between 6 – 13 miles depending on specific route with +/- 1,500-3,000' elevation change..

  • Day 4 - Cherish the last few hours spent among new friends along secluded trails in America's most visited national park.

    Today's journey is bittersweet as we continue to soak in breathtaking views and panoramas along our last miles back to the trailhead. Regardless of our route, we'll cherish these last few hours spent in the remote corners of the United States' most visited national park with passionate guides and like-minded new friends. Flights out of Knoxville or Asheville can be scheduled after 7:00 p.m. Flights out of Charlotte can be scheduled after 9:00 p.m.

    Mileage: varies between 3-11 miles depending on specific route with +/- 1,500-3,000' elevation change.

Note on Itinerary

There are multiple routes that we may select from along the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains that will enable us to create a fantastic hut to hut hiking experience for guests, and we may utilize any of those options.  Our final route is determined by our guides and based on the availability of suitable shelter access and other factors which may be beyond our control.  Changes in the availability of shelters from one departure date to the next will necessitate changes to the shelters we use each night, changes to the route and to the number of miles that we hike each day.  Although we do our best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control.  This trip is operated rain or shine.

Important Information about Air Travel

Contact REI Adventures prior to purchasing your airline tickets to confirm the trip has the minimum number of participants required to operate.

Price Includes

All accommodations; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; professional instruction and guiding; group cooking gear; group first aid kit, water filter.

Not Included

Transportation from your hometown to group meeting point; park entrance fees where required, insurance of any kind; 2 lunches and snack items (see pack list for detailed guidance); alcoholic beverages; soft drinks; guide gratuities and items of a personal nature.

Closest Airport(s)

McGhee-Tyson Airport, Knoxville, TN; 79 miles; 1.5 hours
Asheville Airport, Asheville, NC; 75 miles; 1.5 hours
Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Charlotte, NC; 185 miles; 3.5 hours

Transfers

There is no reliable transfer service from any airport to our group’s meeting point.  Plan on renting a car if you are flying in for this Weekend Getaway.

Qualifications

This trip is rated Vigorous (4) as we plan to hike for 6-10 hours per day most days on steep, rocky, sometimes exposed terrain, gaining and/or losing up to just over 3,000 feet in elevation some days.  We will carry packs weighing 30-35 lbs while we hike as well.  To maximize your enjoyment of the trip we suggest that you engage in a regular exercise regimen beginning at least three months prior to your departure.  Most important to your enjoyment of the trip is your overall fitness level.

Weather

Daytime temperatures usually range between 50-75 degrees F, with evening temperatures dropping into the 20s - 50s. You may encounter freezing temperatures at some of the higher elevations. Afternoon thunderstorms are a distinct possibility, so adequate raingear is important.

Single Travelers

Single accommodations are not available for this trip. Shelters are shared by all members of the group.

General Information

This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Weekend Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and detailed pre-trip information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).

We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.

Great Smoky Mountains Backpacking — Appalachian Trail Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.

Gear Checklist

Provided Gear
  • Shelter (primitive shelters or tents if shelter space is unavailable)
  • Cooking gear
  • Stoves and fuel
  • Water filter
  • Group first aid kit
Backpacking Gear
  • Backpack: large internal frame or external frame (65 - 80 liters)
  • Pack cover – waterproof
  • Sleeping bag (rated at 20-25 degrees F)
  • Sleeping pad
Outerwear
  • Rain jacket and pants, lightweight waterproof and breathable
Clothing
  • Midweight fleece jacket or wool sweater
  • Mid- or lightweight thermal top and bottom made of synthetic or wool
  • Hiking pants, quick-drying, lightweight (zip-off legs are great) no jeans!
  • Hiking shorts, quick-drying, lightweight
  • 1-2 T-shirts, synthetic
  • 2 changes of underwear
  • Hiking socks, 2 pairs of wool or synthetic
  • Sock liners, 2 pairs of synthetic liners (optional)
Clothing Accessories
  • Sun hat with brim
  • Wool or fleece hat
  • Bandana
  • Lightweight wool or fleece gloves
Footwear
  • Hiking boots: heavy duty, waterproof, and well broken-in, should rise above ankle
Travel Accessories
  • Lunch items for each day (easily packable, non-perishable items, such as trail mix and energy bars as well as real foods like bagels and cheese, jerky, etc.)
  • Three 1-quart water bottles or hydration system equivalent
  • Headlamp with spare batteries
  • Plastic bowl, spoon, travel mug with lid
  • Sunglasses and retainer strap
  • Sunblock, (small amount—not the whole bottle), min SPF 25
  • lip balm (unscented)
  • Personal medications
  • Insect repellent (small)
  • Toothbrush & trial-sized paste
  • Pack towel and/or washcloth
  • Personal first aid kit, small and light with personal medication
  • Favorite energy snacks and drinks
  • Bic lighter
  • Travel size wet-wipes
  • Orange plastic trowel
  • TP system: toilet paper (not a full roll) & 1 Ziploc quart baggie & 1 Ziploc gallon baggie and orange plastic trowel
  • 1 large plastic garbage can bag
Optional Field Gear… think weight!
  • Trekking poles (highly recommended)
  • Pocket knife or small multi-tool
  • Compass
  • Map: Trails Illustrated Great Smoky Mountains
  • Ear plugs
  • Lightweight camp shoes/sandals
  • Journal & pen
  • Camera and accessories
  • Small paperback book
  • Swim suit
  • Down vest or jacket

Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
REI AdventuresGreat Smoky Mountains Backpack — Appalachian Trail
 
4.7

(based on 27 reviews)

96%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Exceeded expectations (23)
  • Guides (23)
  • Group camaraderie (19)
  • Well organized itinerary (19)
  • Activity level (18)

Cons

  • Activity level (3)

Best Uses

      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Casual adventurer (11), Avid adventurer (9), Casual/ recreational (7)
      • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
      • Destination (20), All the details planned for me (19), I liked the itinerary (19), Travel with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts (17), Active adventures (13)

    Reviewed by 27 customers

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    (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    There's always another Trail

    By RawHide

    from Round Rock, Texas

    About Me First-Time Adventurer

    Site Member

    Pros

    • Exceeded Expectations
    • Food
    • Guides
    • Learning Experience
    • Well Organized Itinerary

    Cons

    • Absolutely None

    Best Uses

      Comments about REI Adventures Great Smoky Mountains Backpack — Appalachian Trail:

      Before commenting on this trip (Oct 13- Oct 16, 2013), I'd like first to recognize and extend my sincere appreciation and thanks to REI's Adventure Specialists, to the guide service, and also to guides Michael and Charles for making this trip happen. Due to the National Park closures, Thank you very much DC!, I was absolutely certain this trip was destined to be cancelled as was with the other park tourists that were either turned away or booted out of the National Parks. Through last minute efforts of the guide service and their guides, Michael and Charles, an alternate October hiking route was selected, which took us from Max Patch Mountain to Hot Springs, North Carolina.

      Having never been to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park or even hiked on the AT, these guys made the trip absolutely great! What really impressed me with these guides is that they did "Everything" to make this trip as enjoyable as possible. Here's just one example of their dedication. It's getting dark and we're getting ready to call it a night and turn in, yet these guys are heading back on the trail at dusk, with their headlights, to locate a water source, collect, and filter the water for us in the morning! Just absolutely total dedication to the groups needs. Just plain "AWESOMENESS"!!

      Our revised hiking route took us from Max Patch Mountain, with its stunning views (see attached photos) along the Appalachian Trail as it crossed back and forth through parts of Tennessee and North Carolina.

      While conducting our equipment checklist before heading out "The Puking of our Packs" for nonessential gear, my spoon accidentally left behind with the other discarded gear, which was my fault for not double checking. Later that first night while preparing for dinner, I discovered "What no Spoon?" Charles came to the rescue and quickly selected an appropriate sized branch and whittled it into the perfect substitute spoon, which worked great the entire trip and still does. Thanks again Charles you did a great job!

      To summarize, would I schedule this trip again? Absolutely, but on the next trip, I'll be certain this spoon is hung around my neck before heading out! My many thanks and appreciation again goes out to the great folks at REI Adventures and the guides leading us to Hot Springs NC. It was indeed an adventure!

      • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
      • Commitment to Sustainability, Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
      • Why did you choose this trip?:
      • Wanted to experience backpacking on the Appalachian Trail and what it takes to accomplish the daily routine of "Hike, Eat, and Sleep"
      • What was the highlight of your trip?:
      • The backpacking and backcountry wilderness experience shared by the guides was like a walking classroom. There was so much to learn from the guides and so little time to absorb everything they had to share. The views from Max Patch Mountain were awesome!
      • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
      • I would first advise in getting physically in shape. Follow REI's training recommendations. Then make sure your boots are well broken in. Get a comfortable backpack to meet the load requirements, and practice packing and unpacking your gear so it becomes second nature on the trail. Also learn how to arrange your gear and adjusting your straps to optimize the comfort of your pack.

      (8 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Great trip, with great trail giudes

      By bds48088

      from Warren, MI

      About Me Casual Adventurer

      Site Member

      Pros

      • Exceeded Expectations
      • Food
      • Group Camaraderie
      • Guides
      • Well Organized Itinerary

      Cons

        Best Uses

          Comments about REI Adventures Great Smoky Mountains Backpack — Appalachian Trail:

          I'd do another REI trip in a heartbeat. We had wonderful guides in Eric and Zack, whose forest educational anecdotes and historical comments made the miles go faster. It was also great have a group of roughly similarly fit individuals who were able to keep together for the most part. Nature's beauty at the summit and from the trail along the way also made the trip worth it.

          I was also impressed by the REI trip coordinators, who quickly came up with a Plan B along the Appalachian Trail through the Nantahala National Forest from the same point of origin, after the numbskulls in Washington shut down the government. We still got to make our trip, which I suspect was every bit as impressive as the original plan would have been, albeit a bit more challenging.

          • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
          • All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
          • Why did you choose this trip?:
          • I was looking for something challenging that my girlfriend and I could enjoy together, but without overwhelming us with planning the details. We also wanted something with incredible vistas of nature's beauty, which the Smokey Mountain AT seemed to offer
          • What was the highlight of your trip?:
          • The views from the summit, seeing the clouds looking like the sea over the lower elevations. No picture could ever do that justice.
          • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
          • You really need to train and be in shape for this, lower body and core strength in particular. You can't be a couch potato starting this trip and have a good experience.

          (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Great Trip

          By Wannabe

          from Cincinnati

          About Me Avid Adventurer

          Site Member

          Pros

          • Activity Level
          • Exceeded Expectations
          • Food
          • Group Camaraderie
          • Guides
          • Once in a Lifetime Experience
          • Quality Equipment Provided
          • Well Organized Itinerary

          Cons

            Best Uses

              Comments about REI Adventures Great Smoky Mountains Backpack — Appalachian Trail:

              I rarely repeat trips, but I would definitely do this trip again.

              • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
              • Active Adventures, Commitment to Sustainability, Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary
              • Why did you choose this trip?:
              • My wife and I have been avid day hikers for years and decided we wanted to start backpacking. My wife didn't trust my skills leading an overnight trip, so I wanted to sign up for a REI trip. We couldn't have been more happy.
              • What was the highlight of your trip?:
              • The group. Our guides, Mike and Charles, as well as co-travelers Benton and Amy.

              (7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Connecting and Rejuvenating

              By BearDreamer

              from Chicago, IL

              About Me 29 Year Old Active Woman

              Pros

              • Activity Level
              • Exceeded Expectations
              • Great People
              • Group Camaraderie
              • Guides
              • Wildlife

              Cons

                Best Uses

                  Comments about REI Adventures Great Smoky Mountains Backpack — Appalachian Trail:

                  The guides are incredible. They intuit nature, and know how to maximize your time in the Smokies. I was blown away.

                  • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                  • Destination, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                  • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                  • Tracking wildlife, finding salamanders, playing and chatting with the group in the evenings, thunder reverberating through the mountains, beautiful vistas, experiencing silence, learning about the incredible ecosystem in the Smokies, seeing a bear, rediscovering and nurturing the playful, curious part of myself.
                  • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                  • Be ready to learn and find wonder. Not for those who want to blaze through as fast as possible, but for those who don't mind stopping to enjoy the experience as it unfolds. You'll still work hard, but they pace it so you're still having fun at the end of the day. For me, it was perfect.

                  (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  Amazing adventure it has it all

                  By atcgirl

                  from Alva Florida

                  Site Member

                  Comments about REI Adventures Great Smoky Mountains Backpack — Appalachian Trail:

                  Do this trip if you can. It is worth getting in shape for. The location speaks for its self.
                  If you do not like cold weather hiking go in the summer. It was cold and wet. but the right gear gets you through in great shape. The whole trip was super. The guides are unbelieveablely GREAT!!

                  • Why did you choose this trip?:
                  • Location mostly. The ATC trail always got my attention for it's beauty and ruggedness
                  • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                  • It can not be just one moment. The entire experience was the highlight.
                  • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                  • Be in great shape and have a good pack that fits.

                  (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  Great trip with great Guides

                  By JPC

                  from Illinois

                  About Me Casual Adventurer

                  Site Member

                  Pros

                  • Accommodations
                  • Activity Level
                  • Exceeded Expectations
                  • Group Camaraderie
                  • Guides
                  • Learning Experience
                  • Scenery
                  • Well Organized Itinerary

                  Cons

                  • Nothing Major

                  Best Uses

                    Comments about REI Adventures Great Smoky Mountains Backpack — Appalachian Trail:

                    Erik and Mike were great Guides and shared their passions for the Great Smoky Mountains NP. The weather was absolutely great - but I think we were lucky! On trail accommodations were good. The route was set by availability of the shelters which meant some days the walking was a little too short - but this is driven by outside factors. Highly recommended.

                    • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                    • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary
                    • Why did you choose this trip?:
                    • Opportunity to hike the AT and 1st backpacking trip
                    • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                    • Scenery
                    • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                    • Trekking poles were a good purchase and take ear plugs.

                    (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Along the Appalachian Trail

                    By NC Fiber Guy

                    from Durham, NC

                    About Me Casual Adventurer

                    Site Member

                    Pros

                    • Activity Level
                    • Food
                    • Guides
                    • Well Organized Itinerary

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                        Comments about REI Adventures Great Smoky Mountains Backpack — Appalachian Trail:

                        Our original itinerary was changed because of bear activity. The first night we slept in tents and the subsequent nights we slept in shelters along the Appalachian Trail. I enjoyed trying both options.

                        Jaimie and Michael were incredible guides. Their knowledge of the Smokey Mountains provided the group with great information. Their patience and ability to "read" the group needs and wants was right on target. They made sure we stayed hydrated and well fed, even when we might have forgotten to pack something on our list. They encouraged us to ask questions and made us feel as if there were no dumb questions. Finally, I really appreciated each mornings, high and low check-in. It proved to be a great time to reflect on the previous day, our accomplishments, and the diversity in what each of us experienced.

                        This trip has made me much more aware of the politics surrounding our national parks and the importance it is to advocate for these places of beauty and recreation. I went down to the visitors center and made a donation and I hope that REI does the same for its use of these great parks.

                        • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                        • Destination, Recommended by a Friend
                        • Why did you choose this trip?:
                        • There were three basic reasons I chose this trip. First it was recommended by a guide service located in Gatlinburg, TN. Second, it is relatively close to home so I could drive to the park. Finally, this was my first opportunity to hike along the Appalachian Trail.
                        • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                        • Charlies Bunion provides one of the most spectacular views of the park. But my favorite part of the hike was Albright Grove, an old growth forest with huge tulip trees and hemlocks. It felt as if ancient wisdom was beside you as you walked through the trees and looked at their trunks and the canopy they created.
                        • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                        • As others have suggested, some sort of conditioning would be good. The other thing is to be up front with the guides. Tell them some things you hope to learn and share with them any immediate problems you might have. They listened to all of our requests and helped make sure we were comfortable along the way.

                        (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        4.0

                        A Great Experience!

                        By Mary from Wrentham

                        from Wrentham, MA

                        About Me Avid Adventurer

                        Pros

                        • Exceeded Expectations
                        • Group Camaraderie
                        • Guides

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                            Comments about REI Adventures Great Smoky Mountains Backpack — Appalachian Trail:

                            Our guides Eric and Jamie were very accommodating, informational and pleasant to be around. Not only did we learn about the area, but also Eric taught me how to tie my boots on a descending trail hike. Our group got along very nicely. We were all considerate of each other and took turns leading.
                            Looking forward to another REI hiking adventure in the near future.

                            • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                            • Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary
                            • Why did you choose this trip?:
                            • I've never been to the Smokey Mountains and thought this would be a great way to learn about the area. I was right!
                            • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                            • We did an evening hike on a clear night and saw a beautiful sunset! The views on the Appalachian Trail were breathtaking.
                            • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                            • I would recommend REI Adventures to everyone. The guide service was exceptional!Very knowledgeable of the area. This was a historically informative hike. I would not miss the opportunity to hike the Smokeys in the fall.

                            (9 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

                             
                            5.0

                            Great guides, good pace

                            By javeret1

                            from Birmingham, AL

                            About Me Casual Adventurer

                            Site Member

                            Pros

                            • Activity Level
                            • Beautiful scenery
                            • Everything is planned
                            • Exceeded Expectations
                            • Group Camaraderie
                            • Outstanding guides
                            • Well Organized Itinerary

                            Cons

                              Best Uses

                                Comments about REI Adventures Great Smoky Mountains Backpack — Appalachian Trail:

                                This trip exceeded by expectations completely. Planning to go again soon!

                                • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                                • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Commitment to Sustainability, Destination, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                                • Why did you choose this trip?:
                                • I've always wanted to hike on the AT, but didn't want to go at it alone for the first time. So glad I didn't! The guides were great. I learned so much about the animals, plants, environment and history of the Smokies that I would have never learned on my own. The guides also had plenty of great tips (like how to tie your boots when hiking downhill).
                                • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                                • So many ... but the views from Clingsman Dome and Thunderhead Mountain were breathtaking as was the sunset from Spence Field. Gazing up into the Milky Way and watching passing satellites at night was unbelievable. Waking up one morning to the sound of rain hitting the ten roof of the shelter. The group camaraderie was fun too, getting to know new people from all walks of life.
                                • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                                • Condition yourself! This trip is not particularly strenuous, but you will enjoy it more if you have some time in carrying your backpack. Good, worn-in boots are a must too. The shelters weren't too noisy, but carry ear plugs if you are a light sleeper. Rain gear is a must too as it can get cool in the Smokies quickly. Bring a few little comforts, your favorite snack or hot chocolate.

                                (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                                 
                                4.0

                                Great trip and learning experience...

                                By kfarrell

                                from Iowa City, IA

                                About Me Early Thirties, First-Time Adventurer, Jazzercise Instructor, Software Engineer

                                Site Member

                                Pros

                                • Amazing Views
                                • Beautiful scenery
                                • Exceeded Expectations
                                • Group Camaraderie
                                • Guides
                                • Knowledgeable Guides
                                • Learning Experience
                                • Positive Attitudes
                                • Well Organized Itinerary

                                Cons

                                • Activity Level
                                • Less Challenging

                                Best Uses

                                  Comments about REI Adventures Great Smoky Mountains Backpack — Appalachian Trail:

                                  I was so impressed with our guides from [@], Erik and Mike, in terms of their knowledge, preparedness, positive and encouraging attitudes, and their sense of humor (albeit sometimes groan-worthy). Their presence definitely made the experience stress-free and gave us so much to learn. As much as the beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains lived up to my expectations, I was equally surprised how much fun I had getting to know our group and those we met along the way. The only very minor downside is that the actual backpacking was not as physically challenging as I had expected due to variations in the available shelters. Even so, I had a fantastic time and hope I have a chance to visit the Smokies again soon!

                                  • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                                  • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Commitment to Sustainability, Destination, Learn From Experts
                                  • Why did you choose this trip?:
                                  • To see Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Appalachian Trail, learn backpacking, and challenge myself physically.
                                  • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                                  • Sitting near the top of Old Black with gorgeous views and beautiful weather!
                                  • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                                  • Bring everything on the required gear checklist and pay special attention to backpack and shoes. I did and it was worth it! What I wish I had brought: a pillow, deodorant, and another pair of socks.

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