Great Smoky Mountains Adventure

Trip Length4 Days
Group Size4–12
Activity level
Starting from
$2,499 for REI Members
$2,749 for non-members
DeparturesJun 2024-Oct 2025

This 4-day adventure brings you face to face with the many facets and hidden wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Your experience begins amidst misty valleys dotted with homesteads. Trees tower above the forest floor and waterfalls cascade down lush hillsides. We hike the park's most beloved paths-including the iconic Appalachian Trail-and explore moonshine caves and old Civil War roads. For thrills, we raft down the rollicking Class II and III rapids of the Nantahala River and soar high above the forest floor on a mountaintop zip line tour.

Each night our private deluxe REI Signature Camp awaits. Scrumptious meals next to cozy campfires and stories shared under a starlit sky create memories to last a lifetime. Finally, the warmth of a cozy sleeping bag beckons and we fall asleep to the sounds of the forest.

This is a great trip for adults and fit, older teens. If you're traveling with younger children, check out our Great Smoky Mountains Family Adventure.

The smell of a campfire and tasty classic treats await.

Trip Highlights

  • Hike through an International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage site
  • Raft down Class II and III rapids on the Nantahala river
  • Soar above the trees on a two mile mountain-to-mountain zipline course
  • Enjoy stargazing and comfortable accommodations at our exclusive Signature Camp

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. Trip members should be capable of hiking 5-8 hours each day (up to 11 miles) with as much as 3,000' elevation gain and loss. Zip-lining is suitable for beginners. Weight ranges for zip-lining are 60 pounds minimum and 250 pounds maximum. Rafting is suitable for beginners although comfort in/around water is recommended. Rafting is on rapids classified II-IV whitewater.

  • Hiking

What's Included

Any park or other admission fees or permits, Guides and Camp Host; Round trip transportation from Gatlinburg, TN to all destinations visited during the trip; Rafting gear, including wetsuits; all meals and snacks from lunch on day 1 through lunch on day 4.

Accommodations

REI Signature Camping, 3 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for Great Smoky Mountains Adventure
Day 1

Welcome to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Meet your guides and fellow traveling companions this morning in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. After introductions and a trip orientation we'll hop aboard our provided shuttle for a quick transfer to our first trailhead. The Cucumber Gap Loop is a perfect introduction to the rich biodiversity, beauty, and history of the Great Smoky Mountains. This hike takes place along an old logging railroad that passes old homesteads and small waterfalls. Plenty of small stream crossings enliven our walk. At the end of the day, our friendly camp host welcomes us to Signature Camp where we enjoy a barbecue dinner around a roaring campfire. All meals included.

Hiking: 5.4 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +800'/-800'; Transfers: 1.5 hours

Day 2

Hike the AT in route to breathtaking views at the summit of Mount Cammerer

After a tasty backcountry breakfast, we transfer to Low Gap Trailhead for an out-and-back hike to the summit of Mount Cammerer. A series of switchbacks climbs 2,000 feet through beautiful hardwood forest before joining the famous Appalachian Trail. We let the famous white blaze lead the way as our guides share stories of intrepid travelers who have hiked the over 2,000 miles of trail from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME. Our reward is the summit of Mount Cammerer, with its 360-degree views of the majestic Smoky Mountains. Our day finishes at our comfortable Signature Camp where we enjoy another scrumptious dinner. All meals included.

Hiking: 11 miles; 3,000' elevation gain/loss; Transfers: 1 hours

Day 3

Explore historical artifacts and climb to a mountain vista

Our mission today is to explore a unique section of trails; home to the largest collection of human artifacts in the National Park system. Walk along a beautiful mountain stream through an old growth forest. Climb to one of the most picturesque mountain vistas with expansive views of breathtaking rock formations. Our celebration of this spectacular region continues as we head back for a tasty meal around a roaring campfire. We'll spend our final evening together sharing stories and reflecting on our last few days of adventure. All meals included.

Hiking: 4.5-6 miles; 1,000-1,500' elevation gain and loss; Transfers: 2 hours

Day 4

Soar along a mountaintop zipline and float down the beautiful Nantahala River

An approximately two hour drive gets us to the Nantahala Outdoor Center. The NOC is a mecca for outdoor adventure and located at the intersection of the Appalachian Trail and the Nantahala River. After three days of exploring on foot, we take to the air to experience the park from above. We soar mountaintop to mountaintop along two adrenaline pumping miles of premier zip-line. Next we load into whitewater rafts to enjoy a fun, Class II and III ride down the scenic Nantahala River. After rounding out our exploration of the Great Smoky Mountains by land, sky and water we make our way back to Gatlinburg. We expect to arrive back in Gatlinburg early this evening. Breakfast and lunch included.

Inclement weather may impact the accessibility of the zip-lining course. If this is the case, we may substitute the NOC's adventure rope course for the zip-lining activity. In the event of lightening all aerial courses will be closed.

Zip-lining: 2 miles; Time: 2-3 hours; Whitewater Rafting: 8 miles; Time: 3 hours; Transfers: 4 hours

Itinerary map for Great Smoky Mountains Adventure

Gear List

We provide

  • All Group Cooking Gear
  • Camp Furniture
  • Cots and Sleeping Pads
  • Group First Aid Kit
  • Stoves and Fuel
  • Tent(s)
  • Trekking Poles
  • Wetsuits and PFDs

What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1 (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales ( 1 (800) 426-4840 ) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

Trip specifics may change over time. Reviews reflect the version of the trip that was active at the time the reviewer took it. Please review the itinerary as described above and call our team for any additional details.