We meet our guides and fellow travelers this morning at the REI Asheville store. After an orientation and gear check, we take a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to the trailhead to begin our adventure. Our backpacking trip begins on the famous Mountains-to-Sea Trail. After setting up camp, we grab our daypacks and hike to Second Falls and Graveyard Fields with a glimpse of Upper Yellowstone Falls. Our night will be spent camping on the rocky banks of the Yellowstone Prong along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Backpacking 1.8 miles; 660' elevation gain, 230' elevation loss; Hiking 1.5 - 3.5 miles; cumulative elevation gain/loss; 140' - 360'
We wake to the sound of birds and the smell of fresh coffee. After breakfast at camp, we load our packs and head out on the Graveyard Ridge Trail. Although the trail is rocky and rugged, views into the Shining Rock Wilderness and the river valley below make the effort worth it. We continue on our quest for spectacular views through the day, finally reaching the highest point at Black Balsam Knob. As we make our way to our home away from home, we hike along a former railroad bed on the Sam's Knob Trail while passing picturesque meadows and meandering creeks.
Backpacking 7.6 miles; 1200’ elevation gain, 600’ loss
After breakfast at camp, we load our packs and continue along our route. Appalachian peaks appear as rolling waves while tendrils of wispy clouds float skyward, resembling the warm campfires of yesteryear. Diverse terrain and spectacular viewpoints are a source of inspiration for visitors. It's not uncommon for visitors to start planning a through hike along the 1175-mile trail after visiting. Eventually we return to the Art Loeb Trail along Shuck Ridge where we navigate a rocky and steep descent before crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our camp this evening is Deep Gap Shelter where we spend our final night.
Backpacking 5.1 miles; 1725’ elevation loss, 977’ elevation gain
Following breakfast we begin our climb up the narrow and beautiful summit of Pilot Mountain. If weather is on our side, we're rewarded with panoramic views into Tennessee and South Carolina. Our day concludes with a trek down Gloucester Gap, where we'll take our time navigating through the steep and rugged terrain. Back at the trailhead, our shuttle awaits and we make our way back to Asheville. We anticipate arriving back in Asheville late this afternoon. Please note that this time may vary depending on trail conditions; weather; group pace; traffic; and other factors beyond our control.
Backpacking 3 miles; 800’ elevation gain, 1200’ elevation loss