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Smoky Mountains - Suggestions for Day Hiking Gear

Gearing up for a smoky mountains national park visit in late November this fall. I mostly hike Southern California therefore I don't prepare for anything other than the sun 🙂 Plan to do 4-5 days of day hiking and looking for advice on boots/shoes, 1 jacket, and pants.

12 Replies

@AndrewRigby November is typically a good time to visit the Smoky Mountains! Temperatures will likely be much cooler than you're accustomed to in Southern California, so we're glad you've asked for suggestions! There's a ton of information we'd love to share in response but we don't want to post too much all at once, so we'll start with a few thoughts and resources:

  • Boots/shoes - a recommendation here is much more dependent on your feet than the place you're going (although some features will matter based on location). If possible, we'd highly recommend either visiting your local REI store or setting up a Virtual Outfitting appointment to help pick boots/shoes specific to your feet! For where you're headed and when, we'd likely advise selecting a waterproof boot/shoe; we like this Expert Advice article on choosing between boots and trail runners!
  • Jacket - layering will be essential, including a good rain layer and a good mid-layer (fleece or insulation) - also, make sure the layer against your skin is wicking and quick-drying. We carry a lot of great options in all of these categories - if you'd like some specific suggestions, feel free to reply back and tell us a little more about you!
  • Pants - there's a lot of personal preference when it comes to hiking pants - different brands fit different body types and there are some features (like zip-off) that folks are strongly for/against! For your trip, we'd definitely recommend a synthetic pant as there's a chance you'll encounter rain on one of your days of hiking and these will dry much more quickly than anything with cotton.

We hope this gets you started, noting that we are happy to provide more specific suggestions in each of the categories, if you're willing/able to provide a little more info about you!

@REI-ShannonO @REI-JackiH @REI-MattW @REI-AngieH - curious what y'all might add about the Smokies!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

I would take a gander at the park web site, especially this page,   which is kept current on trail closures and similar isuees.

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Hey @AndrewRigby! I'm so excited for your adventure! What's bringing you out to the Smokys?! Are you backpacking at all, or will you be able to experience lots of different areas of the park with day hikes? 

I would definitely say prepare for rain. The fall/winter in the southeast are incredibly wet, and the Smokys specifically get their name from how humid the environment is. That being said, it makes for some great photo ops if you wait out the sunshine. It will be a cold rain, too, so you'll want an insulating jacket, base layers, and a raincoat. Maybe even some gloves. Average lows are near freezing for this area in late November, but it feels colder in the south because of the humidity. If you're backpacking, don't forget to sleep with your water filter at night so it doesn't freeze. If you're day hiking, bring it in from the car each night. 

In late November, there's a possibility of snow. If you get to the Smokys and you realize you don't have enough cold weather gear, our Pigeon Forge store just opened last weekend! 

Since you only reached out regarding clothing, that leads me to believe you have your trip nailed down, but if you want any help trip planning, feel free to reach back out. I love helping people plan adventures! 😄 


Taken last June while waiting out a sunset rainstorm. 🙂 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hi @REI-AngieH, thank you so much for getting back to me. My girlfriend and I are coming for Thanksgiving and a wedding in my family in the Pigeon Forge area the same week. We are so excited. I have actually been a few times but never really done much real hiking because I didn't really have that interest in the years ago that I did visit. It was really cold and really wet those years! We will for sure stop by the REI store while on our visit. So I've found out I have adequate base layer, mid layer, rain layer, pants, but still need to go in and try on some boots because I know there is a very high chance it will be wet. 

Any trail recommendations would be greatly appreciated. We are just day hiking so anything under 15 miles is a yes from me.

for boots, I trail run in Hoka Speedgoats which are my absolute favorite hiking/trail-running shoe. However I'm thinking I have to get something for rain though


@AndrewRigby  Nice! Hoka's are my 'go to' all time favs for hiking/backpacking as well!

May I be so bold as to suggest looking into getting some waterproof socks, soooo much cheaper than getting boots! And then you get to wear your trusty hoka's!

And as a bonus, you can also just carry them in your day pack and pull them out if your feet get cold or wet.

I bought some this year, and am pleasantly surprised that they feel just like normal socks!

good luck!


REI Member Since 1979

@Philreedshikes I am shook!! I had no idea that was even a thing. Do You have a brand you recommend?


$17 So far so good


REI Member Since 1979

like @REI-AngieH said -  prepare for/expect rain, cold, wind.  You said you were day hiking, but night time temps into the low teens are not unusual for early season cold snaps.

REI Member Since 1979