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GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, TENNESSEE

A Hiking Adventure in the Great Smoky Mountains

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Road Scholar
Program #2263RJ
6 Days | 5 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Challenging
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Equipment Requirements
Appropriate outdoor clothing and personal hiking gear.

Itinerary for Apr 7 — Apr 12, 2013

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Type: Campus/Dorm

Description: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is located within Great Smoky Mountains National Park which consists of over a half a million acres and 900+ miles of hiking trials.

Contact info:
9275 Tremont Road
Townsend, TN 37882 USA
phone: 865-448-6709
web: www.gsmit.org

Room amenities: The dormitory consists of four separate open dormitories, each with their own bathroom. There are separate sections for men and women. Private accommodations are not available on site. The dormitory is heated and air conditioned.

Facility amenities: Heated and air conditioned dormitories, dining hall, classrooms, outdoor meeting spaces, book store, library, hiking trails, excellent fly fishing, great swimming holes, hearty meals, the unparalleled beauty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Bathroom: Shared bathroom with private showers and bathroom stalls

Additional nights before:
Due to the numbers of groups hosted by GSMIT, we are unable to offer accommodation before the program begins or after it ends.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day One: Sunday, April 07 - Orientation and Expectations
Afternoon: Arrive between 3pm and 5pm

Dinner: Dinner served in Dining Hall.

Evening: Introductions Expectations for the week Sign-up for hikes (choice of 3 hikes each day) Social

Lodging: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Meals Included: Dinner
Type: Campus/Dorm

Description: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is located within Great Smoky Mountains National Park which consists of over a half a million acres and 900+ miles of hiking trials.

Contact info:
9275 Tremont Road
Townsend, TN 37882 USA
phone: 865-448-6709
web: www.gsmit.org

Room amenities: The dormitory consists of four separate open dormitories, each with their own bathroom. There are separate sections for men and women. Private accommodations are not available on site. The dormitory is heated and air conditioned.

Facility amenities: Heated and air conditioned dormitories, dining hall, classrooms, outdoor meeting spaces, book store, library, hiking trails, excellent fly fishing, great swimming holes, hearty meals, the unparalleled beauty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Bathroom: Shared bathroom with private showers and bathroom stalls

Additional nights before:
Due to the numbers of groups hosted by GSMIT, we are unable to offer accommodation before the program begins or after it ends.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day Two: Monday, April 08 - First Hiking Day
Breakfast: Breakfast in Dining Hall.

Morning: Great Smokies Hiking Option

Spruce Flats/Lumber Ridge, moderate, 8 miles

This loop hike will begin and end at Tremont. You will start out on the Falls Trail with the highlight being Spruce Flats Falls, a 40-foot waterfall that may very well be the beauty of the Smokies. The one-mile between the falls and Tremont is a slightly treacherous trail with some steep sections and spots requiring careful footing. We will pass by the Greenbriar Fault twice during this part of the hike and spend some time talking about the geological forces behind the formation of the Smokies. Up over the falls, we go on an unmaintained trail that used to be a railroad bed. It is now grown over with rhododendrons so be ready to duck a few times, and scramble over fallen trees. It meanders along Spruce Flats Branch, which we may need to rock-hop across several times with gentle ups and downs in terrain. At about halfway, we might stop at Buckhorn Gap for lunch. The remainder of the hike is along the Lumber Ridge Trail down through a hardwood forest of second growth. It is mostly down hill going past some rock outcrops and providing an occasional view through the trees. You will walk right back into Tremont behind the dormitory

Morning: Great Smokies Hiking Option

Ramsay Cascades, strenuous, 8 miles

This is a popular walk alongside the Ramsay Prong of the Little Pigeon River. This hike is strenuous due to length and rocky terrain. It is a steady climb starting out along an old jeep trail and becoming a footpath surrounded by a wide variety of plant life. Moss and lichen cover everything. Between the first and second of the log bridges are some of the largest specimens of trees in the park. This trail also passes through some impressive boulder fields, climbing steadily as it winds back and forth across streams (most have footbridges or should be easy to rock-hop) until the Cascades are reached. These are the highest falls in the Park which are accessible by trail. Vertical rise is 2250 feet in 4 miles.

Morning: Great Smokies Hiking Option

Jakes Creek/Cucumber Gap/Little River Loop, easy, 5.1 miles

This is one of the finest short loops in the park. After passing many historic Elkmont structures, the trail begins a gentle ascent through a second growth hardwood forest. The gold and crimson of fall surrounds you as you ascend to Cucumber Gap. We will focus on tree and plant identification as well as general natural history while walking this beautiful trail. The trail descends to the Little River, through more beautiful forest and crosses rollicking Huskey Branch. The last 2.3 miles of our hike will be along-side the Little River. This section is as flat as you can get in the mountains and offers fantastic river views and new plants to behold. Vertical Rise: 500 feet in 1.5 miles.

Lunch: Sack lunch on trail

Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm

Dinner:

Evening: Presentations, music, storytelling, or other entertainment

Lodging: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Campus/Dorm

Description: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is located within Great Smoky Mountains National Park which consists of over a half a million acres and 900+ miles of hiking trials.

Contact info:
9275 Tremont Road
Townsend, TN 37882 USA
phone: 865-448-6709
web: www.gsmit.org

Room amenities: The dormitory consists of four separate open dormitories, each with their own bathroom. There are separate sections for men and women. Private accommodations are not available on site. The dormitory is heated and air conditioned.

Facility amenities: Heated and air conditioned dormitories, dining hall, classrooms, outdoor meeting spaces, book store, library, hiking trails, excellent fly fishing, great swimming holes, hearty meals, the unparalleled beauty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Bathroom: Shared bathroom with private showers and bathroom stalls

Additional nights before:
Due to the numbers of groups hosted by GSMIT, we are unable to offer accommodation before the program begins or after it ends.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day Three: Tuesday, April 09 - Second Hiking Day
Breakfast: Breakfast in Dining Hall.

Morning: Great Smokies Hiking Option

Indian Flats Falls, easy to moderate, 7.5 miles roundtrip

This hike begins at the end of Tremont Road where Old Tremont, the 1920s logging town, once stood. The Middle Prong Trail follows an old railroad grade along beautiful Lynn Camp Prong. In places the trail somewhat rocky. Panther Falls can be seen within the first mile. At 3.0 miles there's evidence of the old CCC dining hall and a furnace. Further up the trail crosses Indian Flats Prong on a wide bridge. Railroad switchbacks climb the ridge here. Less than half a mile up is a short side trail to Indian Flats Falls. There's four falls in all that drop 65 feet and run 170 feet. The falls are beautiful, however they serve another wonderful purpose, swimming. Folks hiking this route may want to bring a bathing suit and towel to take advantage of a cool dip before the hike back down. Elevation gain: 1100 feet.

Morning: Great Smokies Hiking Option

Roundtop Trail, moderate, 7.5 miles

Enjoy the solitude of one of the least-used trails in the Great Smokies. Round Top is a beautiful, classic Smoky Mountains hike that will lead us around Roundtop and Little Roundtop Mountains. Lovely, deep valleys, views into Wear Cove, and interesting rock outcrops add to this already pleasant hike. Elevation gain is 850 feet. Interestingly, the end of the hike may be more exciting than the beginning. Roundtop Trail emerges on the opposite side of the Little River from the Wye parking lot. Participants in this hike will have to ford the river to return to the vehicle. Depending on the water levels, this ford could be ankle or hip deep…a refreshing way to end a wonderful hike. Please pack shoes that can get wet. After crossing the river you will return to Tremont for a change of shoes and maybe a hot cup of coffee.

Morning: Great Smokies Hiking Option

Gregory Bald, strenuous, 10.8 miles

This is one of the finest hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains. This hike is strenuous due to length and very steep uphill and downhill portions of the trail. The journey up Gregory Ridge to Gregory Bald offers you everything that makes the Smokies such a wonderful place: scenic views, wildflowers, old growth forest. It is a steady climb to the bald but well worth it. The bald has been a large open field for as long as white settlers have been in these mountains. No one is sure how grass balds were formed. Theories include Indian development, lightning strikes and even animal grazing. The National Park maintains this bald to preserve the historic and biological uniqueness. Vertical rise is 2500 feet in 5 miles.

Lunch: Sack lunch on trail

Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm

Dinner:

Evening: Presentations, music, storytelling, or other entertainment

Lodging: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Campus/Dorm

Description: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is located within Great Smoky Mountains National Park which consists of over a half a million acres and 900+ miles of hiking trials.

Contact info:
9275 Tremont Road
Townsend, TN 37882 USA
phone: 865-448-6709
web: www.gsmit.org

Room amenities: The dormitory consists of four separate open dormitories, each with their own bathroom. There are separate sections for men and women. Private accommodations are not available on site. The dormitory is heated and air conditioned.

Facility amenities: Heated and air conditioned dormitories, dining hall, classrooms, outdoor meeting spaces, book store, library, hiking trails, excellent fly fishing, great swimming holes, hearty meals, the unparalleled beauty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Bathroom: Shared bathroom with private showers and bathroom stalls

Additional nights before:
Due to the numbers of groups hosted by GSMIT, we are unable to offer accommodation before the program begins or after it ends.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day Four: Wednesday, April 10 - Third Day Hiking
Breakfast: Breakfast in Dining Hall.

Morning: Great Smokies Hiking Options:

Rich Mountain Loop, strenuous, 7.5 miles.

This circular walk provides fine views of Cades Cove starting on the Rich Mountain Loop Trail and ending on the Crooked Arm Branch Trail. The trail starts out through woods alongside one of the beautiful cove pastures, crossing and following the creek until it turns away to run in a series of switchbacks up the side of Rich Mountain. Along this steady rise, there are several fine views of the Cove. The trail then follows a service road close to the northern border of the park. It feels like a boulevard with great views once again. The autumn colors could be really spectacular. The downward trek becomes steep, rocky and chopped up by use for horses. The trail crosses three small streams and follows down the third. You come out near the John Oliver place built in 1820. After some exploring, continue on the trail back to the starting point. Vertical rise is 1766 feet, gains 1500 feet within the first mile then follows contours gradually rising to the summit. Return is similar by a different route.

Morning: Great Smokies Hiking Option

Charlies Bunion, moderately strenuous (very rocky), 8 miles

This is another high country hike with great views. The hike starts on the Appalachian Trail at Newfound Gap. At first, the hike is a steady, gradual climb on a section of the AT that gets used a great deal. The views are great and the Canadian forest a nice change from lower elevations as you walk up the slopes of Mount Kephart. The trail is rocky and you need to use caution if it is wet. Vertical rise is 990 feet in the first 2.7 miles.

Morning: Great Smokies Hiking Option:

Abrams Falls, easy to moderate, 5 miles

This "yo-yo" hike presents an opportunity to see the largest and most popular waterfall in the park. The trail begins at the far western end of Cades Cove near the location of old farm pastures. A bridge crosses Abrams Creek here and four additional footlogs follow. The trail undulates for the next 2.5 miles until it reaches the falls. The highest rise (200 feet) is Arbutus Ridge. An excellent photograph opportunity, Abrams Falls is 25 feet high and 35 feet wide emptying into a pool of dark green water nearly 100 feet in length. In addition to the falls, this hike presents one of the lowest elevation trails in the Park. The return trip follows the same route. Vertical rise: 200 feet.

Lunch: Sack lunch on trail

Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm

Dinner:

Evening: Presentations, music, storytelling, or other entertainment

Lodging: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Campus/Dorm

Description: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont is located within Great Smoky Mountains National Park which consists of over a half a million acres and 900+ miles of hiking trials.

Contact info:
9275 Tremont Road
Townsend, TN 37882 USA
phone: 865-448-6709
web: www.gsmit.org

Room amenities: The dormitory consists of four separate open dormitories, each with their own bathroom. There are separate sections for men and women. Private accommodations are not available on site. The dormitory is heated and air conditioned.

Facility amenities: Heated and air conditioned dormitories, dining hall, classrooms, outdoor meeting spaces, book store, library, hiking trails, excellent fly fishing, great swimming holes, hearty meals, the unparalleled beauty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Bathroom: Shared bathroom with private showers and bathroom stalls

Additional nights before:
Due to the numbers of groups hosted by GSMIT, we are unable to offer accommodation before the program begins or after it ends.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day Five: Thursday, April 11 - Fourth Day Hiking
Breakfast: Breakfast in Dining Hall.

Morning: Great Smoky Hiking Options:

Mt. LeConte: Boulevard/LeConte/Alum Cave, strenuous, 13 miles

Mount LeConte at 6593 feet is the third highest peak within the park. Climbing the mountain is a traditional trip for many enthusiastic hikers but to make it up and back in a day is very strenuous for those unaccustomed to hiking. The hike starts on the Appalachian Trail at Newfound Gap; a focal point for most people who visit the Smokies, especially those who have time only to make a few stops and admire the overall beauty of these mountains. This portion of the hike is a steady, gradual climb through the Canadian forest with good views. The Boulevard Trail is a rolling trail following a narrow ridge with steep forested slopes on both sides. The trail is very steep at the final ascent to the top. Vertical rise is 1080 feet in 7.8 miles.

Alum Cave Trail is fairly strenuous, and mostly down hill, but the easiest return from the summit. The upper portion includes a narrow cleft across a steep open slope with cables for hand holds. The lower portion includes Alum Cave Bluff and Arch Rock with a pleasant, meandering walk along Alum Cave Creek. Geological interests, great views, groves of rhododendron and laurel and creek crossings (on bridges) make for a good hike. Vertical fall is 2560 feet in 5.5 miles.

Morning: Great Smoky Hiking Option

Turkeypen Ridge/Schoolhouse Gap/Bote Mountain/West Prong, moderate (due to length), 8.4 miles

Enjoy the hike that leads you through a variety of forest types. Begin your hike on Turkeypen Ridge Trail and descend into Big Spring Cove, where you will see remnants of early farming. Turkeypen Ridge Trail undulates gently up and down for the next three miles, as it passes in and out of the dry and moist forests. Good views of Thunderhead Mountain and lovely large Chestnut Oaks are your companions on this quiet, intimate hike. Soon you will meet the wide, old roadbed that is Schoolhouse Gap Trail. Descend gradually on this trail until you reach Laurel Creek Road. Here you will cross and begin an ascent up Bote Mountain Trail until its intersection with West Prong Trail. Descend on West Prong until you reach the river and lovely backcountry campsite #18, a great place for lunch. After leaving the river you will ascend the flanks of Fodderstack Mountain for less than a mile before beginning the long, easy descent to Tremont. Never difficult, this is a great "walk in the woods".

Morning: Great Smoky Hiking Options:

Andrew's Bald, easy-moderate, 3.6 miles

This is a beautiful high-country walk to a bald that is more accessible than the other balds in the park. The slope down into the bald is an easy but rocky walk that requires close attention. You will be walking downhill for the first mile, then across a level saddle with some up hill again to get to the bald. The spruce and fir forest here is characteristic at this 6300 foot elevation when suddenly you come into a grassy, open hilltop. We will spend some time exploring and enjoying the bald along with the views of the national forests of North Carolina and Georgia. Coming back is a steady climb. If time and interest allow, we will go up to the observation tower at Clingmans Dome.

Lunch: Sack lunch on trail

Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm

Dinner:

Evening: Presentations, music, storytelling, or other entertainment

Lodging: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day Six: Friday, April 12 - Friday/Departure
Breakfast:

Morning: Depart by 9:00 am

Meals Included: Breakfast

Important information about your itinerary:
Please know that while we do everything we can to finalize all aspects of our programs well in advance, there are logistics that occasionally must be altered. Our website will reflect the most recent information, and we are committed to providing you with final program details no later than eight weeks prior to the start of programs outside the U.S. and three weeks prior to the start of programs within the U.S. If you ever have questions about your program, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.
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5 nights of accommodations
14 meals: 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners
2 Expert-led lectures
24 Field trips
12 Hands-on experiences
2 Performances

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