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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 Oct 6 — Oct 11, 2013

Expand all
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, October 06 - Orientation and Expectations
Afternoon: Arrive between 3pm and 5pm

Dinner: 6:00

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, October 07 - First Hiking Day
Breakfast: 6:30 Ramsey Cascade group 8:00 Finley Cane & Spruce Flats groups

Morning: Ramsey Cascades, strenuous, 8 miles This is a popular walk alongside the Ramsey 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 becomes a footpath surrounded by a wide variety of plant life. Moss and lichen cover everything. Between the first and second of the log bridges you’ll see some of the largest 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 accessible by trail. Vertical rise is 2,250 feet in 4 miles.

Morning: Finley Cane/West Prong Trails, easy, 6 miles This short, wonderful hike is a favorite of many of our staff. No giant climbs or extraordinary views exist along the way; instead you will find many small surprises on this enjoyable woodland walk. Visit sink holes along Finley Cane Trail, see some big trees and a variety of forest types, enjoy the rollicking waters of the West Prong, and finish with a long easy descent right back into Tremont’s campus. One of the most pleasant easy hikes in the park according to many. Vertical rise is 400 feet.

Morning: 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 has some narrow and steep sections in places and at times requires careful footing. We will pass by the Greenbrier 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 downhill, going past some rock outcrops and providing an occasional view through the trees. You will walk right back into Tremont behind the dormitory. Total vertical fall on the Lumber Ridge Trail is approximately 1,300 feet in 3 miles.

Lunch: Sack lunch on trail

Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm

Dinner: 6:00

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, October 08 - Second Hiking Day
Breakfast: 6:30 Rocky Top group 8:00 Indian Flats & Rich Mountain groups

Morning: Rocky Top (& Spence Field) via Lead Cove, strenuous, 12 miles We will climb 5.1 miles up to the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), gaining 3,000 feet in elevation along the way. Spence Field resides less than a half-mile away from the A.T. junction with Bote Mountain Trail. It is considered by many to be the premier spot along the crest of the Smokies. This high mountain grassy bald affords views into North Carolina and is a wonderful, quiet place to spend some time. For those who wish to press on, Rocky Top lies one mile to the east on the A.T. (500 additional feet). Whether you choose to stay at Spence Field or continue hiking to Rocky Top, you’re sure to soak up great views of the Smokies while eating lunch and resting for the journey back down the mountain. Good weather days afford views of Thunderhead Mountain, Fontana Lake and more. Vertical rise and fall is 3,000 feet in 5.2 miles.

Morning: Indian Flats Falls, easy-moderate, 7.5 miles 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 is somewhat rocky. Lynn Camp Cascades can be seen within the first mile. Further up, the trail crosses Indian Flats Prong on a wide bridge. Railroad switchbacks climb the ridge here. Less than half a mile past the bridge is a short side trail to Indian Flats Falls, tucked into the mountain. There are four falls in all that drop 65 feet and run 170 feet. The falls are beautiful and provide a swimming opportunity before the return hike – but only for those willing to brave chilly temperatures! Vertical rise: 1,100 feet.

Morning: Rich Mountain Loop, moderate, 8.5 miles This clockwise loop provides fine views of Cades Cove starting on the Rich Mountain Loop Trail and ending on the Crooked Arm Branch Trail. The trail begins in woods adjacent to one of the beautiful cove pastures. After meeting up with the John Oliver homeplace, constructed around 1820, the trail turns away from the old pastures and runs in a series of switchbacks up the side of Rich Mountain. Along this steady rise there are several fine views of Cades Cove. The trail then follows the contour of the ridge close to the northern border of the park on a boulevard that once more grants fine views. The downward trek becomes steep, rocky and chopped up by use of horses. Eventually the trail meets up near where you began and concludes with a fairly level half-mile stretch that returns to the starting point. Vertical rise: 1800 feet.

Lunch: Sack lunch on trail

Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm

Dinner: 6:00

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, October 09 - Third Day Hiking
Breakfast: 6:00 LeConte group 8:00 Green Camp Gap & Cades Cove groups

Morning: Mt. Le Conte via Rainbow Falls and Bullhead, strenuous, 13.3 miles Mount Le Conte, at 6,593 feet, is the third highest peak within the park, and the highest “free-standing” peak east of the Mississippi. Climbing the mountain is a traditional trip for many hiking enthusiasts. However, to make it up and back in a day is very strenuous for those unaccustomed to hiking. The trail begins and ends at Cherokee Orchard Road near Gatlinburg. Geological curiosities, a waterfall, great views, groves of rhododendron and laurel, and creek crossings (on bridges) make for a hike full of many interesting sights. Vertical rise and fall is 3,500 feet in 6 miles.

Morning: Green Camp Gap, moderate, 6 miles A number of trails in the park follow old railroad beds that were used in the early decades of the twentieth century to haul logs miles away to a lumber mill. Our hike begins on one such trail and meanders beside beautiful cascades and rivulets of Lynn Camp Prong. This part of the day is very easy hiking – wide and only very slightly inclined. After two miles we turn onto an old trail that is virtually unknown and no longer maintained. Natural forest succession is rapidly reclaiming it. There are narrow sections, places to duck below the rich growth of rhododendron, and places to maneuver over logs and debris. We will be traveling through one of the largest trail-less areas in the park where signs of wildlife are often abundant. On the final two mile stretch another overgrown railway bed will guide us back and forth across glorious Sams Creek. Rock/boulder hopping will be necessary. Be prepared to hike off the trodden path where undergrowth is thick in places. By the end of the hike you will have gotten a sense of what it feels like to be deep in the woods. Vertical rise: 1300 feet.

Morning: Cades Cove Potpourri, easy, approximately 3 miles Two million people annually drive the eleven-mile loop road around this scenic wonder in the Smokies. Precious few, however, get out of their cars and explore the open meadows that lie atop this rich limestone bottomland. This is how we’ll spend a good part of the day after we first visit a few geologic points of interest plus a historic site or two. Midday we’ll also visit one of Tremont’s citizen science projects where they’ll be tagging monarch butterflies passing through on their fall migration. This portion of the day will take place approximately from 11am-2pm. An ideal hike for those who are interested in resting weary limbs but still would like to enjoy the outdoors on shorter adventures. Long pants are recommended, as is taking sunscreen. The terrain is mostly flat, but the footing off the beaten path can be uneven at times.

Lunch: Sack lunch on trail

Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm

Dinner: 6:00

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, October 10 - Fourth Day Hiking
Breakfast: 7:00 Charlies Bunion 8:00 Turkeypen Ridge & Cucumber Gap groups

Morning: Charlies Bunion, moderate-strenuous (very rocky), 8 miles This is another high country hike with great views. It starts on the Appalachian Trail at Newfound Gap, where President Roosevelt dedicated the national park in 1941. At first, the hike is a steady, gradual climb on a section of the A.T. that gets a good deal of foot traffic. The views are great and the Canadian-zone Spruce-Fir forest you’ll experience walking up the slopes of Mount Kephart is a striking difference from what you’ll see in the lower elevations of the park. 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: Turkeypen Ridge, moderate, 8.4 miles Begin your hike on Turkeypen Ridge Trail and descend into Big Spring Cove, where you will see remnants of early farming. This section of trail undulates gently up and down for the next three miles, as it passes in and out of both dry and moist forests. Good views of Thunderhead Mountain and lovely large chestnut oak trees 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 it intersects with West Prong Trail. Descend on West Prong until you reach the river and lovely backcountry campsite #18. After leaving the river you will ascend the flanks of Fodderstack Mountain for one mile before beginning the gentle descent to the finish point. Never difficult, this is a great “walk in the woods” which ends right here at Tremont – a great conclusion to your week.

Morning: Cucumber Gap Loop (Little River & Jakes Creek Trails), easy, 5.3 miles This is one of the finest short loops in the park. After passing several old cabins in the Elkmont historic district the trail follows along the Little River through a beautiful second-growth forest. This section is as flat as it gets in the mountains and offers a wonderful opportunity to meander alongside a beautiful river for several miles. Once the trail crosses rollicking Huskey Branch it meets up with Cucumber Gap Trail and begins to climb, and crosses the branch once more. Tree and herbaceous plant diversity is stunning along this section and we will focus on identification as well as general natural history while walking this beautiful trail. The final 1.3 miles is downhill. Vertical rise: 800 feet in 3.3 miles.

Lunch: Sack lunch on trail

Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm

Dinner: 6:00

Evening: Presentations, music, storytelling, or other entertainment

Lodging: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day Six: Friday, October 11 - Friday/Departure
Breakfast: 8:00

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.

Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

Included
at no additional cost on this date ...
5 nights of accommodations
14 meals: 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners
24 Field trips
12 Hands-on experiences

Ratings

4.9
Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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