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A Hiking Adventure in the Great Smoky Mountains

Program Number: 2263RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/8/2013 - 9/13/2013; 10/5/2014 - 10/10/2014; 4/12/2015 - 4/17/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee
Price starting at: $595.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking; National Parks Activity Level: n (see description)
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Vegetarian    

Discover the beauty of the most rugged mountains in Appalachia! Education staff will assist in your exploration of cultural and natural history as you move through this amazing landscape. Start each day with a hot breakfast then pack a lunch, grab your daypack and head out on the trail. Daily hikes of 5 to 13 miles bring you into contact with this ancient mountain chain’s varied vegetation, crisp air, clear streams and spectacular scenery.




Highlights

• Daily hikes bring you into contact with the varied plant life, sparkling mountain streams and breathtaking vistas of the Appalachian Mountains.
• In the evenings, enjoy Appalachian music, stories and other educational sessions.
• Experience the crisp air, rushing water and vibrant colors of these amazing mountains.



Activity Particulars

Hikes of 5-13 miles daily. Mountainous terrain with rugged mountain trails and wilderness conditions on the trail. Elevations of 6,643 feet.



Coordinated by Great Smoky Mountains Institute.




Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee is America’s most visited National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World-renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, beautiful ancient mountains and the remnants of Appalachian culture, it is one of the largest protected areas in the Eastern United States.



Accommodations
Separate male and female accommodations in modern open dormitory with multiple-occupancy rooms for 15 using lower bunks. Shared baths.
Meals and Lodgings
   Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont
  Townsend, TN 5 nights
 Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont
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 allowed: No
  Bathroom: Shared bathroom with private showers and bathroom stalls
  Additional nights prior:  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
  Additional nights after:  Due to the numbers of groups hosted by GSMIT, we are unable to offer accommodation before the program begins or after it ends.
  Check out time: 9:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
3:00-5:00pm Check-In Time. 6:00pm Meet in dining hall for start of program. You will be staying at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont that night.
  End of Program:
8:30am End of program (following 7am breakfast). Checkout is 9:30am. You will be staying at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Road Scholar Health and Safety Form
  Parking availability:
Parking is available on campus
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Townsend, TN
  Nearest city or town:  Townsend
  Nearest highway: Hwy 321
  Nearest airport:  McGhee-Tyson, Knoxville, TN
  From End of Program
  Location: Townsend, TN
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Knoxville, TN

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
phone: 865-448-6709
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$20 per person
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1 hour 

 

Distance:

 

40 miles

 
Driving Directions
  FROM THE EAST Follow I-40 W to the 411S exit at Newport. Follow 411S to Sevierville then 441S to Pigeon Forge. Once in Pigeon Forge turn right and follow 321 S through Wear Cove to Townsend. Turn left in Townsend and follow Hwy. 73 into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Once in the park . . . Another option from the EAST is to reach the park by the Foothills Parkway exit, # 443 from I-40W. The route is scenic but winding. Follow the Foothills Parkway to it's intersection with route 321, take a left on 321. In Cosby take a right to stay on 321 and continue to Gatlinburg. In Gatlinburg take 411 S toward GSMNP. Once in the park, at Sugarlands Visitor Center, turn right toward Townsend and Cades Cove. After about 18 miles, go past the Townsend entrance on your right and watch for signs for a left turn to Great Smoky Mountains Institute. Come two miles up the road and turn left.
  FROM THE NORTH I-75 S to Knoxville. Continue on 275/ I-40 W for a short distance. Follow airport exits to 129 S. which takes you toward Alcoa/Maryville. From Maryville, take 321 N through Townsend. Do not turn toward Pigeon Forge. Follow signs straight into the Cades Cove entrance toGreat Smoky Mountains National Park. Once in the park . . .
  FROM THE SOUTH From Atlanta take I-75 N to Lenoir City - exit #81. Follow 321 North through Maryville to Townsend. Go straight on Hwy. 73 (don't turn toward Pigeon Forge) into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Once in the park . . .
  FROM THE WEST Follow I-40 E to the Lenoir City exit, #364. Follow route 321 N through Lenoir City into Maryville and on into Townsend (do not turn on 321 toward Pigeon Forge) Hwy. 73 leads you straight into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Once in the park . . .
  ONCE IN THE PARK When coming in from Townsend, follow the road to the Y-intersection with signs to Gatlinburg or Cades Cove. Turn right towards Cades Cove, then immediately you will see a sign indicating the road to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute. Turn left across the bridge and follow the Tremont road 2 miles (you will cross two, two-lane bridges) to the Institute turning left across the 1-lane bridge. Office is on the left. Please check in.
Equipment Requirements: Appropriate outdoor clothing and personal hiking gear.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Orientation and Expectations
(Sunday, September 8)
   
 Afternoon: Arrive between 3pm and 5pm
 Dinner: Dinner included.
 Evening: Introductions Expectations for the week Sign-up for hikes (choice of 3 hikes each day) Social
   
Accommodations: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: First Hiking Day
(Monday, September 9)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast included.
 Morning: Laurel Falls to Little Greenbrier Trail, easy to moderate, 6.9 miles After an approximately mile-long hike on a cement path, this route comes to Laurel Falls, one of the most popular waterfalls in the park. Whereas most visitors turn around at this point, we will continue on, though no longer on a cement path. As we climb the flank of Cove Mountain we’ll experience a real treat – giant sentinels of buckeye, basswood and tulip trees that thrive in an old-growth forest. Following a steady climb of three miles, the rest of way will be almost entirely downhill. Much of this portion of the hike follows along the national park boundary, which affords glimpses of civilization in one direction and wilderness in the other. After visiting the Walker Sisters homestead, where five sisters lived without modern conveniences well into the 1960s, we’ll come to our end point at Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse. Vertical rise: 1300 feet. Vertical fall: 1900 feet.
 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 2250 feet in 4 miles.
 Lunch: Sack lunch on trail
 Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm
 Dinner: Dinner included.
 Evening: Presentations, music, storytelling, or other entertainment
   
Accommodations: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Second Hiking Day
(Tuesday, September 10)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast included.
 Morning: Charlies Bunion, moderately 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: Cucumber Gap Loop, moderately 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. In places, a lush carpet of spring wildflowers accompanies your ascent to the gap. We will focus on wildflower and tree identification as well as general natural history while walking this beautiful trail. The final 1.3 miles is down hill. Vertical rise: 800 feet in 3.3 miles.
 Lunch: Sack lunch on trail
 Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm
 Dinner: Dinner included.
 Evening: Presentations, music, storytelling, or other entertainment
   
Accommodations: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Third Day Hiking
(Wednesday, September 11)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast included.
 Morning: Mt. Le Conte: Boulevard/Alum Cave, strenuous, 13 miles Mount Le Conte, elevation 6593 feet, is the third highest peak in 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 final ascent to the top is very steep. Vertical rise: 1080 feet in 7.8 miles. Alum Cave Trail is downhill but fairly strenuous and the easiest route of 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. Fascinating geological features, great views, rhododendron groves, and a beautiful creek make for a hike full of discoveries. Vertical fall: 2560 feet in 5.5 miles.
 Morning: Andrews Bald, easy to moderate, 3.6 miles This is a beautiful high-country walk to a bald that is more accessible than any other bald in the park. The slope down to the bald is easy but somewhat rocky. If raining the rocks can be a bit slippery. You will be walking downhill for the first mile, then across a level saddle with some uphill 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 hike one additional mile up and back to the observation tower at Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park. Vertical rise: 800 feet.
 Lunch: Sack lunch on trail
 Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm
 Dinner: Dinner included.
 Evening: Presentations, music, storytelling, or other entertainment
   
Accommodations: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Fourth Day Hiking
(Thursday, September 12)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast included.
 Morning: Sugarland Mountain, moderately strenuous (due to length), 12 miles Hiked from top to bottom, Sugarland Mountain Trail is a long leisurely delight. It is only occasionally steep and rocky. Staring in the high country at 5870 feet. This begins in a spruce-fir forest, which is endemic to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The trail follows through old growth forest and a variety of forest types and provides exceptional vistas. Other highlights include huge yellow birch trees, a backcountry trail shelter at Mt. Collins, view of Mt. LeConte and the Little River valley. Near the end of the hike there are also a number of large chestnut oaks and tuliptrees. Vertical fall: 3700 feet in 12 miles.
 Morning: Indian Flats Falls, moderately esy, 7.5 miles This hike begins at the end of Tremont Road, the original location of “Tremont” back when it was a booming town for the Little River Lumber Company in the 1920s and 30s. The Middle Prong Trail follows an old railroad grade along beautiful Lynn Camp Prong. In places it is somewhat rocky. Lynn Camp Cascades (also called Panther Falls) can be viewed within the first mile. Further on, the trail crosses Indian Flats Prong on a wide bridge. A series of switchbacks, originally created for the railroad, climb the ridge here. Eventually you come to a short side trail leading to Indian Flats Falls, tucked away in the mountain. There are four falls in all that drop 65 feet and run 170 feet. Vertical rise: 1100 feet.
 Lunch: Sack lunch on trail
 Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm
 Dinner: Dinner included.
 Evening: Presentations, music, storytelling, or other entertainment
   
Accommodations: Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Friday/Departure
(Friday, September 13)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast included.
 Morning: Depart by 9:00 am
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Strangers in High Places


Author: Michael Frome


Description: A highly informative human history of the Great Smokies from 1700s to the creation of the national park. Particularly good on the early history of the region.



A Natural History Guide: Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Author: Donald W. Linzey


Description: Chapters on geology, forest types, balds, aquatic diversity and many other subjects.



A Home In Walker Valley: The Story of Tremont


Author: Jeremy Lloyd


Description: The story of this valley from Will Walkers arrival to the present day provides a microcosm of the regions history as a whole.





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