2263
Tennessee
Choose Your Pace: A Hiking Adventure in the Great Smoky Mountains
Enjoy daily hikes at the pace you choose through some of the most scenic trails of Appalachia as you learn about local wildlife, ecosystems and Appalachian music and storytelling.
Program No. 2263RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
779
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Orientation and Expectations
Townsend, TN
D
Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

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.

DAY
2
First Hiking Day
Townsend, TN
B,L,D
Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Breakfast: Breakfast in Dining Hall.

Morning: Choose between three hikes: 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. Total elevation gain: 1,600 feet over 4 miles. Total elevation loss: ditto. FINLEY CANE/WEST PRONG TRAILS, easy, 6 miles. This short, wonderful hike ends right out our backdoor and provides ample opportunities along the way to discover what’s going on in nature. Expect neither giant climbs nor extraordinary views; instead this enjoyable woodland walk is filled with many small surprises. This pleasant hike features rolling terrain, climbing a total of 700 feet and descending a total of 1,150 feet over 6 miles. MEIGS CREEK, moderate, 7.5 miles. This hike will begin with a shuttle to The Sinks, a popular river attraction along Little River Road, and ends when we walk right back into Tremont. The first 3.5 miles weave through a lovely forest and crosses Meigs Creek about eighteen times. While many creek crossings are small and can be rock-hopped, bringing a pair of sandals or river shoes is highly recommended. Old-growth forest comprises the upper reaches of this tributary of the Little River, a real treat. We’ll stop for lunch at Buckhorn Gap before following Lumber Ridge Trail for 4 miles through pine-oak and cove hardwood forest back to campus. Total elevation gain: 1,500 in 3.5 miles. Total elevation loss: 1,600 feet over 3.3 miles.

Lunch: Sack lunch on trail

Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm

Dinner: Dinner served in Dining Hall.

Evening: Presentations, music, storytelling, or other entertainment

DAY
3
Second Hiking Day
Townsend, TN
B,L,D
Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Breakfast: Breakfast in Dining Hall.

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. Total elevation gain: 2,250 feet over 4 miles. Total elevation loss: ditto.

Lunch: Sack lunch on trail

Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm

Dinner: Dinner served in Dining Hall.

Evening: Presentations, music, storytelling, or other entertainment

DAY
4
Third Day Hiking
Townsend, TN
B,L,D
Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Breakfast: Breakfast in Dining Hall.

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. Total elevation gain: 800 feet in 3.3 miles. Total elevation loss: 650 feet over 1.5 miles.

Lunch: Sack lunch on trail

Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm

Dinner: Dinner served in Dining Hall.

Evening: Presentations, music, storytelling, or other entertainment

DAY
5
Fourth Day Hiking
Townsend, TN
B,L,D
Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Breakfast: Breakfast in Dining Hall.

Morning: Andrews Bald, easy-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. Total elevation loss: 1,000 feet over 1.8 miles. Total elevation gain: ditto.

Lunch: Sack lunch on trail

Afternoon: Return by 4:30 pm

Dinner: Dinner served in Dining Hall.

Evening: Presentations, music, storytelling, or other entertainment

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Townsend, TN
B

Breakfast: Breakfast in dining hall.

Morning: Depart by 9:00 am






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