Adventures / Wild Hikes

Hike the Appalachian Trail through the Great Smoky Mountains

Tackle the highest section of one of the world's great long distance trails through a classic American national park

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Trip Ref #10110

Adventures / Wild Hikes

Hike the Appalachian Trail through the Great Smoky Mountains

Tackle the highest section of one of the world's great long distance trails through a classic American national park

DURATION

3 nights

LOCATION

United States

ANNUAL LEAVE

2 days off work

SEASON

Jun-Oct

GROUP SIZE

Up to 6 people

MEETING POINT

Knoxville McGhee Tyson Airport, Tennessee

ACCOMMODATION

Wild camping · Glamping

DIFFICULTY

Challenging

Anyone with good fitness levels for hiking with a pack for an overnight backcountry stay

Hike a spectacular section of the historic Appalachian Trail and pass its highest point beneath Clingmans Dome

Hike through old growth forests and experience backcountry camping in one of America's most picturesque national parks

Keep an eye out for black bears, salamanders, coyotes, deer, bobcats and elk while on the trail

All our reviews are verified

We only invite travellers to leave a review if they have booked this trip with Much Better Adventures.

Maarten, August 2021

The national parks are beautiful and our guides Megan and Alex were great! We had a chance to see a ton of wildlife, including wolves, bears, bison and more. The evenings at the campsite were very nice with campfires and some games. We would highly recommend this trip.

Included

Guides

Expert naturalist guides with wilderness first responder training.

Accommodation

2 nights backcountry wild camping, and 1 night in luxury safari style tents

Meals

Enjoy tasty food throughout with all your meals included

Transfers

Transfers to and from Knoxville Mcghee Tyson Airport, and everything in between

Equipment

We'll provide all the group equipment you need for your backcountry camping including tents, sleeping mats and cooking items.

Permits

All national park entry fees, backcountry camping fees and permits

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

McGhee Tyson Airport, Knoxville (TYS)

12pm on Day 1

Ends

McGhee Tyson Airport, Knoxville (TYS)

16:00 on Day 4

Transfers

Your host will meet you at McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee at 12pm on Day 1 so please book a flight that arrives before 11.30 am. Alternatively, you can be collected at your accommodation in Knoxville at 10:30 if you are already in town.

Your trip ends back at McGhee Tyson Airport at 16:00 on Day 4. We recommend booking a flight that leaves after 17:30 to ensure you have enough time. Alternatively you can be dropped at your accommodation in Knoxville if you are staying on.

Travel options

There are direct flights to McGhee Tyson Airport, Knoxville (TYS) from across the US and Europe.

Day 1

Wild camping · Twin tent

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Wild camping · Twin tent

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Glamping · Twin or triple share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Evening meals around the campfire will be based around rice and pasta dishes with fresh vegetables. For breakfast there will be eggs, pancakes and fruit. Lunches will be meat-based sandwiches, unless you request a vegan/vegetarian option. During the adventure you'll be kept topped up with delicious, local snacks. Water, tea and coffee are all provided, as well as wine and beer in the evenings.

Vegetarian, vegan and most dietary requirements can be accommodated on this trip.

What is the accommodation like?

Backcountry wild camping

For your first two nights, you'll stay at a backcountry camp site. You'll carry your own tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat - and everyone will muck in to help set up and take down camp.

Luxury Glamping in Great Smoky Mountains

Your final night will be spent at a luxury glamping site called 'Under Canvas' situated amongst 182-acres of lush, wooded terrain and just a few minutes from the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The safari style tents are shared on a twin or triple basis.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private tent just for the backcounty camping (nights 1 and 2) can be requested. Or you can also request a solo tent and your own Glamping Safari tent for all three nights of the trip.

See Optional Extras for prices. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

Day 1

Welcome to Tennessee!

Hiking

2-3 hours · 4 miles

Your host will meet you at Knoxville Mcghee Tyson Airport and whisk you straight off to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The afternoon will be spent enjoying a hike around the wooded trails in the National Park, before setting up your tent. In the evening, you'll enjoy getting to know the group around the campfire and your guides will brief you on tomorrow's big hike.

Day 2

Head out into the backcountry on the Appalachian Trail

Hiking

7-8 hours · 10 miles

Today you'll follow the historic Appalachian Trail along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, taking in the misty blue vistas of 'The Smokies'. After an amazing day of hiking you'll arrive at your backcountry campsite ready to cook a well earned dinner around the campfire before another night sleeping out in the wild.

Day 3

Continue along the Appalachian Trail

Hiking

7-8hrs · 10 miles

Today you'll continue along the Appalachian Trail with the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains for company again, eventually making your way out of the backcountry. The evening will be spent back in the lush, wooded area at your luxury glaming spot. You've earned it!

Day 4

One last hike before heading back to Knoxville

Today you can either have a leisurely morning at the camp spot or, if you still have life left in your legs, you can squeeze one last hike in before it's time to head back to Knoxville for your departing flight.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

We'll provide your tent, sleeping mat and cooking equipment

What's available to hire?

  • Sleeping bag (see Optional Extras for prices)

What do I need to bring?

Bags

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack (35+ litres)
  • Waterproof liner for kitbag or rucksack / drybags

Clothes

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Breathable wicking layers
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Warm hat
  • Buff or neckscarf
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear & socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Hiking boots (worn-in)
  • Sandals

Sleeping

  • Cotton or silk sleeping bag liner
  • Sleeping bag (2-3 season)
  • Travel pillow or pillowcase (optional)

Other

  • Padlock for left luggage
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Spare camera batteries
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellant
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry out)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle x1 ltr
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks

Optional Private Tent & Glamping Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Tent & Glamping Upgrade

Per Person

Optional Private Tent Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Tent Upgrade

Per Person

Sleeping Bag Hire

Payable Before Departure

Sleeping Bag Hire

Per Person

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 54kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

The terrain isn't too challenging, though you will be ascending and descending along the trail whilst carry a pack loaded with your gear for camping overnight, so you'll need to have decent fitness levels.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. The amount to tip is entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip in the USA; your guides will rely on tips for a considerable portion of their income.

We suggest to budget for 10%-20% of the trip cost as a guideline.

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

There is drinking water available at your glamping site on the final night.

You will be expected to carry extra water and there are water sources near most campsites where we can resupply. Guides will bring filters for the group. You just need to bring reusable water bottles to fill up throughout.

In July and August you can expect cool mornings followed by warm pleasant daytime temperatures. Summer days are typically sunny, with an occasional thunderstorm. Daytime highs are mostly in the 70s Faranheit (20-25 Celcius), occasionally creeping up to the 80s (late twenties Celcius)

September is a little cooler, particularly in the mornings and evenings while camping out, so bring extra layers of clothing. October can vary, often getting cold in the mornings and evenings but comfortable during the day. Dress in layers to adapt to changing temperatures!

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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