From: September 30 to October 5, 2018

Destination: Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina

  • Blue Ridge Rambling

    The Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina are rich with scenic beauty, opportunities for outdoor adventure, and cultural traditions. Fall, with its crisp air and beautiful fall foliage, is the perfect time to sample all the possibilities, and Montreat provides a peaceful and relaxing setting from which to enjoy it. During our six days we'll combine moderate mountain hiking and whitewater rafting with visiting some of the area's iconic destinations, including the Biltmore Estate, Black Mountain, and Folk Art Center. Everyone gets a single on this trip.  Maximum group size: 12
  • Sunday, September 30
    Please plan to arrive at the Asheville Airport (AVL) by 2 pm or at Montreat by 3pm. We'll meet you there and after brief introductions, we'll be on our way to Montreat, our home base for the trip. Located about 18 miles outside of Asheville, this small town/retreat center is known for its peaceful and beautiful setting and great hiking trails. We'll settle into our home for the week and then head out for a hike to introduce you to the area and terrain (lots of rocks and roots) and to stretch your legs The hike is a 2.5 mile loop on part of the Greybeard trail that connects to the Harry Bryant Trail with a short detour to a small waterfall and then ends at the Wildlife Sanctuary. We return to the lodge for our first dinner together. After dinner - those rocking chairs on the front porch may be calling! D.

    Monday, October 1
    After a hearty breakfast, we drive about an hour on the famous Blue Ridge Parkway to Mount Mitchell. Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak east of the Mississippi, has an environment that is more similar to Canada than the Southeast. A road ascends to the summit where an observation tower offers panoramic views of the surrounding Black Mountains. Weather permitting our destination today will be Mount Craig, the second-highest peak in the eastern US. The trail begins from the parking lot of Mount Mitchell and trails through a lush, high-elevation forest that’s home to some rare and endangered plants, shaded by sweet-scented spruce and balsam fir trees. While the destination is less than 1 mi. it does require climbing as we descend one peak and summit another. On a clear day, however, the reward is great with wide panoramic views extend from the summit. On the way back we'll stop in the town of Black Mountain, known for its numerous upscale gift shops, galleries, and Appalachian style craft stores, with local craftsmen demonstrating iron works, wood bowl turning, and hand thrown pottery. We'll try not to ruin our appetite with too much ice cream that beckons before gathering for another delicious dinner. B,L,D.

    Tuesday, October 2
    This morning we head west for a great half day of whitewater rafting on French Broad, the area's premiere whitewater river. Our expert raft guides will help us navigate class II and III rapids, suitable for novice and experienced rafters alike. After rafting there are several wonderful choices: zip-lining, hiking, soaking in the mineral waters of Hot Springs, N.C. and/or visiting the town of Hot Springs – all excellent choices! Zip-lining is canopy tour offered by our rafting company where you’ll be zipping from tree to tree in a beautiful mountain setting. The tour is an exciting combination of zips, rappels and short hikes. Not appealing? Then join your guide for a bit of hiking. Choices abound depending on time, energy and weather. Doing a portion of Lovers’ Leap Ridge which is on the Appalachian Trail or possibly doing a trail that runs along the French Broad River. Hiking can be followed by a soak in the local mineral water hot springs! Regardless of your choice, the group will eventually reunite in Black Mountain for dinner at a local restaurant before heading back to the lodge and enjoying the satisfaction of another excellent day. B,L,D.

    Wednesday, October 3
    We'll spend the day visiting Asheville's best known site: the Biltmore Estate. This grand mansion (which is an understatement since, at 178,926 square feet, it is the largest mansion in America) and the 8,000 acre grounds have been impressing people since George Washington Vanderbilt built it in the late 1890s. If you've ever wondered what the Gilded Age looked like, this would be it. We'll spend the morning touring the main house and gardens.
    Lunch will be on your own to allow time for exploration after our scheduled tour of the house. There is a lovely cafe next to the house, adjacent to the gardens. Following our house tour, Antler Hill Village beckons with its array of shops it's an adventure into local crafts and plenty of souvenirs. Not into shopping? Other options available: exploring the grounds on foot or by bicycle on some of the 22 miles of hiking/biking trails found on the estate, walking along the French Broad River, through lush green forest, spending more time strolling on the 2.5 miles of paths in the manicured gardens and just enjoying the feel of that glorious Gilded Age. But wait - still more to come - we'll complete the afternoon with a visit to the Antler Hill Winery, the Biltmore winery. We'll learn how the original dairy barn was converted into our state-of-the-art winery, and how they developed a winemaking philosophy. And, of course, no winery tour is complete without the opportunity to taste the product! After touring, hiking, biking, shopping and wine tasting, we'll head back to the inn for dinner and relaxing on the porch! B, D

    Thursday, October 4
    This morning we return to the Blue Ridge Parkway, this time heading to Craggy Gardens area for a 2.5 mile hike on the Mountains to Sea trail to take in the fall foliage. We'll travel through a stunted high-elevation forest of mostly birch trees, exploring the second-highest Southern Appalachian forest community and another unique environment as well: a high-elevation heath bald. After a picnic lunch you'll have the option to go to the Craggy Pinnacle. This short, moderately steep trail ends in one of the best 360 degree summit views of the entire Blue Ridge Parkway. On the way back we'll stop at the Folk Art Center, home of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Started in 1930, the guild is a band of artists who joined together to create a market for high quality authentic mountain crafts. Their efforts have resulted in keeping traditional crafts alive that might otherwise have been lost. Our day ends with dinner at one of the many local restaurants in Asheville before heading back to the lodge for our last night together on the porch. B,L,D

    Friday, October 5
    We end our time here with one final hike: Lookout Mountain. It's probably the most beloved hike in Montreat and a fitting end to our trip. The short, fairly steep, hike brings us to a view that is well worth the effort. The trail ends at a rocky viewpoint overlooking Montreat and the surrounding area, allowing us to see many of the places we've explored this week from a different vantage point. Back at the lodge, we'll have time to clean up before leaving for the airport. We'll have you there by noon and you can plan to fly home any time after 1:30PM. B
  • $1750 (see this page for travel discounts) $300 deposit. All rooms on this trip are singles.  You can see our cancellation policies here.

    Trip Includes

    • experienced guides
    • all activities on the itinerary, including whitewater rafting, ziplining, and the Biltmore Estate visit
    • all meals from Sunday dinner through breakfast the next Friday with the exception of one lunch
    • five nights lodging in single occupancy rooms
    • transportation during the trip including round trip transfer from the Asheville airport 
    Not included: transportation to Asheville, alcoholic beverages, one lunch, optional activities, guide gratuities, and items of a personal nature
     
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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Hiking in crisp and cool fall air in the Blue Ridge Mountains mountains
  • Whitewater rafting on the French Broad River
  • Visiting the Biltmore Estate and Antler Hill Winery
  • Enjoying the very popular towns of Black Mountain and Asheville
  • Relaxing in the beautiful surroundings of Montreat and the warm hospitality of the William Black Lodge

Register for this trip today

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