From: October 7 to October 13, 2018

Destination: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  • Fall in the Great Smokies - FULL

    The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is world famous for the diversity of its plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, its excellent fall foliage, and many excellent hiking trails (over 900 miles). Designed to give you an overview of one of our most treasured National Parks, hiking there in October is definitely a peak experience. We'll marvel at the fall foliage, hiking at a leisurely pace to enhance our enjoyment of the scenery, take time to take pictures and identify shrubs and trees, and soak our feet in beautiful pools at the edge of waterfalls. Whether you are intrigued by salamanders or birds, waterfalls or mountain vistas, learning about the fascinating cultural history, or just seeking less traveled paths, you will quickly understand why the Great Smokies have been designated both an International Biosphere reserve and a World Heritage Site. Maximum group size: 12
    THIS TRIP IS FULL. To get on a waitlist, register for the trip (no deposit required).
  • Sunday, October 7
    If you're flying in, we'll meet you at the Knoxville Airport at noon. After driving to the Park, we start with an introduction to the cultural history of the Smokies by visiting the area once known to early settlers as the Little Greenbrier Community. We'll visit the Little Greenbrier School (first opened in 1882), a pioneer cemetery, and the Walker Sisters cabin and home site. This slightly ascending trail is along an old roadbed. If you are driving, please plan to be at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic parking lot (south side) by 2:00 pm. Little Brier Gap Trail, 2.6 miles. (D)

    Monday, October 8
    Our trail today rises at a steady, moderate grade as it passes through a forest of large Eastern Hemlocks and Fraser magnolias and then into a moist, sheltered cove hardwood forest. Rich in cultural history as well, Porters Creek trail passes the old Baxter Cabin, stone walls, an old cantilevered barn and the Owenby Cemetery, all remnants of the time that a thriving community lived here. We will hike to Fern Branch Falls and have lunch before turning back. Porters Creek Trail, about 4 miles. (B, L, D)

    Tuesday, October 9
    Our trek today will take us through Eastern Hemlock and deciduous forests as we hike along the Maddron Bald Trail. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC), the trail begins as an old roadbed and rises consistently, though moderately, throughout its entire length. Albright Grove, named for Horace Albright who was an advocate for the park and a director for the National Park Service, is an awesome remnant of old growth forest. Here you will experience the sights, sounds, and feel of a unique old growth forest environment. We'll have plenty of time to stroll among and admire the grand Eastern Hemlocks, silverbells, Fraser magnolias, tulip trees, and other tree species before returning along the Maddron Bald Trail. Mileage: 6.7 miles. (B, L, D)

    Wednesday, October 10
    Ready to give your legs a break and see a completely different part of the ecosystem? We'll enjoy breakfast out at the Log Cabin Pancake House and then onto the white water of the Pigeon River! Although the rapids are large enough to be exciting, the trip is completely appropriate for novice rafters. Returning to Gatlinburg, we'll head over to Bud Ogle's farm and give our legs a stretch by hiking the 1.2-mile nature hike and explore what a typical homestead was like in this part of the country, including a plume for water, a grist mill and 'drive thru' barn. Mileage: 1.2 miles hiking, many miles rafting! (B, L, D)

    Thursday, October 11
    Now that we've had time to get acquainted with the park, this morning we'll head to the Visitors Center where we'll learn a whole lot more! With the help of an excellent film, we'll hear about the park, its history and its natural inhabitants and maybe even see a few of the places we've already visited. Then the hiking continues - destination, Laurel Falls. Laurel Falls is one of the most visited spots in the park and for good reason! Not only is it a pleasant walk but also one of the most spectacular falls in the Smokies.
    After the falls, we'll head back to our lodge for lunch and a little relaxation. For the afternoon, you can choose your favorite way to enjoy the rest of the day: zip lining (not included in the trip fee); a hike to Grotto Falls (a moderate 2.6-mile hike to the only 'walk behind' waterfalls in the Smokies) with one of the guides; or, since it is vacation, you might want to just spend a relaxing afternoon back at the lodge, enjoying the porch or hot tub. Who knows - even shopping and local crafts could be on the agenda! Your guides will help you sort out the options and you get where you want to go. Mileage will vary depending on choice made. (B, L, D)

    Friday, October 12
    Today will be spent at the highest part of the park - we're headed for the Appalachian Trail, Charlies Bunion at Newfound Gap and Clingman's Dome. We'll stop first at Newfound Gap where we'll enjoy the scenery and learn more about the founding of the park and the work of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), a federal work program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men as part of the New Deal. After reviewing our history, we'll take the historic Appalachian Trail to Icewater Shelter, an AT shelter for backpackers. For some this will be enough and it's a delightful place to rest and then turn around. Others may choose to continue on to Charlies' Bunion (tongue in cheek name after one of the 1929 surveyors foot bunion). There are spectacular views of the surrounding valley from the trail, the shelter and the 'bunion' Upon our return, we'll head over to Clingman's Dome, walk the .5 mile paved 'up' to the Dome. Climbing to the top of the Dome will give us another fabulous view of almost the entire park. This will be a lengthy day but all the views will make it one of the most satisfying. We'll return to our lodge ready for dinner and maybe the hot tub! Mileage: 6 - 9 total. Elevation gain/loss: 900 - 1200 feet (B, L, D)

    Saturday, October 13
    It's our last morning in the Smokies and we'll continue to savor every minute! We'll take our time this morning, enjoy our last breakfast together and the view from the lodge, before making our way, reluctantly back to Knoxville. If you're driving, you can plan to leave by 10 a.m. If you're flying we'll return you to the Knoxville airport by 11:30am for a flight out after 12:30 pm. (B)
  • $1975 (see this page for discounts).  $300 deposit. *If you are coming with someone with whom you would like to share a room (and bed), you can each deduct $350 in addition to whatever other discounts you're eligible for (please indicate your interest in this when you register.)

    Trip Includes

    • Two experienced AGC guides
    • Six nights lodging in a private room with ensuite bathroom
    • All meals from dinner on Sunday through breakfast Saturday
    • Transportation to/from the Knoxville airport (TYS) and transportation during the trip
    • White water rafting and rafting guide gratuities

    Not included: Airfare to/from Knoxville (TYS), alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities, and optional activities (such as ziplining)
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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

  • Being surrounded by the blazing glory of the leaves turning
  • Rafting a fun section of the Pigeon River (suitable for women with no experience)
  • Visiting Little Greenbrier Community and learning about the people who lived here
  • Hiking beautiful trails, and enjoying lunch next to a waterfall
  • Gazing at the view from the hot tub and luxuriating in your own private room

Register for this trip today

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