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Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling

Blue Ridge Rambling

Destination: Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina

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. Maximum group size: 12

Highlights

  • Hiking in crisp and cool fall air in the Blue Ridge 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

Departures and Prices

September 29 to October 04, 2019
$1825.00 - FULL
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September 27 to October 02, 2020
$1895.00 - Available
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Inclusions

  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • 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

Details

This trip is appropriate for any active woman who regularly walks for exercise and wants a vacation that mixes being active in the outdoors with historical and cultural exploration. No particular experience is needed but please note that almost all the hiking involves ups and downs. The trip is rated 2. Prior to beginning the trip, participants should be walking regularly, including hills or stairs, at a brisk pace 3 to 4 days a week for 35 - 45 minutes. Rating: 1 [2] 3 4 5.

On this multisport adventure vacation, we'll combine moderate hiking and whitewater rafting with visiting some of the Blue Ridge Mountains' iconic destinations, including the Biltmore Estate, Black Mountain, and Folk Art Center.

We'll spend five nights at the William Black Lodge in the Montreat Retreat Center. All rooms are clean, comfortable, and have en suite bathrooms. The lodge is known for its delicious, buffet-style meals; we will be eating all breakfasts and three out of five dinners there.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
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.
DAY 2
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 takes about an hour and does require climbing (part of the way on stairs) as we descend one peak and summit another. On a clear day, however, the reward is great with wide panoramic views 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.
DAY 3
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.
DAY 4
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
DAY 5
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
DAY 6
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

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "Did this trip meet your expectations?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

food was great, hike leaders were great, agenda was great.

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018


We had a good group of women. The views form the hikes were just gorgeous. The rafting/zipling was awesome. The guides were great.

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018


The highlight was how welcoming and inclusive most of the women were. I have not laughed that much in a long time! From an itinerary perspective, the whitewater rafting was a highlight.

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018


The Biltmore was amazing! I was glad that we were able to remain for the night time exhibition of the Chihuly pieces - I will go back to explore the Biltmore further !

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018


I was not as prepared as I should have been. I went on Smoky mountain trip last year and it was difficult but I participated in all the hikes and was comfortable. I was expecting much the same type of trip and was disappointed that I found myself unable to keep up. I had an injection in my bad knee prior to the trip in anticipation of it being a challenge but it didn't last.

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018


the Biltmore estate and the rafting I was looking for a longer rafting trip. It was over too soon.

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018


Since this was my first trip, I wasn't sure what to expect but it was all I had hoped for and more! It's hard to choose highlights, there were so many! Getting acquainted with new friends, conquering fears ...especially Zip Lining!

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018


Enjoyed the differing activities offered. Loved being able to see the Biltmore and the Chihuly exhibit, especially adding the night portion as well. Thanks!

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018


I enjoy traveling with women's groups, and this was a fun and interesting group of women.

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018


For my first AGC trip, this was a homerun. As a hiker, what I really enjoyed was the multi-sport mix and the rafting and ziplining was my favorite part of the trip. I've never done either, and this was a safe way to push the personal boundary a bit and overcome my trepidation. The pace was brisk for someone not used to being on the go for 12 hours a day. I enjoyed the Biltmore and opportunity to see the Chihuly exhibit too! The trip exceeded my expectations in the warm group dynamic among the women. Kim and Wendy did a great job in getting conversations going and ensuring a positive group dynamic, and we traveled together easily.

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018


Making it to the top of Mt Mitchell, white water rafting, the great food served at the lodge. and the guides Kim and Wendy were absolutely wonderful.

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/1/2017-10/6/2017


I especially enjoyed the Mount Craig hike that began in the Mt. Mitchell parking lot. Also, the raft trip was just exciting enough for me without being scary. Traveling with a women’s only group is very special and so different from coed groups. Excellent guides. One very minor concern — on the raft trip, it would have been nice to have a somewhat easier way “to pee.” I really didn’t want to wade out into waist deep water (as the river guide suggested), and the only trail went very steeply down a little hill to a gully. I wondered how many rafters had used the exact location. Perhaps just a more useable trail?

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/1/2017-10/6/2017


Yes. I really enjoyed the trip and all the planned activities, there was hardly a moment to spare. Hard to say exactly what the highlights were, the number of activities in the number of days was just right.

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/1/2017-10/6/2017


Visit to Biltmore, zip lining and white water rafting. Hiking was more strenuous than expected with a 2 rating.

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/1/2017-10/6/2017


This was my first all woman's hiking trip and I just loved it. It was nice to be able to hike with people who "looked like me" and were supportive all along the way. The guides were terrific each in their own way and everything combined to make it great. The resort was terrific. The cook made a great effort to take care of my dietary preference with grace and good humor.

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/1/2017-10/6/2017


French Broad Adventures was an amazing experience, the food was fantastic and the organization and timeliness of the activities was spot on.

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/1/2017-10/6/2017


I don't even know where to start! Everyday was wonderful- hiking, water rafting, zip-lining, socializing The food definitely exceeding my expectations, excellent at every meal! This was a wonderful group of women that got along very well. The weather was even perfect. Our guides were detailed, organized, and FUN. We connected very well. I want to do more trips with Kim and Wendy.

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/1/2017-10/6/2017


The hiking was outstanding. Given the spectacular weather I would have liked to do about 1 to 2 more miles each day. The rafting was fun but rather short in relation to the driving distance and preparation time. If the hot tub were dropped, the rafting could be longer.

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/1/2017-10/6/2017


See rating of trip, below.

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/1/2017-10/6/2017


Great activities, guides were very helpful and provided tips to help develop our hiking skills. Down time given to explore local town and alternative options provided for travelers who chose to pass on an activity.

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/2/2016-10/7/2016


Loved learning more about hiking. This .was my first true hiking trip.also loved the white eater rafting. Especially enjoyed getting to know all the ladies in the group and was amazed at how fast we all bonded. Ann and Kim were fabulous!

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/2/2016-10/7/2016


This was my very first "real mountain" hiking trip (I'm sure Kim and Ann can attest to that!), overall it was great! Before my next trip (and I do plan more trips with AGC), I will train more to be better prepared. The scenery was beautiful, and I could not have selected a better group of ladies to spend the week with. Kim and Ann were the BEST guides! I never felt pressured to keep up and anytime I needed help or had a question, they were right there. I really loved whitewater rafting! Wish I had the courage to zip line.....maybe on my next AGC trip.

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/2/2016-10/7/2016


Everything had been well-planned out, and our days were full of activities. The hiking was great; the mountains are beautiful. I would have liked more time at the Biltmore Estate to see more of the gardens.

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/2/2016-10/7/2016


whitewater rafting and the Biltmore Meeting Kim and other great women and seeing Anne again

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/2/2016-10/7/2016


Beautiful forest Great rafting and zip lining experience Women and Guides were great and enjoyable to be with Beautiful flowers Wonderful cool weather

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/2/2016-10/7/2016


The fun, the safety, the fun! Meeting ladies from all walks (hikes) of life and yet having so much in common. The variety of activities and how they were spread out. Kim made me feel welcomed in her 'backyard. I really enjoyed Anne's sense of humor and perspective. These two work (play) well together. I felt safe and involved/included. I liked the optional choices we were offered. The lodge was warm and friendly and clean. The food was good too. Great trip! Thank you.

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/2/2016-10/7/2016


I thought the combination of activities was perfect. There was never a dull moment, although there was definitely sufficient time to regroup from a full day of exertion. I loved everything about it.

Blue Ridge Rambling 10/2/2016-10/7/2016


  1. Where do we eat?

    Your breakfasts and some dinners will be buffet meals at the lodge where you are staying. Other dinners will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu. Before you leave in the morning the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you'll take a packed lunch.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    All the rooms are singles on this trip! But on any of our trips you only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.
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