Fall in the Great Smokies

Destination: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

| Activities: Hiking, White Water Rafting, and Culture

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is world famous for the diversity of its plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, 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 views, 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.


  • Exploring one of America's oldest mountain ranges and most popular National Parks
  • 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

Departures and Prices

October 08 to October 14, 2023
$3195.00 - FULL
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October 15 to October 21, 2023
$3195.00 - FULL
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  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • 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 any optional activities

Trip Documents

Trip Info

This trip is appropriate for any woman who exercises regularly at a moderate level (such as going for 45 minute brisk walks with hills 3 to 5 days a week), and who either enjoys hiking or is new to hiking and wants to learn in a safe and fun environment. This trip does require a certain level of physical fitness to fully enjoy the experience. The trails and terrain you will encounter will be well developed woodland trails with rolling terrain, with occasional steep sections, uneven footing, shallow water crossing, primitive bridge crossing, rocks and roots. Your hikes will be under forest canopy (trees) as well as a day spent at a higher elevation with spectacular views. You will be spending between 6 - 7 hours each day hiking or rafting. On this trip, there is also a special emphasis on cultural and natural history. Rating: 1 [2] 3 4 5

This trip combines hiking with learning about the natural and cultural history of the area. With lots of instruction and tips to make your hiking more enjoyable, this is an ideal trip for novice hikers and any active woman who loves to be out in the fall foliage. Although peak color is never possible to predict, leaves may be turning at the higher elevations in early October.

On this trip we stay the entire week in a luxury lodge, perched on a mountainside just outside Gatlinburg. There are 12 private rooms (some with king beds and others with Queens) all with private bathrooms. Amenities include a pool table, a covered porch with rocking chairs and a great view, a hot tub, fireplace, and a large dining and living room. Everyone gets her own bedroom on this trip. Rooms are assigned by lottery.
If you are coming with someone with whom you would like to share a room and bed, there is a 10% discount (limited to 2 people).

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.

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)
Our trail today is a wonderful introduction to the variety of hiking in the Smokies. The beginning of the trail is smooth and easy as it follows an old road along the scenic banks of the Little River. The sparkling clean water of the Little River supports a variety of charismatic aquatic life, including the eastern hellbender salamander and the occasional river otter. At 2.4 miles we'll arrive at the junction of the Cucumber Gap trail, and follow it's well-worn single track up and down through peaceful forest to Jake's Creek Trail. Along the way we'll visit the rich cultural history of the area. As you hike you'll notice the remnants of cottages built by affluent citizens of Knoxville in the 1920's, some of which the park has worked to preserve. Following the hike we will return to our lodge for our first home-cooked dinner of the trip. Cucumber Gap Loop, about 5.5. miles. (B, L, D)
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 was named for Horace Albright, who was an early advocate for the park and a director of the National Park Service. The grove that honors him is an awesome remnant of old growth forest, where you can experience the sights, sounds, and feel of this unique 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)
Ready to give your legs a break and see a completely different part of the ecosystem? We'll enjoy a delicious breakfast 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)
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: 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)
Today will be spent at the highest part of the park - we're headed for Clingman's Dome and the Appalachian Trail at Newfound Gap! We'll stop first at Clingman's Dome where we'll walk the .5 mile paved 'up' to the Dome. Climbing to the top of the Dome will give us a fabulous view of the entire park as well as an amazing display of fall colors! After enjoying the scenery, we'll make our way to Newfound Gap for more gorgeous scenery and to learn about the founding of the park and the work of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). The CCC was a federal work program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed men as part of the New Deal. After learning a bit more of the park history, we're going to take a hike on the famous Appalachian Trail! From Newfound Gap well head north to Icewater Spring Shelter, an AT shelter for backpackers. Icewater Spring shelter will give us a great spot for lunch with a view. After lunch, we'll head back to the parking lot and make our way back to Gatlinburg and our lodge. We'll have one last chance for that hot tub before getting ready for our last dinner together - out on the town in Gatlinburg! Mileage: .5 - 6 total. Elevation gain/loss: 900/ 900 feet (B, L, D)
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)


(60 reviews)
4.8 Food
4.8 Lodging
5 Safety

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

Sort By:
Most Recent

Denise L.
10 months ago

The Smoky Mountains are gorgeous. It was my first time seeing them and I think we were there at the perfect time.

Lori W.
11 months ago

Janine G.
11 months ago

autumn leaves, fellow participants.

Heidi J.
11 months ago

Fall Foilage Other participatants were professionals Participatants came prepared with their equipment. Being on time was expected and accomplished

Susan H.
11 months ago

Had not done any hiking east of the Rockies before, wanted to see Smoky Mtn. NP, Having the lodge with each one having a private room.

Marjorie L.
11 months ago

I had never visited the Great Smokys before and I think this was the perfect time of year for that visit. We hit the Fall colors at exactly the right time. Also, the level of activity was perfect for me. We either hiked or walked or river rafted every day - I enjoyed the level 2 exercise on the trip.

Wendy H.
11 months ago

Great guides Great group of women Excellent weather

Noreen C.
11 months ago

Besides the company, the lodge was fantastic and our daily excursions were amazing!

Karen I.
11 months ago

Fantastic trip! The weather was great, beautiful fall calls, wonderful women, fun and beautiful hiking trails!! It was great to have a well-rounded trip with multiple activities. The best part for me was the hiking, but the rafting was a close second! Meals were delicious!

Christine C.
11 months ago

I really enjoyed the great group of women who gathered to hike and take in the beautiful fall foliage of the Smokies!

Cheryl M.
11 months ago

The guides were excellent at adapting to the group and weather. They created a positive and supportive group climate.

Lauren P.
11 months ago

Kathleen S.
1 year ago

The Smoky Mountain National Park is beautiful, I loved the variety of trees, and how the trails and eco system varied from hike to hike. I loved that we went in to the park from different points and that the hikes started easy and built up to hard. Seeing the bears was also a highlight.

Leslie T.
1 year ago

The guides were terrific and complimented each other. We had a very easy going, non complaining interesting group that got along well and supported each other.

Catherine V.
1 year ago

The guides were amazing on this trip, went over and above!

Tina D.
1 year ago

Wonderful accommodations (loved having own room), fabulous guides, great food, great group of women and awesome hikes! Jenny and Deb were so accommodating and patient.

Claire W.
1 year ago

Deb & Jenny did such a great job setting the tone for our magical week. Our group of ladies fed off of all this incredible positive energy. The stories, laughter & conversations shared were awesome. Definitely some special kindership & friendships made.

Cindy P.
1 year ago

1. The beauty of the area. 2. The amazing group of women 3. The Expertise, attention to detail, care and concern for each person on the trip, cooking skills, senses of humor, and obvious joy in everything that the guides were doing 4. The freedom to just be me and relax after a trying couple of years.

Carol C.
1 year ago

The guides, Jenny and Deb, were wonderful. They supported everyone in meeting their personal goals for this trip. They made even a slow hiker like me feel comfortable and subtlety helped me exceed what I perceived my to be my limits. I had a great time.

Suzanne G.
1 year ago

Wonderful supportive group, great lodge, beautiful scenery, interesting hikes, forest bathing

Sarah W.
1 year ago

The guides and the other participants were amazing. The lodging was awesome and the pace of the trip was perfect.

Alma W.
1 year ago

The opportunity to spend so much time in nature with an amazing group of women. The guides were incredible, personable, fun, great cooks, interesting, informative, caring. So good!

Frederique O.
1 year ago

The knowledge the guides had of the area, the way they worked together to make sure all needs were met. Accommodations were top notch.

Shawn Y.
1 year ago

The ‘good company’ and excellent guides made the trip special. Interesting women who like to laugh (& sweat) in a gorgeous setting - what could be better!

Katherine A.
1 year ago

Heather and Krista went above and beyond to make this trip great for all.

Sandra Y.
1 year ago

Heather and Krista set the tone for a really great week, from morning to night!

Mary B.
1 year ago

Excellent guides, I always felt comfortable within the group and asking the guides for advice, location was gorgeous and a nice variety of hikes and rafting, etc available.

Kellie K.
1 year ago

Dorothy R.
1 year ago

Our guides were serious about our safety and keeping us informed but so much fun to be with! They fostered camaraderie and sharing and made our week memorable in the best ways

Babs B.
3 years ago

Great guides, great fellow travelers, great adventures, great food, great accommodations

Carol S.
3 years ago

I did not expect the bears at the lodge and that was a very pleasant surprise and one of the highlights of my trip! I especially liked seeing the bear run up a dogwood tree, go out on the limb and eat the berries!! I did not expect the National park to be so crowded either. It was good that we tried to hike trails before the millions of tourist did. I would keep trying to do hikes that are not in the crowded areas, even if it's a longer drive from the lodge.

Barbara B.
3 years ago

Linda G.
3 years ago

Meg F.
3 years ago

Wonderful group of fellow participants and fantastic guides. The housing was comfortable, clean and in a lovely settings. Every day was terrific. The food was fabulous and all dietary restrictions were anticipated and accommodated. It was a terrific vacation.

Linda G.
3 years ago

Exceptional interaction with other travelers and with the AGC guides. The scenery was wonderful and the activities were well planned.

Alice B.
3 years ago

Heidi P.
3 years ago

I had no expectations, but if I had they'd have been greatly exceeded. So much fun, and so many wonderful memories.

Jane S.
3 years ago

I loved the relaxed feel of this trip. Because we stayed in a chalet the entire week with day-long excursions, we spent spent less time packing and unpacking and more time getting to know each other. Oh, yes, I almost forgot. Thanks AGC for arranging to have the mother bear and her cubs visit us at the chalet (LOL)!

Lillian R.
3 years ago

White water rafting and the last hike

Linda B.
3 years ago

Cathy P.
3 years ago

It was a great trip with great guests and guides. I really enjoyed having my own room and bathroom. The accommodations were excellent.

Lois R.
3 years ago

Loved the rafting, the guides, the cabin, the other ladies

Connie G.
3 years ago

The whole group got along so well and were so much fun. I feel fortunate that it turned out so well. Deb is an outstanding guide, so attentive to everyone's needs.

Jane R.
3 years ago

The lodging was outstanding. The guides were great, and the in house meals were fantastic. Hiking on the AT was fun.

Carrie B.
3 years ago

Very well organized and implemented. I was pleased that we were allowed to go at our own pace. Good mix of activities

Jane F.
3 years ago

The rafting was not quite whitewater but we could not control mother nature....

Maryjane L.
3 years ago

Great guides, perfect accommodations and the smoky mountains. What more can you expect?

Mary H.
3 years ago

Mary H.
3 years ago

Excellent group of participants; guides were fantastic; location and itinerary were great. The lodge was so welcoming and went a long way toward facilitating cohesiveness in the group.

Joan C.
3 years ago

I had hoped to hike on the Appalachian Trail, also to get a feel for the Smoky mountains. Both were accomplished. AGC guides encouraged us to do as much as we felt comfortable doing and were very supportive in helping us accomplish our goals. I wantd to make it to the AT shelter, and I did, and back. Very excited about that.

Deborah S.
3 years ago

Watched a bear family (from the safety of our deck), walking on the AT, meeting members of the Baxter family at the Baxter Cabin, sharing great meals with our group, sharing this experience with 13 marvelous women.

Linda B.
3 years ago

Loved the Clingman’s Dome and AT mini-section hike. All the hikes were fabulous. Exactly what I wanted.

Catherine S.
3 years ago

I enjoyed the trip because of the camaraderie of the women who participated and the deep forested hikes that we took.

Jane F.
3 years ago

The other travelers, the guides were great, the weather held out and the house was unbelievable

Audrey Z.
4 years ago

Trip was very well run. Excellent.

Patricia L.
4 years ago

Mountain Laurel Chalet was a FANTASTIC locale - just terrific to have our own rooms/bathrooms - lovely locale. Wonderful group of women and wonderful guides - Deb is a fabulous cook! Yum!

Jean K.
4 years ago

The guides, fellow travelers and accommodations were all wonderful!

Sandy E.
4 years ago

Seeing so many bears, including on our deck! Great trails and waterfalls. Also, a great group of women to enjoy it with.

Joan W.
4 years ago

I loved the HIKING, the people, the itinerary and GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK and Appalachian Trail. The lodge was very comfortable and liked having laundry capabilities and the HOT TUB...great location, too, and loved my own room.

Charlotte W.
4 years ago

Exceptional guides who genuinely cared that we had an awesome trip. Itinerary was well-planned and executed. Communication ahead and during the trip was great. Hikes to grotto and laurel falls and hike at nature center was my favorite day but none of the days disappointed

  1. Where do we eat?

    The guides will be cooking breakfasts and most dinners in the lodge. Before you leave in the morning the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you'll take a packed lunch. You'll go out for one breakfast and one dinner where you can order off the menu; other nights you'll relax in the lodge and have dinner there.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    Vegetarian options for this trip are available but may be more limited than you are used to. If you are concerned about having enough protein during your trip, plan to bring some plant-based protein sources such as nut butter, instant dried hummus, or high-protein energy bars. If you cannot eat gluten or if you have other dietary restrictions i.e. vegan, you will need to bring some supplemental food with you.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    No, all the rooms on this trip are singles! On our other trips you only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.