backpacking Trips In the smokies


Backpacking in the Great Smoky Mountains

 The Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers the geographic area of the most BIO-DIVERSE ecosystem in the Northern hemisphere. Chock full of history, ecological diversity, and geological wonders, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most breathtaking National Park in the United States. Offering plenty of options for adventure and exploration, waterfalls and mountaintops, all four seasons, and varied trip difficulties, the Smoky Mountains provide a rich and rewarding experience for people of all skill levels. Our guided backpacking trip itineraries cater to the weekend warrior as well as the seasoned backcountry connoisseur. At American Wild Trekking Company we pride ourselves on matching backpacking trip styles and lengths to each individual utilizing our service. Come join us for your next foray into the backcountry and see just how exciting an adventure awaits.

The American Wild Trekking Company… More than a vacation.  


2 days 1 night



Alum Cave Trail to Trillium Gap Trail

2 Day Trip
Total Trip Mileage: 11.5 Miles
Moderate Difficulty
Average Mileage per day: 5.4 miles
Elevation Gain/ Elevation Loss: 2700 Gain, 3300 Loss



  • See an original Civil War era salt peter mine

  • View Peregrine Falcons diving after prey from Peregrine ridge

  • Spend the night in the highest shelter in Smoky Mountain National Park

  • Hike behind Grotto Falls

  • Lighter pack weight


DAY 1 - 5 Miles

We start our morning hiking up the Alum Cave Trail, one of the most varied and beautiful trails in Smoky Mountain National Park. Starting next to Alum Cave Creek we will break away and hike through Arch Rock to Peregrine Ridge. After taking a small break at Alum Cave Bluffs we begin our ascent to the top of Mount Leconte, the 3rd highest mountain in Smoky Mountain National Park at 6593 feet tall. Upon peaking out we will explore Leconte Lodge, the highest lodge east of the Mississippi River and view cliff top, the highest continuous drop in the park, 300 feet straight down.

DAY 2 - 6.5 MILES

Our day will be spent descending from the mountaintop, breathtaking views all around. The path we take to the bottom is the same route that the Leconte Llamas take to bring supplies up to the lodge. We will pass Twin Falls and Grotto Falls, the only waterfall you can literally hike behind in the National Park.

$450 Per Person


2 Days 1 Night



Fork Ridge to Deep Creek

2 day trip
Total Trip Mileage: 16.1 Miles
Moderate trip difficulty
Average mileage per day: 8 Miles
Elevation Gain/ Elevation loss: Gain 500, Loss 3900



  • Short excursion into the backcountry

  • Expansive Views

  • One of the oldest trails in the park. Designed by R.P. White.

  • Some of the deepest swimming holes in the park

  • Waterfall views



Day 1 - 9.4 Miles


We begin our descent from Clingmans dome road down Fork Ridge. All encompassing views the first day contrast perfectly with creekside camping and swimming holes the second.

Day 2 - 6.7 Miles

After we break camp we begin our hike down Deep Creek. The is one of the oldest and broadest hiking trails in the park. Deep sinks allow for prime swimming and our low mileage today allows us to saunter and take our time as we drink in the refreshing sound of the creek. Near the end of our day on the trail we will see Juney Whank falls before heading back to town.

$450 Per Person


3 Days 2 Nights

BIG CREEK/ Mt. sterling loop



3 Day Trip
Total Trip Mileage: 17.2 Miles
Moderate Difficulty
Average Mileage Per Day: 5.7
Elevation Gain/ Elevation Loss: 4000 Gain, 4000 Loss



  • Camp at the base of Mt. Sterling Fire Tower

  • Hike along Mount Sterling Ridge

  • Two Waterfalls along route, Midnight Hole Falls and  Mouse Creek Falls


Day 1 - 5.3 Miles

We begin our day hiking up Big Creek. We will take a dip at Midnight Hole Falls and enjoy the forest in this scenic lush creek bed. Onward, we will pass Mouse Creek Falls and make camp at Walnut Bottom, the former Crestmont logging camp.

Day 2 - 5.8 Miles

Today will be filled with ascent and views as we take Sterling Ridge and walk a mile high to our campsite for the evening. The camp is at the base of Mount Sterling Fire Tower, which you can climb if you desire. Views of the Pigeon River Gorge, the Cataloochee Valley, and the Unaka Mountains are the cherry on the top of a full days hike and complete our trek for the day.

Day 3 - 6.1 Miles

Our final day in this portion of the park will be a day of descent, much needed and much appreciated. We walk off of the Mount Sterling Ridgeline and down the Benton MacKaye Trail back to the Big Creek Ranger station, a fine cathartic finish to a rewarding 3 days in the backcountry.

$650 Per Person


3 Days 2 Nights

Abrams Falls & Gregory BALD LOOP


Abrams Falls & Gregory Bald Loop

3 day trip
Total Trip Mileage: 24 Miles
moderate difficulty
Average mileage per day: 8 miles
Elevation Gain/ Elevation Loss:  3400 Gain, 3000 Loss



  • Swim in Abrams Falls

  • Isolated backcountry campsites

  • Expansive views of Cades Cove from Gregory Bald

  • Hike an original portion of the Appalachian Trail


Day 1 - 6.2 Miles

We begin our day by hiking up Gregory Ridge through rhododendron thickets and past a rushing creek. We will have expansive views of Cades Cove and discuss Russell Gregory once we reach the bald. Most of our ascent for the duration of the trip will be on day one. We camp at Sheep Pen Gap and drink in the view from Gregory Bald while we eat a well deserved backcountry dinner.

Day 2 - 12 Miles

Today will take us Down from Gregory Bald and across Hannah Mountain. We will be hiking one of the most isolated trails in Smoky Mountain National Park today, so solitude is guaranteed. The mileage is offset by the gradual downhill descent to the creek valley below. We pitch camp next to Rabbit Creek for the night.

Day 3 - 6.2 Miles

Our final day will be highlighted by a rushing creek crossing and a visit to Abrams Falls or a descent along Rabbit Creek back to Cades Cove. Weather and ability will be taken into account given each option. Each option is beautiful and rewarding.

$650 Per Person


4 Days 3 Nights


smoky-mountains sunset.jpeg

Mountains to Sea Trail through the SmokIES

4 Day Trip
Total Trip Mileage: 40.3 Miles
Strenuous Trip Difficulty
Average Mileage Per Day : 10.1
Elevation Gain/ Elevation Loss: 8500 Gain, 9700 Loss



  • The only professional backpacking guiding company to offer Mountains to Sea trail trips.

  • Finish the first section of the 1200 mile long trail.

  • Walking along Deep Creek, with its cascades and rock falls

  • Campsite #57, Horace Kephart’s last camp

  • Chasteen Creek Falls


Day 1 - 9.4 Miles

We begin our descent from Clingmans Dome road down Fork Ridge. All encompassing views the first day contrast with our creekside camp for the evening. Horace Kepharts last camp and the millstone marked to commemorate him signify the end of our hike for the day while we relax next to the waters of Deep Creek.

Day 2 - 13.5 Miles

Our day begins by breaking away from Deep Creek and heading past Martins Gap to Sunkota Ridge. Views on all sides greet us as we descend towards Smokemont, the main horse camp of the Eastern Smokies. We camp next to Chasteen Creek for the evening.

Day 3 - 10.6 Miles

Today we pass Chastene Creek Cascades on our ascent past Hughes Ridge. We walk next to Enloe Creek until we take Hyatt Ridge and pass Hyatt Bald to camp next to Mcgee Spring.

Day 4 - 8.5 Miles

We wake up and descend from Hyatt Bald to Straight Fork and up to Beech Gap. This is a day spent on ridgelines and Balds. Our final Bald of the day will be Ledge Bald as we descend to our pickup location at Pin Oak Gap.

$850 Per Person


5 Days 4 Nights

Appalachian Trail Southbound


Clingmans Dome To Lake Fontana

5 Day Trip
Total Trip Mileage: 33.7 Miles
Moderate to Strenuous Trip Difficulty
Average Mileage Per Day : 6.5 Miles
Elevation Gain/ Elevation Loss: 2450 Gain, 7400 Loss



  • Hike down the A.T. to Lake Fontana and Fontana Dam

  • Our trip begins at the highest elevation in Tennessee

  • Hike over Rocky Top

  • Climb to the top of Shuckstack Fire Tower


Day 1 - 5 Miles

We start our hike descending from the highest peak in the Smokies with expansive views of the coming ridgelines that we will be traversing on our expedition. In the evening we will find ourselves at Silers Bald Shelter.

Day 2 - 6 Miles

We wake up to the prospect of ridgewalking along the Tennessee/North Carolina border passing Buckeye Gap, Hemlock Knob, and Big Chestnut Bald before we hit our shelter for the evening at Derrick Knob.

Day 3 - 6.5 Miles

Today we pass Rocky Top on our way to our shelter for the night. A major point of interest along the trail and also one of the most isolated areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Always brings the song "Rocky Top" to mind as we hike past it. We spend the night in Spence Field Shelter.

Day 4 - 6 Miles

We will be walking down to Mollies Ridge Shelter today. On the way we will pass Russell Field and Devils Tater Patch before we reach our destination.

Day 5 - 10.2 MILES

We wake up bright and early to finish our final descent of the week to Fontana Dam. Along the way we will pass Doe Knob and climb Shuckstack Fire Tower for a final breathtaking view before we meet our pickup at Fontana Dam.

$1050 Per Person


4 or 5 Days 3 or 4 Nights

Appalachian Trail Northbound


Newfound Gap to Big Creek

4 to 5 Day Trip (Depending on desired mileage & shelter availability)
Total Trip Mileage: 32 Miles
Moderate to Strenuous Trip Difficulty
Average Mileage Per Day : 8 Miles
Elevation Gain/ Elevation Loss: 3700 Gain, 6600 Loss



  • Famous Appalachian Trail Views

  • Spending our night in Appalachian Trail Shelters

  • Hike in the most remote locations in the National Park

  • Charlies Bunion

  • Lighter pack weight due to not carrying tents

  • Mount Cammerer Fire Tower


Day 1 - 10.4 Miles

We start our day by hiking from NewFound Gap to Charlies Bunion for lunch. Charlies Bunion is one of many renowned remote viewpoints in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. After lunch we will pass over Dry Sluice Gap and on to the sawteeth, a jagged outcrop of rock that offers views in all directions. We pass over Laurel Top and head on down to our shelter for the night- Pecks Corner.

Day 2 - 13.3 Miles

We depart Pecks Corner Shelter and pass multiple high points along the trail today. We will pass Mount Guyot, the second highest peak in the park, on our way to Cosby Knob shelter this day.

Day 3 - 7.3 Miles

Today will be spent heading mostly downhill. We have a chance to head off on a side trail to the fire tower at Mount Cammerer. It is considered by many to be the most beautiful summit in the Smoky Mountains. After our summit we had down to Davenport Gap shelter for our final night in the Smokies.

Day 4 - 3.1 Miles

Our final day we will sleep in and take time eating breakfast and recounting the adventures of the week. We head back up trail a bit to hit Chestnut Branch and reach our pickup location.

$850-1050 Per Person