Hiking and Backpacking North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains

Trip Code: SKXA

Why we love it

Enjoy a delicious dinner prepared by your leader as you watch the sunset from the comfort of your camp on the summit of Shining Rock., Take in spectacular views on the hike to the summit of Cold Mountain which features in Charles Frazier’s historic fiction novel of the same name., Take in sweeping views of the Appalachian Mountain Range as you enjoy lunch on the summit of one of the peaks or in the grassy meadows of Ivestor Gap., Stop at Looking Glass Falls, a stunning roadside waterfall, and watch the water tumbling over the top of a high cliff to create an impressively wide cascade., Enjoy scenic vistas galore as you make your way along a trail that showcases views of the entire Pisgah National Forest.

Is this trip right for me?

This is a hiking trip; a good fitness level will help you enjoying all included hikes and activities. Good clothing, appropriate footwear, and wet weather gear is a must.

This trip involves daily hiking ranging in distance from 4-9 miles 6.5-14 km) per day with a total trip distance of up to 22 miles (35 km). The maximum daily elevation gain/loss is 2000 feet (610 m). Please check the trip itinerary for more details.

On this tour you will be required to carry a backpack weighting approximately 35-45 lb (15-20).

On our final day there is no accommodation included so please plan your departure accordingly, or pre-book a post-tour night.

Important information

1. A completed registration form is required to join these trips. You will not be confirmed for the trip until your form has been received and reviewed. We may ask for a medical release signed by your physician for medical conditions or circumstances which could possibly compromise your safety or the safety of others on this trip – please speak to your agent for further details.

2. A signed disclaimer (Acknowledgement of Risks Form) is required at the time of booking for this trip – please speak to your agent for further details.

3. To help ensure this trip is right for you, this trip is subject to additional ‘Essential Eligibility Requirements’ – see the ‘Itinerary Disclaimer’ section of the Essential Trip Information for further details.

4.This trip is operated and run by Wildland Trekking, an Intrepid company. You will be travelling with a mixture of both Wildland Trekking customers and Intrepid customers.

5. Please note, pre-trip orientation meeting will take place at 5:00 PM day before trip starts at Holiday Inn Express & Suits Asheville Downtown hotel in Asheville. We recommend you book a pre tour night in that hotel.

6. A single tent is provided to all solo travellers at no extra cost.

What to bring/pack

The best place to store your luggage and vehicle is at your pre/post trip hotel. We have limited capacity to store extra luggage.

Our thorough packing list considers diverse weather conditions, but we suggest refining it based on the weather forecast 10 days before departure. Before your trip, our guides will reach out to review the list with you, addressing any questions. For newly purchased items, we suggest you keep receipts and tags attached until use, as our guides can provide real-time advice on their necessity. This approach ensures that you are well-equipped for your adventure, no matter what conditions you may encounter.

We provide all group gear which includes the following:

- Deuter or Osprey backpacks
- Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
- Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware synthetic-fill sleeping bags
- Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
- Leki trekking poles
- Cooking stoves and cookware
- Company-issued first-aid kit
- Emergency communication device(s)
- Bear spray cannisters and food-hanging gear (where applicable)

When packing, think layered clothing systems that work together and can be easily added or removed.

Hydration System – 3+ liters capacity, either water bottles or bladder/hose system and an additional water bottle
Headlamp – preferably with an L.E.D. bulb that works with AA or AAA batteries
(Note: always test your headlamp before trips, travel/pack without batteries in device, and for longer trips (4+ days) consider a spare bulb and 1 set of spare batteries)
Sunglasses, Sunscreen, Lip Balm
2 cotton bandanas if hiking in dry and hot conditions
Contact Lenses and Glasses – if you wear contact lenses, please also bring a pair of glasses – your contacts are likely to become dirty and may be difficult to clean
Prescription Medication – please inform your trip leader of any medications you are taking
Toiletries – small amounts, travel sizes and/or just what you need for the trip

Hiking Boots/Shoes – mid-weight, lug-soled, and ideally well broken in
(Note: buy your boots/shoes 1/2 size to 1 size larger than your street shoes to allow for feet swelling and thicker socks)
Secondary Footwear – supportive, lightweight, well-drained shoe or sport sandal for creek crossings and/or for camp comfort
Hiking Socks – one pair for every two days of your trip, plus an extra pair to sleep in. Hiking-specific padded socks, no cotton please!
(Note: wearing thin liner socks under your hiking socks can help prevent blisters)
Sun Hat – wide brimmed hat or baseball cap/bandana combo
Cotton T-shirts if hiking in dry and hot conditions – 2 short and/or long sleeve cotton t-shirts.
(Note: When hiking in hot and dry weather only. Cotton retains moisture and helps to cool the body down in hot, arid desert environments. Cotton shirts are critical garments in terms of safety and comfort in the hotter months.)
Hiking Shirt – 1-2 non-cotton, breathable short or long sleeve shirts
(Note: long sleeve shirts provide better sun protection)
Warm Top – mid-weight sweater or pullover of wicking material such as merino wool, fleece or polypropylene
Hiking Pants & Shorts – nylon pants AND shorts, zip-offs or leggings
Rain Gear – breathable waterproof jacket

If you are traveling between October and April, or if you are hiking in a destination at high elevation or experiences cold overnight temperatures, you should come prepared with some additional cold weather gear. Check the weather forecast for your trip and add cold weather gear as needed.

Warm Hat & Gloves – lightweight beanie/toque and light-to-mid weight fleece or wool gloves
Additional Hiking Shirt – 1 additional non-cotton, breathable long sleeve shirt
Mid Layer Insulating Jacket – down-fill or synthetic-fill insulated “puffy” jacket or warm, heavy-weight fleece jacket
Base Layer/Long Underwear – 1 pair of wicking tops and bottoms that are lightweight to midweight, synthetic wicking materials such as polyester, polypropylene, merino wool…etc.
Rain Pants – waterproof pants, breathable fabric such as Gore-Tex® or coated nylon. Look for side zippers that will allow you to pull them over your boots.
Important Note: Please, no cotton hiking clothes with the exception of the “Cotton T-shirts” section above (which are important!)

Swimsuit – only if swimming is an option on your trip
Camp Pillow – lightweight, compressible and packable
Stuff Sacks – various sizes for better organization of clothing & gear, and/or to help create a camp pillow, etc.
(Note: A lightweight waterproof stuff sack can be extremely useful in wet conditions)
Support Braces – consider bringing any joint braces that may be currently needed or from past injuries (i.e. knee, ankle, elbow, etc…)
Camp Reading Material – lightweight paperback book, magazine or small notebook/pen for journaling
Cell Phone or Camera
Spare Batteries – for camera, headlamp or other electronics
Solar Charger or Charging Bank – small, lightweight devices to recharge electronics
Quick Dry Towel – lightweight, compressible and packable – bandanas also work
Insect repellant
Ear plugs and eye mask
Personal medical kit. A larger kit will be on hand with your leader, but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, antihistamine tablets and any personal medication you may need

Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables. It’s also recommended to bring a copy of all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.

Physical rating


You’re in for a walking trip and a good level of fitness is essential. Please read through the trip notes carefully to ensure that this trip is the right trip for you.

If you’re already a regular exerciser, it might be an idea to up your game a little. Run those extra laps, or take few longer walks, ideally with a day pack on your back. If you’re not exercising so regularly (2-3 times a week), it’s important to start in the weeks leading up to your departure (4-6 weeks prior at least). Your best choice would be to start walking regularly 2-3 times a week including at least one longer walk (up to 15 km). It’s important to not only walk on flat surface, so if you cannot access a hilly terrain easily, walking up and down the stairs is a good replacement. Top that up with some general fitness exercises and any other cardio related classes and you will see a huge progress in your fitness levels.

This trip involves daily hiking ranging in distance from 4-9 miles 6.5-14 km) per day with a total trip distance of up to 22 miles (35 km). The maximum daily elevation gain/loss is 2000 feet (610 m). Please check the trip itinerary for more details.

On Day 1 we hike over some rocks and a few washed out areas and then move to a relatively flat trail to camp. Day 2 will be the most demanding day as we gain significant elevation over rocks and roots to the summit of Cold Mountain, then return to camp the way we came. Day 3 is a relatively easy day back to the trailhead. You should be able to hike uphill or downhill with a 25-35 lb (11-16 kg) backpack for 6-8 hours while maintaining balance and footing on moderately rugged terrain

Joining your group

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Asheville Downtown, 42 Tunnel Road, Asheville, 28805, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Alternate Joining Point

Joining instructions

Finishing your trip

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Asheville Downtown, 42 Tunnel Road, Asheville, 28805, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Alternate Finish Point

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 3

Lunches included: 3

Dinners included: 2

On a backpacking trip, you’ll tuck into tasty, flavour-packed meals to fuel your outdoor adventures. Along with foods that are ideal for camping like pastas, lentils, packaged meats, breads, and granola, you’ll also be offered snacks like trail mix and dried fruits. Vegan, vegetarian, kosher, non-gluten diets, and food allergies can usually be accommodated at the same cost or for an additional fee. All meals on your trip are included and prepared by your experienced outdoor guide.

Climate & seasonal information

In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the summers are long, warm, and humid; the winters are short, very cold, and wet; and it is partly cloudy year round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 29°F to 84°F and is rarely below 14°F or above 90°F.

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader or local representative may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the group leader or local representative to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the numbers below:

Intrepid local operator : Available for phone call on +30 697 800 6335 

In case of an emergency, local authorities can be contacted by calling 911 – this is the toll free phone number for the police, fire department and the ambulance in the USA and Canada. In case of doubt, call the operator on 0.

Intrepid's Local Operator: +1 928 224 0699


You’ll camp in beautiful, well-located campgrounds and spend the night in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents with self-inflating sleeping pads and synthetic-fill sleeping bags which are professionally laundered after every trip.