John Muir, “Father of the National Parks,”  once said that “the clearest way into the Universe is through a forest of wilderness.” We couldn’t agree more with the Ol’ Johnny of the Mountains … and that’s exactly why Rusty cooked this adventure up for us. The woods, walking, stories, and mountains. Yep, that’s Rusty to the tee. Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 12.01.05 PM

The Great Smoky Mountains timelessly rise up to greet us as we journey through a 7-day backpacking trip on  Appalachian Trail. We’ll be hiking and camping a famed section of this classic route; one that begins by mustering together at Fontana Dam, continues through hiking up Clingmans Dome, before finishing off with cheery high-fives at the Davenport Gap. Our trail section also passes by other notable landmarks in the Smokies, such as Charlies BunionRocky Top, and the historic stone fire tower atop Mt. Cammerer . Our journey is challenging for experienced backpackers and fit beginners alike.  The Appalachian Trail provides a true opportunity to glimpse life on the trail as a thru-hiker — aka, Rusty on The Camino de Santiago de Compostella.

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Each morning, awaken to the symphony of the forest — nature’s choir in the chapel of the trail. We’ll trek past expansive mountain views, traversing narrow ridge-lines, and walking amongst some of North America’s most ancient trees. Our trip culminates with wonder and gratitude, spending the last few hours celebrating with your new travel family of GlobeKickers. Those who choose this adventure know why it is among America’s most iconic national parks and a choice journey among backpackers the world over.

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  • Backpacking
  • Camping


  • Outdoor Camping in tents


Day 1: Welcome to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    • We will gather at the Fontana Dam Shelter on the Appalachian Trail at 8am on our first morning. This will be our entry point to begin our hike into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After introductions to our fellow GlobeKickers and an informational orientation to the week’s adventure, we’ll transfer to the trail head and begin our exploration of this spectacular national treasure.

Fontana Dam – Birch Spring Gap (Day 1 Estimate)

Day Mileage: varies between 3 – 5.5 miles depending on specific conditions and group with +/- 1,500-3,000′ elevation change.

Day 2 - Day 6: Trek The Appalachian Trail and Experience Life as a Thru-Hiker

    • We’ll start each morning with a wholesome breakfast and fresh brewed coffee prepared together as a corps of GlobeKickers. Each day will bring wondrous hiking among old growth Boreal forests and beautiful ridge-line vistas of the most iconic section of Appalachian Trail. We’ll get a real feel for the thru-hiker experience. Each night we’ll set camp and share food, stories, laughs, songs, and snores (but hopefully not too much of that last one). Depending on our progress in route, we may even have a chance to workshop our naturalist skills and/or traverse some more advanced off-shoot bouldering sections of the main trail.

Birch Spring Gap – Russell Field Shelter (Day 2 Estimate)

Russell Field Shelter – Buckeye Gap (Day 3 Estimate)

Buckeye Gap – Newfound Gap, US 441 (Day 4 Estimate)

Newfound Gap, US 441 – Pecks Corner Shelter (Day 5 Estimate)

Pecks Corner Shelter – Cosby Knob Shelter (Day 6 Estimate)

Day Mileage: varies between 6.5 – 13 miles depending on specific conditions and group with +/- 1,500-3,000′ elevation change.

Day 7 - Bask in a last hike spent among your GlobeKick trail family.

    • Today’s journey will be bittersweet as we continue to soak in breathtaking views and panoramas along our last miles back to the trailhead. We’ll cherish these last few hours spent in the remote corners of the United States’ most visited national park with passionate and like-minded new friends.

At Davenport Gap we’ll meet up with our organized van service to shuttle us to the town of Cosby and/or Newport for your night’s accommodations, celebration dinner & beverages, and/or onward travel connection. While your transfer to either of these towns is included, lodging, food, and beverages for this night are not provided by GlobeKick.

Cosby Knob Shelter – Davenport Gap (Day 7 Estimate)

Day Mileage: varies between 6.5 – 13 miles depending on specific conditions and group with +/- 1,500-3,000′ elevation change.

Note on Itinerary

Although we do our best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control. This trip is operated rain or shine // all weather. We’d highly recommend delaying any pre-ordained travel plans until at least the morning after your trip concludes.

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What's Included

Transfer to Day 1 meeting location at the trailhead from Fontana Village

All Great Smokey Mountain National Park permitting (as needed)

All AT Shelter reservations (as needed)



Group Cooking Gear (Stoves and Fuel)

Group First Aid Kit

Water Filter

Trail Maps and Guidance Resources

What's Not Included

Transportation from your hometown to group pickup point in Fontana Village, NC

Insurance of any kind

Lunches & Dinners & Snack Items (see pack list for detailed guidance)

Alcoholic beverages and/or Soft Drinks

Items of a Personal Nature.


April 2019

Group Size

10-15 GlobeKickers

Suggested Airport

McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) Knoxville, Tennessee, United States


Weather varies seasonally. April temperatures generally range from 50°F-80°F during the day and may drop close to freezing at night.

Gear List

  • Backpacking Boots
  • Backpacking Pack (Multiday, 50-80L)
  • Base Layer Tops and Bottoms (Midweight, Synthetic)
  • Fleece/Wool Gloves
  • Fleece/Wool Hat
  • Fleece/Wool Jacket or Sweater
  • Headlamp with Fresh Batteries
  • Hiking Pants (Convertible, Quick-Dry, Lightweight)
  • Hiking Socks (Synthetic or Wool)
  • Lunch Food and Dinner Food and Snacks for Each Day
  • Pack Rain Cover
  • Personal Bathroom Kit: Toilet Paper, Ziplock Bags, Personal Wipes, Hand Cleaner
  • Personal Mess Kit (Bowl/Plate, Cup, Utensils)
  • Prescription Medications
  • Rain Jacket (Hooded, Lightweight, Waterproof, Breathable)
  • Rain Pants (Lightweight, Waterproof, Breathable)
  • Sleeping Bag (15°-29°, Lightweight, Compressible)
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Sun Block and Lip Balm (Small)
  • Sunglasses and Accessories
  • Water Bottles (Three 1-Quart) or Hydration System
  • Whistle


  • Bandana
  • Camp Towel
  • Ear Plugs
  • Energy Snacks and Drink Mixes
  • Hiking Shorts (Quick-Dry, Lightweight)
  • Insect Repellant
  • Large Plastic Garbage Bag
  • Personal Wipes and Hand Sanitizer Gel
  • Sun Hat
  • Tee Shirts (Synthetic)
  • Toiletries
  • Trekking Poles
  • Underwear


  • Camera and Accessories
  • Casual Shoes for Travel and Free Time
  • Compass
  • Eye Mask
  • Insulated Jacket and/or Vest
  • Liner Socks (Synthetic)
  • Maps
  • Reading and Writing Materials
  • Small Multitool
  • Swimwear

Travel Documents

  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Start Date)

The GlobeKicker Gauges

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1 = lowest and 10 = highest