Smokies Backpacking & LeConte Lodge
June 10, 2023 - June 15, 2023
Group size: 6-8
A rustic mountain lodge atop the third highest peak in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Sleeping at 6,360ft after a warm, home cooked family style dinner. A sunrise hike to arguably the best sunrise spot in the entire park. Hiking along the historic Appalachian Trail and sleeping in trailside 3-walled shelters, some dating back to the 1950s. Biking through a lush valley to explore settlements from the 1820s with abundant wildlife. Sound like a good way to spend a few days of your summer? We thought so too! This trip includes 3 days and roughly 25 miles of backpacking along the Appalachian Trail to the lodge at Mt. Leconte, enjoying views along the way of Alum Cave, Charlie's Bunion, the Jump Off, and Clingman's Dome. After our backpacking trip, we'll switch it up for our legs and take a casual 11-mile bike ride around Cade's Cove to explore the history and wildlife of the Smokies. Time permitting, we will explore some other outstanding views and short trails in the park.
Where: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, fly into Knoxville
Cost: $1050 (payment plans available)
Deposit: $300 (non-refundable)
-First and last night dinners, plus 2 breakfasts
-Shuttle within the park
-Airport transfer to/from Knoxville airport
-Flights to/from Knoxville
-4 lunches, 2 breakfasts, 2 dinners (backpacking food)
-Any additional costs such as souvenirs, drinks, etc.
-BYOG (Bring your own gear!)
Day 1: Our first day is essentially a travel day. Airport pick-up will be provided from Knoxville airport. If you will be driving yourself, please meet us at the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) in Bryson City and plan on leaving your car parked there for the duration of the trip. Once we're all together (yay!), we'll do a group dinner which is included in the trip price, and will be staying in an 8-bunk bunkhouse at the NOC, a popular spot for Appalachian Trail hikers, which sits right on the Nantahala River in North Carolina.
Day 2: Our second day begins with a beautiful morning drive to the park itself. After some photos with the park sign (because ya have to, right?!) and enjoy views along the curvy parkway, we will park our van at Clingman's Dome, our fishing spot, hop in our shuttle van, and be taken to our starting location, the Alum Cave trailhead. From the trailhead, we have a 5.5 mile hike up to the lodge at Mt. LeConte. With over 2,500ft of elevation gain, this one is a thigh burner, but the pay off is worth every step. We'll hike through Arch Rock, along the Alum Cave bluffs, beside mountain streams, and will be rewarded with panoramic views and neat geologic structures. Once we reach the summit, we'll check into our 2-bedroom lodge before enjoying a family-style dinner, served fresh and hot after our tough hike.
Day 3: If you're not a morning person, better have an extra cup of coffee! We'll be getting up early for sunrise today. Myrtle Point, one of the parks most spectacular locations for sunrise, is a short .3 trek from the lodge. Bring your coffee or hot chocolate along. It's better enjoyed with an outstanding view and friends around! After sunrise, our breakfast will be served back at the lodge. Our hike today is 8 miles from LeConte Lodge to Icewater Springs shelter on the Appalachian Trail. We'll visit the Jump Off lookout, drop our gear at the shelter, hike out to Charlie's Bunion for another breathtaking view, and then head back to the shelter to cook dinner and nighttime camaraderie.
Day 4: Today we'll cover around 9 miles, depending on where we feel like stopping. The hike will feature a mix of rocky terrain and underbrush, with some views throughout the day of North Carolina and Tennessee as we straddle the state line. Once we make it to camp, we'll cook dinner together, and kick our feet up and relax for the evening.
Day 5: Today, we'll have a short 2 mile hike to our end point, Clingman's Dome, the highest spot in GSMNP! At 6,643ft, we'll celebrate our accomplishment of our trek with 360° views, but thankfully, the fun isn't over. Back in the van, we'll make the drive to Cades Cove, possibly seeing elk and bears along the way. At Cades Cove, we'll have a nice 11 mile bike ride to visit historic settlements from the 1820s. Some of these building still standing are 200 years old! The valley also boasts some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities. Now that our legs are definitely tuckered out, it's time to treat ourselves to dinner in Gatlinburg, also included in your trip price! Before dinner, we'll check into out hotel, clean up a bit, and head out for food. Hotel is based on sharing queen beds. We'll be friends at this point and will be used to sleeping in shared spaces, but to ensure your own bed if you desire, an additional charge of $100 will be required.
Day 6: Our last day! Also, essentially a travel day. Anyone parked at the NOC will be brought back to their cars, and anyone flying out of Knoxville will be taken to the airport.
*This trip is open to women 18 and up. This trip is beginner friendly! Our longest day will be around 9 miles, however the Smokies do have some big elevation change. If you have never been backpacking before, this is a great stretch of trail to get started on. Although no backpacking experience is required, you do need to be able to hike up to 10 miles with a fully loaded backpack (about 30 pounds). We will be hiking anywhere from 3-6 hours per day. Being in shape and properly preparing yourself for this hike ensures that you have a fun and enjoyable trip, as well as everyone else on the trip! Don't hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns if you're wondering if this is the right trip for you. We're here to help get you on the trail :)
Kennebec River Whitewater Rafting Day
Saturday August 5, 2023
Come join us for a fun day of class III & IV whitewater rafting on the Kennebec River. Meet at North Country Rivers in Bingham, ME at 8am on 8/5/23. Camping and cabins are available for rental through North Country.
Price: $120, includes rafting and lunch
How to book: Call North Country @ 1-800-348-8871 and join “The Girls Trip” on August 5th.
Maine 11-day Adventure
August 23, 2023 - September 2, 2023
Group size: 6-7
(Booking now open! Head to “Sign Up” to secure your spot.)
Where: Maine, USA. Fly in/out of Portland.
Cost: $2950 (payment plans available)
Deposit: $500 (non-refundable) to hold your spot
-Transport to/from Portland Int’l Jetport or close by parking area for guests that are driving in
-All lodging, excursions, and expeditions
-All campsites and backcountry permits
-Most meals, excluding camping/backpacking days (full meal breakdown will be in trip email)
-All transportation for the duration of the trip
-Thorough packing list and gear purchasing advice/recs
-The Girls Trip Adventure Co. tshirt, sticker, and postcard to welcome you to the crew
-A qualified and knowledgeable guide, yours truly!
-Flight/travel expenses to get to Portland
-Backpacking and camping meals
-Any additional costs such as souvenirs, drinks, tips for your guide, etc.
-BYOG (Bring your own gear!)
Remember summer camp when you were younger? A little nervous because you’re making new friends, but you got to go do all these cool and fun outdoorsy activities without a care in the world? And you got to get dirty and get your hair messy and feel like a total badass nature girl? Welp, consider this your Grown Up Summer Camp! With an 10-day itinerary packed with hiking and backpacking, water activities, plus hitting multiple mind-blowing Maine views and a national park, this experience is not for the ones looking for a leisurely vacation. Simply put, this trip is for the ones who can say “Yep, I’m ready to be adventurous af! Let’s do this”. Do you have to be an expert by any means? Not really. But you do need to have some hiking experience under your boots already. This trip includes lots of hiking and if you’ve never hiked in the northeast, let me be first to tell you that it’s not for the faint of heart.
Out trip starts out in Portland, Maine where, after checking into our pad for the night, we will be hopping on a lobstering boat for an evening tour around Casco Bay. Here, we’ll learn about the lobstering industry of Maine, help pull up traps, get up close to some historic forts and lighthouses, and eventually enjoy the sunset while dining on fresh lobster, chowder, mussels, and delicious side dishes plus dessert (Vegetarian options available).
The next couple of days, we will be exploring Acadia National Park. With 4,000 islands and more coastline than the state of California, Maine has so much to offer for coastal hiking and adventuring. We will enjoy a couple of short hikes on the first day. On the second day, we will be up and at it early to enjoy sunrise. Acadia has been said to be the first spot to see the sunrise in the United States. Some consider it a pilgrimage of sorts to view the spectacle from one of the coastal mountains tops. Following daybreak, we will enjoy a sea kayaking tour to navigate around islands and for a chance to view marine wildlife like harbor seals, dolphins, and plenty of birds as well. That afternoon, we’ll make our way inland and head towards the mountains and a night of lakeside camping to prepare for our Bigelows traverse.
For the second stint of our trip, we will be backpacking 19 miles over the Bigelow range on the world-famous Appalachian Trail. This 3-day portion of our trip traverses 5,780ft of elevation gain with steep rock scrambles, a gorgeous and refreshing alpine pond, camping under the stars, and astounding views of central western Maine. You’ll be in awe of the panoramic views atop Avery Peak, and if your thighs aren’t burning yet, I promise they will be by the end of these 19 miles. Without a sense of accomplishment from completing one of the best backpacking trails in the state, a celebratory night of s’mores around a campfire outside of our air-conditioned log cabin is in the cards for us.
Onto our next adventure: a nearly 100-year old fish camp set on the pristine Pierce Pond. Built in 1934, Harrisons Pierce Pond Camp is one of the most authentic Maine getaways you can experience. Few places like this still exist, and I deem it a lesser-known “can’t miss” experience. The food alone is worth the visit to Tim, who cooks a multi-course dinner for you while overlooking the stream and waterfall, followed by a large and hearty breakfast the next morning, and a bagged lunch to take along for a day of exploring. After dinner, we can enjoy an evening swim off the dock in the crystal clear pond as the sun sets and the loons call to one another. We’ll be sleeping in small log cabins with no electricity, just an oil lamp and wood stove and the sound of Pierce Pond stream below the front porch. Harrison’s is a step back into time and nature that is truly unrivaled.
From Harrison’s we’ll bring our bagged lunches along for a short day hike to hit up a wonderful swimming hole and the state’s highest waterfall, Moxie Falls. Maybe try a famous Moxie soda while we’re at it and a whoopee pie to wash the flavor down. The chilly swim spot is a great place to relax and soak your muscles while enjoying your lunch and camaraderie with your travel companions, as well as take some memorable photos to take home with you. From here, we will make the drive up to Millinockett and Baxter State Park for our last stint of the trip. During the drive, we could possibly spot some moose, so be on the lookout!
We have two nights and two days allotted in Baxter to allow for a good weather window to summit Mt. Katahdin. This prized peak tops out at 5,269ft and is the true pinnacle of our Maine adventure. As the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and the highest peak in Maine, this mountain is nothing shy of tremendous and majestic. There is plenty of folklore surrounding the peak, and when you finally climb it, you will truly feel the power and majesty of the mountain. Our planned route will be roughly 10 miles with nearly 4,500 ft in elevation gain. Much of this hiking route is above treeline with steep rock scrambles. Of course, this hike is weather dependent, but even if we don’t get to summit, there is plenty of other great hiking to do in the park, plus lots of canoeing and relaxing to be had after a long trip. On our last evening, we will head back down to Portland to get all cleaned up and re-organized to catch our flights back home the following morning!
As we say here in Vacationland, come experience “Life the way it should be”.