The Smoky Mountains hiking guides profiled below are local or regionally based guides and outfitters who provide guided hiking, backpacking and camping experiences in the Smoky Mountains, usually with an emphasis on natural and human history.
A Brief Introduction to the Smoky Mountains
The Smoky Mountains are a mountain range in North Carolina and Tennessee. They are a part of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The name “smoky” comes from the natural vapor released from trees and vegetation. The Cherokee Indians called it “Blue Smoke”. The Smoky Mountains are home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with 522,419 acres one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States. Over 10 million people visit the park each year making it the most visited park in the U.S. National Park System compared to some six million for Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) and about four million visitors a year for Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho).
The mountains are laced with hundreds of hiking trails, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Mountaintops reached by Smoky Mountains hiking trails include Clingmans Dome (6,643 feet); Mount Le Conte (6,593 feet) and Shuckstack (4,020 feet) and a dozen others.
The four Smoky Mountain hiking guides profiled below provide guided hikes, backpacking, and camping, inside and outside of the national park that can take you beyond the guidebooks to show you trails and outdoor experiences that are not known to the general public
Smoky Mountain Field School
Smoky Mountain Field School is a non-credit branch of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville that offers non-credit, hands-on classes to the public on almost anything imaginable related to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: flora, fauna, Smoky Mountains hiking, Smoky Mountains backpacking, Smoky Mountains wilderness orienteering, tracking, early settler mountain cooking, even beginner’s old-time banjo! If you can relate it to the Great Smoky Mountains somehow, there’s a class for it at the Smoky Mountain Field School. Discover anything you ever wanted to know about the national park that straddles the Tennessee and North Carolina state line.
Read more about Smoky Mountain Field School on Brown’s Guides
Read more about Smoky Mountain Field School on its website
A Walk in the Woods
Since 1998 this Smoky Mountains hiking guide has guided thousands of Smoky Mountains visitors on hiking and backpacking trips, guided nature walks, birding and salamander treks, and most any other kind of natural outdoor experience in the Smokies. As a part of the outdoor experiences, there is always an emphasis on the natural and human history of the region including the Cherokee Indians and the early settlers. Hiker shuttle service is provided even though the hikes may not be being led by A Walk in the Woods. Vesna Plakanis, who owns A Walk in the Woods along with her husband Erik has been called “the John Muir of the Smokies” and a “professor in hiking boots.”
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Smoky Mountain Hiking Tours
Hike for a half-day or a full day on trails that vary in difficulty from strenuous to easy. Hikes leave from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Cherokee and Bryson City, North Carolina, daily. Explore mountain rivers, waterfalls and parts of the Appalachian Trail. Visit historic locations including Moonshiners Cave and Shuckstack Fire Tower. Guides have years of outdoor experience in the region.
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Smoky Mountain Guides
Based in Sevierville, Tennessee, Smoky Mountain Guides provides Smoky Mountains hiking experiences that range from a 3-hour auto tour to a 4-day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. Specific experiences include multi-day Appalachian Trail hikes, custom backpacking trips, “Winter on the Peaks”, father and son experiences, and a base camp adventure where you and your group set up in base camp in large tents and make day trips into the surrounding backcountry. Smoky Mountain Guides is associated with a sister organization, Camp Exodus, which provides affordable wilderness experiences to low-income individuals, those who are widowed or orphaned, and faith-based groups. Smoky Mountain Guides provides funding and equipment for Camp Exodus.
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BG selects guides and outfitters located in or in close proximity to the Natural Areas they provide activities in. These outfitters know the area and care about protecting and preserving it in a way that outfitters based in other states never can.
View a 1:30 slideshow video showing hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains