Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling
Picture of Blue Ridge Rambling

Blue Ridge Rambling

Destination: Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina are rich with scenic beauty, opportunities for outdoor adventure, and cultural traditions. Fall, with its crisp air and beautiful fall foliage, is the perfect time to sample all the possibilities, and Montreat provides a peaceful and relaxing setting from which to enjoy it. During our six days we'll combine moderate mountain hiking and whitewater rafting with visiting some of the area's iconic destinations, including the Biltmore Estate, Black Mountain, and Folk Art Center. Maximum group size: 12;


  • Hiking in crisp and cool fall air in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Whitewater rafting on the French Broad River
  • Visiting the Biltmore Estate and Antler Hill Winery
  • Enjoying the very popular towns of Black Mountain and Asheville
  • Relaxing in the beautiful surroundings of Montreat and the warm hospitality of the William Black Lodge

Departures and Prices

September 29 to October 04, 2019
$1825.00 - FULL
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September 27 to October 02, 2020
$1895.00 - Available
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  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • All activities on the itinerary, including whitewater rafting, ziplining, and the Biltmore Estate visit
  • All meals from Sunday dinner through breakfast the next Friday with the exception of one lunch
  • Five nights lodging in single occupancy rooms
  • Transportation during the trip including round trip transfer from the Asheville airport
Not included: Transportation to Asheville, alcoholic beverages, one lunch, optional activities, guide gratuities, and items of a personal nature


This trip is appropriate for any active woman who regularly walks for exercise and wants a vacation that mixes being active in the outdoors with historical and cultural exploration. No particular experience is needed but please note that almost all the hiking involves ups and downs. The trip is rated 2. Prior to beginning the trip, participants should be walking regularly, including hills or stairs, at a brisk pace 3 to 4 days a week for 35 - 45 minutes. Rating: 1 [2] 3 4 5.

On this multisport adventure vacation, we'll combine moderate hiking and whitewater rafting with visiting some of the Blue Ridge Mountains' iconic destinations, including the Biltmore Estate, Black Mountain, and Folk Art Center.

We'll spend five nights at the William Black Lodge in the Montreat Retreat Center. All rooms are clean, comfortable, and have en suite bathrooms. The lodge is known for its delicious, buffet-style meals; we will be eating all breakfasts and three out of five dinners there.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Please plan to arrive at the Asheville Airport (AVL) by 2 pm or at Montreat by 3pm. We'll meet you there and after brief introductions, we'll be on our way to Montreat, our home base for the trip. Located about 18 miles outside of Asheville, this small town/retreat center is known for its peaceful and beautiful setting and great hiking trails. We'll settle into our home for the week and then head out for a hike to introduce you to the area and terrain (lots of rocks and roots) and to stretch your legs The hike is a 2.5 mile loop on part of the Greybeard trail that connects to the Harry Bryant Trail with a short detour to a small waterfall and then ends at the Wildlife Sanctuary. We return to the lodge for our first dinner together. After dinner - those rocking chairs on the front porch may be calling! D.
After a hearty breakfast, we drive about an hour on the famous Blue Ridge Parkway to Mount Mitchell. Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak east of the Mississippi, has an environment that is more similar to Canada than the Southeast. A road ascends to the summit where an observation tower offers panoramic views of the surrounding Black Mountains. Weather permitting our destination today will be Mount Craig, the second-highest peak in the eastern US. The trail begins from the parking lot of Mount Mitchell and trails through a lush, high-elevation forest that’s home to some rare and endangered plants, shaded by sweet-scented spruce and balsam fir trees. While the destination is less than 1 mi. it takes about an hour and does require climbing (part of the way on stairs) as we descend one peak and summit another. On a clear day, however, the reward is great with wide panoramic views from the summit. On the way back we'll stop in the town of Black Mountain, known for its numerous upscale gift shops, galleries, and Appalachian style craft stores, with local craftsmen demonstrating iron works, wood bowl turning, and hand thrown pottery. We'll try not to ruin our appetite with too much ice cream that beckons before gathering for another delicious dinner. B,L,D.
This morning we head west for a great half day of whitewater rafting on French Broad, the area's premiere whitewater river. Our expert raft guides will help us navigate class II and III rapids, suitable for novice and experienced rafters alike. After rafting there are several wonderful choices: zip-lining, hiking, soaking in the mineral waters of Hot Springs, N.C. and/or visiting the town of Hot Springs – all excellent choices! Zip-lining is canopy tour offered by our rafting company where you’ll be zipping from tree to tree in a beautiful mountain setting. The tour is an exciting combination of zips, rappels and short hikes. Not appealing? Then join your guide for a bit of hiking. Choices abound depending on time, energy and weather. Doing a portion of Lovers’ Leap Ridge which is on the Appalachian Trail or possibly doing a trail that runs along the French Broad River. Hiking can be followed by a soak in the local mineral water hot springs! Regardless of your choice, the group will eventually reunite in Black Mountain for dinner at a local restaurant before heading back to the lodge and enjoying the satisfaction of another excellent day. B,L,D.
We'll spend the day visiting Asheville's best known site: the Biltmore Estate. This grand mansion (which is an understatement since, at 178,926 square feet, it is the largest mansion in America) and the 8,000 acre grounds have been impressing people since George Washington Vanderbilt built it in the late 1890s. If you've ever wondered what the Gilded Age looked like, this would be it. We'll spend the morning touring the main house and gardens.
Lunch will be on your own to allow time for exploration after our scheduled tour of the house. There is a lovely cafe next to the house, adjacent to the gardens. Following our house tour, Antler Hill Village beckons with its array of shops it's an adventure into local crafts and plenty of souvenirs. Not into shopping? Other options available: exploring the grounds on foot or by bicycle on some of the 22 miles of hiking/biking trails found on the estate, walking along the French Broad River, through lush green forest, spending more time strolling on the 2.5 miles of paths in the manicured gardens and just enjoying the feel of that glorious Gilded Age. But wait - still more to come - we'll complete the afternoon with a visit to the Antler Hill Winery, the Biltmore winery. We'll learn how the original dairy barn was converted into our state-of-the-art winery, and how they developed a winemaking philosophy. And, of course, no winery tour is complete without the opportunity to taste the product! After touring, hiking, biking, shopping and wine tasting, we'll head back to the inn for dinner and relaxing on the porch! B, D
This morning we return to the Blue Ridge Parkway, this time heading to Craggy Gardens area for a 2.5 mile hike on the Mountains to Sea trail to take in the fall foliage. We'll travel through a stunted high-elevation forest of mostly birch trees, exploring the second-highest Southern Appalachian forest community and another unique environment as well: a high-elevation heath bald. After a picnic lunch you'll have the option to go to the Craggy Pinnacle. This short, moderately steep trail ends in one of the best 360 degree summit views of the entire Blue Ridge Parkway. On the way back we'll stop at the Folk Art Center, home of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Started in 1930, the guild is a band of artists who joined together to create a market for high quality authentic mountain crafts. Their efforts have resulted in keeping traditional crafts alive that might otherwise have been lost. Our day ends with dinner at one of the many local restaurants in Asheville before heading back to the lodge for our last night together on the porch. B,L,D
We end our time here with one final hike: Lookout Mountain. It's probably the most beloved hike in Montreat and a fitting end to our trip. The short, fairly steep, hike brings us to a view that is well worth the effort. The trail ends at a rocky viewpoint overlooking Montreat and the surrounding area, allowing us to see many of the places we've explored this week from a different vantage point. Back at the lodge, we'll have time to clean up before leaving for the airport. We'll have you there by noon and you can plan to fly home any time after 1:30PM. B

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "Did this trip meet your expectations?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

We had a good group of women. The views form the hikes were just gorgeous. The rafting/zipling was awesome. The guides were great.

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018

The highlight was how welcoming and inclusive most of the women were. I have not laughed that much in a long time! From an itinerary perspective, the whitewater rafting was a highlight.

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018

The Biltmore was amazing! I was glad that we were able to remain for the night time exhibition of the Chihuly pieces - I will go back to explore the Biltmore further !

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018

I was not as prepared as I should have been. I went on Smoky mountain trip last year and it was difficult but I participated in all the hikes and was comfortable. I was expecting much the same type of trip and was disappointed that I found myself unable to keep up. I had an injection in my bad knee prior to the trip in anticipation of it being a challenge but it didn't last.

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018

the Biltmore estate and the rafting I was looking for a longer rafting trip. It was over too soon.

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018

Since this was my first trip, I wasn't sure what to expect but it was all I had hoped for and more! It's hard to choose highlights, there were so many! Getting acquainted with new friends, conquering fears ...especially Zip Lining!

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018

Enjoyed the differing activities offered. Loved being able to see the Biltmore and the Chihuly exhibit, especially adding the night portion as well. Thanks!

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018

I enjoy traveling with women's groups, and this was a fun and interesting group of women.

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018

For my first AGC trip, this was a homerun. As a hiker, what I really enjoyed was the multi-sport mix and the rafting and ziplining was my favorite part of the trip. I've never done either, and this was a safe way to push the personal boundary a bit and overcome my trepidation. The pace was brisk for someone not used to being on the go for 12 hours a day. I enjoyed the Biltmore and opportunity to see the Chihuly exhibit too! The trip exceeded my expectations in the warm group dynamic among the women. Kim and Wendy did a great job in getting conversations going and ensuring a positive group dynamic, and we traveled together easily.

Blue Ridge Rambling 9/30/2018-10/5/2018

  1. Where do we eat?

    Your breakfasts and some dinners will be buffet meals at the lodge where you are staying. Other dinners will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu. Before you leave in the morning the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you'll take a packed lunch.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    All the rooms are singles on this trip! But on any of our trips you only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.