Picture of Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies
Picture of Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies
Picture of Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies
Picture of Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies
Picture of Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies

Destination: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is world famous for the diversity of its plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and many excellent hiking trails. Our annual trip is a great way to begin your hiking season. Designed to give you an overview of one of our most treasured National Parks, our trip will give your hiking legs a great spring beginning to the hiking season. We'll see wildflowers and waterfalls, hiking at a leisurely pace to enhance our enjoyment of the scenery, take time to take pictures and identify flowers, and soak those 'winter tired' feet in beautiful pools at the edge of waterfalls. Whether you are intrigued by salamanders or birds, wildflowers or trees, waterfalls or mountain vistas, learning about the fascinating cultural history, or just seeking less traveled paths, you will quickly understand why the Great Smokies have been designated both an International Biosphere reserve and a World Heritage Site. On this trip we extend a special invitation to women over 50 and to anyone wanting leisurely hikes. Maximum group size: 12;


  • Seeing up to 30 species of wildflowers on any hike
  • Rafting a fun section of the Pigeon River (suitable for women with no experience)
  • Visiting Little Greenbrier Community and learning about the people who lived here
  • Hiking beautiful trails, and lunch everyday next to a waterfall
  • Gazing at the view from the hot tub and luxuriating in your own private room

Departures and Prices

April 12 to April 18, 2020
$1995.00 - Available
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April 19 to April 25, 2020
$1995.00 - Available
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  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Six nights lodging in a private room with ensuite bathroom
  • All meals from dinner on Sunday through breakfast Saturday
  • Transportation to/from the Knoxville airport (TYS) and transportation during the trip
  • White water rafting and rafting guide gratuities

Not included: Airfare to/from Knoxville (TYS), alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities, and any optional activities.


This trip is appropriate for any woman who exercises regularly at a moderate level (such as going for 45 minute brisk walks 3 to 5 days a week), and who either enjoys hiking or is new to hiking and wants to learn in a safe and fun environment. On this trip there is a special emphasis on cultural and natural history and stopping to smell the flowers (literally). Rating:1 [2]3 4 5

This trip combines hiking with learning about the natural and cultural history of the area. With lots of instruction and tips to make your hiking more enjoyable, this is an ideal trip for novice hikers. You can also learn to identify the many wildflowers found here.

On this trip we stay the entire week in a luxury lodge, perched on a mountainside just outside Gatlinburg. There are 12 private rooms (some with king beds and others with Queens) all with private bathrooms. Amenities include a pool table, a covered porch with rocking chairs and a great view, a hot tub, fireplace, and a large dining and living room. Everyone gets her own bedroom on this trip. Rooms are assigned by lottery.
If you are coming with someone with whom you would like to share a room and bed, there is a 10% discount (limited to 2 people).

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.

This itinerary may be modified based on weather and where the wildflowers are best.

If you're flying in, we'll meet you at the Knoxville Airport at noon. After driving to the Park, we start with an introduction to the cultural history of the Smokies by visiting the area once known to early settlers as the Little Greenbrier Community. We'll visit the Little Greenbrier School (first opened in 1882), a pioneer cemetery, and the Walker Sisters cabin and home site. This slightly ascending trail is along an old roadbed. If you are driving, please plan to be at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic parking lot (south side) by 2:00 pm. Little Brier Gap Trail, 2.6 miles. Dinner tonight is at our lodge and you’ll be treated to a typical southern bar-b-que dinner, complete with hush puppies and corn on the cob! (D)
Our trail today rises at a steady, moderate grade as it passes through a forest of large Eastern Hemlocks and Fraser magnolias and then into a moist, sheltered cove hardwood forest. Well-known for its incredible display of wildflowers in April and May, the forest floor can be carpeted with up to 30 to 40 species of wildflowers. Rich in cultural history as well, Porters Creek trail passes the old Baxter Cabin, stone walls, an old cantilevered barn and the Owenby Cemetery, all remnants of the time that a thriving community lived here. We will hike to Fern Branch Falls and have lunch before turning back. Porters Creek Trail, about 4 miles. Dinner tonight will begin with appetizers and continue with the first of several ‘home made’ meals by your guides, ending with (of course!) dessert! (B, L, D)
Our first stop this morning will be the Sugarlands Visitors Center where we'll take the opportunity to learn more about the park, its history and its natural inhabitants through the orientation film and their natural history museum. Then - back to hiking and the search for wildflowers! Traveling off the beaten path, today's trail leads into a natural limestone sink. White Oak Sink is home to many rare plants, various caves, and a waterfall that flows into a cave, offering unique opportunities to learn about the geology, natural history, and cultural history of the area. Spring wildflowers abound in the sink, coating the trail side with a beautiful variety of colors. Our hike begins on the School House Gap trail, an old roadbed with an easy uphill grade. Shortly we'll turn off the Schoolhouse Gap trail onto the trail to White Oak Sink, an unmaintained trail with occasional steep ascents and descents. After our hike we’ll head back to the lodge for some well-deserved relaxation, and - tonight is pizza night! Also well deserved! White Oak Sink, 5.0 miles (B, L, D)
Ready to give your legs a break and see a completely different part of the ecosystem? We'll enjoy breakfast out at the Log Cabin Pancake House and then onto the white water of the Pigeon River! Although the rapids are large enough to be exciting, the trip is completely appropriate for novice rafters. Returning to Gatlinburg we'll stretch our legs as we walk out to Laurel Falls (2.4 miles on a paved trail) the most visited falls in the park. Back at the lodge, perhaps the hot tub or just relaxing in rockers on the porch before another homemade dinner! (B, L, D)
Today our morning will take us to Grotto Falls hike - one of the more spectacular waterfalls in the park and the only one you can actually walk behind! The trail is a moderate 2.6-mile hike through a hardwood cove offering great wildflower spotting as well as views across the valley. After our hike, we will return to our condo for lunch and a few choices. The afternoon is free and there are no bad choices! Your guides will offer the opportunity journey to the highest points of the park -- New Found Gap (with a short walk on the Appalachian Trail) and Clingman's Dome, at 6,643 feet the highest point on the eastern side of the U.S., a visit to the historic Bud Ogle's farm where we’ll take the 1.2-mile nature hike and explore what a typical homestead was like in this part of the country, including a plume for water and a grist mill, enjoying downtown Gatlinburg, or, since it is vacation, you might want to just spend a relaxing afternoon back at the lodge, enjoying the porch or hot tub. Your guides will help you sort out the options and help you get where you want to go. Or, maybe ice cream is in your afternoon - just an appetizer before another meal at the Lodge. Mileage will vary depending on choices made. (B, L, D)
Our trek today will take us through Eastern Hemlock and deciduous forests as we hike along the Maddron Bald Trail. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC), the trail begins as an old roadbed and rises consistently, though moderately, throughout its entire length. Albright Grove, named for Horace Albright who was an advocate for the park and a director for the National Park Service, is an awesome remnant of old growth forest. Here you will experience the sights, sounds, and feel of this home to ancient trees. We'll have plenty of time to stroll among and admire the grand Eastern Hemlocks, silverbells, Fraser magnolias, tulip trees, and other tree species before returning along the Maddron Bald Trail. We’ll return to the lodge with plenty of time to ‘freshen up’ and head into Gatlinburg to share our last dinner together at one of the many local restaurants. Albright Grove and Maddron Bald Trail, 6.7 miles. (B, L, D)
It's our last morning in the Smokies but we'll continue to savor every minute! We'll take our time this morning, enjoy our last breakfast together and the view from the lodge, before making our way back. We'll fit in a visit to Sugarlands Visitors Center for one last chance for any items you may just have to have and even have time to walk the nature trail to Cataract Falls. After that, we reluctantly head to the Knoxville airport. If you're driving, you can plan to leave by 10 a.m. If you're flying, we'll return you to the Knoxville airport by 11:00 am for a flight out after 12:00 noon. (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.

Lodging and meals exceeded my expectations, but the hiking part was a little bit less intensive than I'd like it to be, even though it's rated 2. I would like it to be a longer in distance.

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/21/2019-4/27/2019

leaders sarah and carrie were so on top of everything and so informative and patient waterfalls - great food before hikes and after

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/21/2019-4/27/2019

There was too much lodge time. I would have preferred to be in vehicles on way to a hike no later than 7:30 to 8:00. I would have preferred longer hikes too.

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/21/2019-4/27/2019

Hiking up Clingmans Dome Peak, white water rafting, many beautiful wild flowers

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/21/2019-4/27/2019

Staying in one place all week.The lodge was wonderful. Hiking and the weather. Education (history and natural world)taught by our guides Food was awesome Ladies on trip were great.

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/21/2019-4/27/2019

The quality of the lodging and food were outstanding for the price. The highlights were the hikes, with the guides in depth knowledge of the plants, animals and history of the area. The raft trip was great.

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/21/2019-4/27/2019

This was my first trip with AGC

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/14/2019-4/20/2019

The beautiful Smokies, the hikes, the guides and the wonderful ladies

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/14/2019-4/20/2019

Fabulous, knowledgeable guides, Environmental and lodging venues. Better than average group cohesiveness.

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/14/2019-4/20/2019

Carrie showed and described the flowers. Gina made sure we kept hydrated in a friendly manner!

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/14/2019-4/20/2019

One of the highlights was the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. The trip was timed perfectly for the blooming of wildflowers, and the dogwood was spectacular. Another highlight was the guides. They were organized, helpful, and fun. I also enjoyed the group experience, as I got lucky and the ladies in the group were very warm and friendly.

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/14/2019-4/20/2019

You guys did not fail at all. The only failure was in an obligation I felt to take care of my family member

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/14/2019-4/20/2019

The guides were incredible, loved our location and private rooms!

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/14/2019-4/20/2019

The guides were exceptional

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/14/2019-4/20/2019

The highlights were the participants and the guides, the beautiful lodging, whitewater rafting.

Wildflowers & Waterfalls: Exploring the Great Smokies 4/14/2019-4/20/2019

  1. Where do we eat?

    The guides will be cooking breakfasts and most dinners in the lodge. Before you leave in the morning the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you'll take a packed lunch. You'll go out for one breakfast and one dinner where you can order off the menu; other nights you'll relax in the lodge and have dinner there.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    Vegetarian options for this trip are available but may be more limited than you are used to. If you are concerned about having enough protein during your trip, plan to bring some plant-based protein sources such as nut butter, instant dried hummus, or high-protein energy bars. If you cannot eat gluten or if you have other dietary restrictions i.e. vegan, you will need to bring some supplemental food with you.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    No, all the rooms on this trip are singles! On our other trips you only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.