Best Affordable Fall Adventures
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Scaling the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
The colorful slopes of the Great Smokies provide a great setting for a hut-to-hut trek. You hike between 8 and 12 miles a day, ascending between 1,500 and 2,000 feet while learning about backpacking skills, edible plants, and the rainforest ecosystem. Starting in Gatlinburg, you follow the Appalachian Trail up Clingmans Dome, then ridge-walk through hardwood forests and rocky balds (treeless mountaintops) en route to Derrick Knob. A series of steep hills and descents leads to the three peaks of Thunderhead Mountain. The last leg brings you to a shelter in a mountain meadow.
Cost: $625 per person for REI members, $670 non-members ($20 buys you a lifetime membership), four days.