Boyd Gap Brush Creek Overlook of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.
Michele René/age fotostock
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to over 800 miles of trails, and you’ll encounter crowds on only about a dozen of those. Sharing the magical, remote parts of the mountain range is what led husband-and-wife team Erik and Vesna Plakanis to launch a hiking guide company in 1998. Why take a guide? The Smokies are one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, and A Walk in the Woods’ team of naturalists will unlock secrets of the rich flora and fauna’s interconnectivity along your journey. It’s also a fantastic, safe way to try out overnight backpacking, learning about backwoods cooking, emergency preparedness, and gear. Both family and adult trips are available. Booking through the company is also one of the most reliable ways to score a reservation at LeConte Lodge, a sought-after, hike-in-only haven atop its namesake mountain. And if you’re all set for a solo or unguided adventure, there are shuttles and equipment rentals to get your journey started smoothly.