• Exploring the city of Asheville
  • Hiking in Southern Appalachian
  • Camping & enjoying delicious campfire cuisine
  • Cherokee cultural & history immersion
  • Conservation service learning program
  • Whitewater rafting

Get ready for an adventure in the Southern area of the Appalachian Mountains. This subrange is called the Great Smoky Mountains and encompasses some of the oldest mountains on earth. The Great Smoky Mountains are the ancestral home of the Cherokee tribe, and the name “Smoky Mountains” is derived from the Cherokee word “Shaconage” (Sha-Kon-O-Hey), which means “land of the blue smoke”. The blue smoke comes from the vapor released from the vegetation were the water and hydrocarbons scatter blue light from the sky. We begin this trip in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina, where we will have part of the Appalachian ecosystem right out the gates. The city is a great starting point for the outdoor adventure waiting for us. During this trip, we will enjoy the beautiful forest while hiking and camping under the tall canopy of deciduous trees. We will also volunteer along side a conservation organization and learn about wildlife and how to preserve the environment in the National Forest. This week full of outdoor adventure, service work, and indigenous immersion!


Starting Point:



Grading:Introductory to Moderate   

Welcome to beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. Our World Expeditions Schools representative will be waiting for us at the Asheville Regional Airport. After we have collected our bags, we jump into the van and head to our hostel in Asheville. To get acquainted with our surroundings and the upcoming activities, we will have an introduction orientation and safety briefing. We will then head out to dinner at one of Asheville’s local restaurants. After dinner, we head back to the hostel and our guide provides the plan for the next day.

Meals:  D

After breakfast, we start our day with a scenic drive to the high country of the Pisgah National Forest for a day hike among several 6,000+ peaks. Our route will include scenic mountain vistas from the Black Balsam mountains and potentially include Tennent Mountain (6,040 feet) and Black Balsam Knob (6,214 feet) and Sam Knob (6,050 feet) plus part of the famed Art Loeb Trail. The trail is named for the famous local conservationist and hiker who protected these mountains and promoted the area as a recreational mecca. At this high elevation, we’ll be hiking in a spruce-fir forest, a remnant of the last ice age and a unique fixture at the highest elevations of the Southern Appalachians. We break for packsack lunch and enjoy the scenery. After our hike, we will travel down the mountain to our campsite, where we will set up our tents, eat dinner, and discuss tomorrow’s adventures around the campfire.

Meals:  B,L,D

After a hearty camp breakfast, we travel to the nearby DuPont State Forest and hike to some of the most popular waterfalls in North Carolina. Our hike will take us through dense forests of lush rhododendron and towering trees and as we move into the more remote areas, be on the lookout for wildlife such as black bears, whitetail deer, snakes, or the elusive and stealthy bobcat. But don't worry, our experienced guide will make sure we keep a safe distance. After a collection of waterfalls and a stop for packsack lunch, we will stop for a swim at Sliding Rock, a natural water slide on Looking Glass Creek. Finally, we will stop by the Cradle of Forestry Museum to learn about the history of logging in Southern Appalachia and the development of modern forestry practices. Back at the campsite, we prepare dinner and gather for a reflection around the campfire before it's time for bed.

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning after breakfast, we’ll break camp and then travel in the van along the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, sometimes called America's Favorite Drive. The parkway is a National Scenic Highway and part of the National Park Service. This stunning and relaxing drive takes us over the mountains towards the southern entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the historic town of Cherokee. Upon arrival in Cherokee, we will meet our local guide. The first thing we will get to learn is about Cherokee dance and the role it plays in their everyday culture. Storytelling also holds a special place for the Cherokee people, and you will hear many different legends that have been told from generation to generation. After the storytelling session, we will break and have lunch, then head through an exhibit. After this cultural immersion, we will be heading to the Nantahala Outdoor Center. The center is located at the intersection of the Nantahala River, which is one of the premier whitewater kayaking and rafting rivers, in the world. The base camp lodge will be our home for the next two nights. We prepare dinner and debrief the new insights and learnings before its bedtime.

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning our focus turns back to the trails. After breakfast, we will work with our conservation non-profit organization to help learn what it takes to conserve and preserve the public land known as the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We will work alongside a trail crew to help restore the trails in popular areas of the park. We will break for lunch and continue to work for a couple of hours in the afternoon. When we are done with the service project, we will drive through the National Park from south to north. We will by-passing the famous Newfound Gap on our way to Clingmans Dome, the highest mountain in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the highest point on the Appalachian trail! We will have some time to enjoy the views before heading down the mountain. Back at the campsite, we prepare dinner and gather for star gazing before bedtime.

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning after breakfast, it's time for rafting! Before we hit the rapids, we meet with our rafting guides for a safety briefing. When we have all equipment needed like helmets and life jackets it's time for world-renowned whitewater rafting. We will spend 2-3 hours on the river and then head back to Asheville. We will check into our hostel, get organized, and head out to our celebratory dinner. After dinner, we reflect on what we have learned during this adventurous trip!

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning, you will have breakfast, pack your things and head back to Asheville regional airport. We hope you have had a wonderful and educational trip.

Meals:  B

Learning outcomes for students

A World Expeditions Schools adventure is a unique learning experience. Our journeys are designed to encourage thriving and positive youth development along with leaving the communities and environments where we travel in a better condition than when we arrived.
The programs are designed to enhance the following life skills that will help you grow as an individual:
• the confidence to lead a group and make decisions
• the value of working together as a cohesive team to achieve a common objective
• the ability to face mental and physical challenges
• the ability to adapt to new environments outside of their 'comfort zone'
• to appreciate and care for the natural environment. The environments we trek through are beautiful and often pristine, invariably the students will gain a deeper appreciation and understanding about how their individual actions impact on the environment
• build strong friendships and bonds with their peers and also the local peoples
• basic outdoor skills obtained on trek such as personal hygiene, pitching a tent, helping to prepare meals
Importantly our adventures help increase general well-being and build resilience in young citizens to help them deal with adverse situations in life.
World Expeditions Schools absorbs the cost of credits mitigating 100% of the unavoidable carbon emissions. This is our commitment to being part of the solution to climate crises.


  • All accommodation as per the itinerary
  • All meals as per detailed itinerary
  • Private vehicle transfers
  • Expert wilderness guides
  • All group camping equipment (tents, kitchen gear, water filters, etc)
  • Park fees and permits

  • Flights
  • Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Sleeping bag, pillow and hiking poles (available to rent)
  • Tips


Introductory to Moderate

Customise your program

We can fully customise a School Travel Program to suit your students' learning objectives and budget. Whether you require a Service Learning program, physical challenge, cultural immersion or certain curriculum targets - talk to one of our educational travel experts about the elements you need in your itinerary. We pride ourselves on developing unique itineraries to meet the learning requirements for schools.

World Expeditions Schools is a division of one of the world's leading adventure travel companies, World Expeditions. We can develop itineraries in any destination that is offered by World Expeditions, which is to every continent on earth.

Use our simple Expedition Design Form to contact us with your requirements and an educational travel expert will be in touch to assist.

Why travel with us

Why travel with us

Assisted over
14,000 Students Worldwide

Since the 1980's, we have helped students from around the globe to experience the world's most exciting destinations, allowing them to travel, give, grow.

400+ Service Learning

Together with students, we have completed over 400 Service Learning programs in developing countries. We will always continue to support causes including social justice, animal welfare, the environment and more.

Fully Customised
School Travel Programs

Want to include service learning, your school curriculum and a physical challenge, or any of the above? Contact us and we can design a program fully catered for your students and budget.

Safety and
Support - Our #1 Priority

Every school receives a detailed risk management plan that is guided by government advisories and the local partners we work with. We never compromise on the safety of your students to reduce the price of the program.


Want to find out more?

Our educational travel experts are ready to help you tailor an itinerary or service learning project to suit your school’s needs and budget. Contact us today to receive a free consultation.

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