Great Smoky Mountains National Park Backpacking (TN/NC) – June 2017

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Backpacking (TN/NC) – June 2017

With three hikes in as many months, making for a great start to the 2017 backpacking season, I once again met up with Travis in late June 2017 to do a 3-day, 30-mile hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Because of a lengthy closure of the Mt. Le Conte shelter due to bear activity we had altered our original plan to instead do the Big Creek Loop in the northeast section of the park. But just two days before our departure Travis was able to reserve a cabin at the Mt. Le Conte Lodge, fortuitously made available through a last minute cancellation. Travis also worked with the Park Rangers to modify the remainder of our permit, putting us back on our original plan – Alum Cave Trailhead, over Mt. Le Conte, a short section of the Appalachian Trail, then down to Smokemont Campground via the Sweat Heifer Trail with an overnight stay at the Kephart Shelter.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a truly amazing place when you make the effort to get a few miles into the backcountry, away from the throngs of visitors that rarely leave the main roads. Jurassic Park-like vegetation, enormous first growth-size trees, countless streams and waterfalls, and beautiful vistas overwhelm all your senses. When you add the bucket list-worthy Mt. Le Conte Lodge experience and a wonderful night with some great new friends at the Kephart Shelter, this trip turned out to be a very memorable adventure.

Similar to my other recent backpacking videos, this one has about 45 minutes of video followed by a 10+ minute still picture slide show with music at the end. It is meant to be an ‘immersive’ experience that allows you to come along with Travis and I on the trip. If you aren’t interested in ‘riding along on my shoulder’ for an hour long video, just skip to the last 10 minutes of still pictures and you’ll get a good overview of our trip.

Still Camera: Nikon D810 with Nikkor 20mm f1.8 lens
Video Camera: Canon Vixia G40 with Rode Stereo Videomic Pro
Video Editing Software: Sony Vegas Pro 13

“Once Tomorrow”, “A Song”, and “Adventures of the Deaf Dreamer” by Josh Woodward. Free download:


  1. Mark Reaves on May 1, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    To me, that is perfect weather for a hike.

  2. Shikhanshu Agarwal on May 1, 2020 at 3:15 pm

    i did the alum cave trail to lodge and back in a day trip and it was a mesmerizing experience

  3. Morbid Insomniac on May 1, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    This definitely isn’t a good trail for teens. I wish it was. I’d like to take my kids somewhere.

  4. Craig G on May 1, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    You’ve been pretty quiet. I hope everything is ok

  5. Robert Bonner on May 1, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Great video David, as always! When you are planning your trips, do you reserve your campsites after you’ve established your miles and route for each day? Or can you make that decision the day of?

  6. James Riddling on May 1, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    I’m actually about to do the same hike I’m starting at smokemont campground headed up to ice water springs shelter then to my Leconte and back down again

  7. Connie Johnson on May 1, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    Absolutely love your videos. Have been watching them all evening (while walking on the treadmill 😅). Wish I wouldn’t have found them. Jk. I’m addicted. Love all the pictures at the end of them as well. Spectacular.

  8. Air Conditioning on May 1, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    Thank you!

  9. Kimberly Cockram on May 1, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    would love to see a tutorial on how you plan your trips. (for example, what apps or websites do you use to find topography and campsites)

  10. Fettuccini Alfredo on May 1, 2020 at 3:28 pm

    Hey guys….great documentary-video….I really enjoyed it…thanks to you I tried the hike this past weekend end of August 2019…took a trip to Gatlinburg Tn….it was absolutely amazing..and keep up the good wotk

  11. a w on May 1, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Your such a sweet man I really love your adventures and your personable personality I also just want to say I officially have a crush on you now your just so adorable to me and I always feel like I am actually right there with you by your side on your hikes thanks for that for makeing me smile and i get to watch you fulfill your passions one step at a time sweet man

  12. Kevin Severson on May 1, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    We had missed this one, since you were in the smokies twice. Its like finding $20 in your jacket! 👍🏻

  13. gilmcosta on May 1, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    muito bom, passeio muito legal . Beautful place.

  14. susanna cantarero on May 1, 2020 at 3:39 pm

    Thank you so very much for sharing your hike. It is so beautiful and reminds me of my son and me on our hikes in Ohio. If you haven’t gone to Hocking Hills State Park in Logan, Ohio you , have got to go. It’s great!

  15. Blooming Fields on May 1, 2020 at 3:39 pm

    I’m going this summer in June, staying in a cabin

  16. James Smith, The Quiet Hiker on May 1, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    I have tried for many, many years to get a reservation at LeConte Lodge. I have never had any luck. None.

  17. Burleism on May 1, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    just returned from Gburg yesterday, stayed in same microtel up from the space needle……. Update for next trip: Visit Gatlinburg Brewing just opened not too long ago, Steve makes really really good beer and the best brick-oven pizza around. Locally owned (unlike Smoky Mt. Brewery) down on the corner of 321 at light #3

  18. ElizabethColorsArt on May 1, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    Great video ! 🙂 Danger from bears sound so scary.

  19. jerry s on May 1, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    David, when I want to train for this type on hike I just go and run the stairs where ever I find them.

  20. Leo Proctor on May 1, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    I love how yankees say Appa-lay-chian instead of Appa-la-chian with a short- "a" vowel. Lol…….. (from Tennessee.)
    Great video though.

  21. JoAnn Wormbrand on May 1, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    Loved it!!!

  22. disco 07 on May 1, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    That was a fine video. Most enjoyable. Electro glide in mellow. Thanks!

  23. Philip Ward on May 1, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    I have stayed in Kephart shelter, and made the trek UP Sweat Heifer trail. It certainly lived up to its name.

  24. Nick W. on May 1, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    25:31 you said it… I’ve hiked that trail several times, but every time it feels like it never ends

  25. Suzie on May 1, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    Chicken of the woods mushrooms

  26. Tim Grogan on May 1, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    Not the story I heard about the rock pile . The story I heard that they were trying to make Leconte the highest peak.

  27. MrCliffda3rd on May 1, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    I did half of the Alum Bluff trail in Oct. 2017 (Cave and back). The fall colors are startin to show and it was wonderful.

  28. Entropian2012 on May 1, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    How much do they charge a night there?

  29. StraitClownin909 on May 1, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    Hows that redline doin?!

  30. Chicken Scratch Travels on May 1, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    I think it be raining.

  31. Dooger T on May 1, 2020 at 3:55 pm

    I’m impressed you just went. I would have said, oh darn, rain. I’m out. Did you have rain pants or just get soaked?

  32. susan brown on May 1, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    You had fun that’s all that counts .

  33. Kose Avase on May 1, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Great Smoking mountain is really great!!!!

  34. Bill Seay on May 1, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    Hey Thanks Dave great video and views

  35. Douglas21450 on May 1, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    Great video!!!!!!!!! Thank you.

  36. AmericanFreightTrain Rider on May 1, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    Thinking about taking this trip early to mid March

  37. Roger Mueller on May 1, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    where are you?

  38. Joe Hardwick on May 1, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    I really enjoy your videos. Absolutely one my favorite YouTube channels. I hope we see more

  39. Bentley Boatright on May 1, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    Kinda late to the YouTube addiction trend, but one of the first videos I watched in preparing for Glacier was by David. The enthusiasm and the chuckles remind me of my dad whom I wish was still around to take on an adventure with me. My first real backpacking experience started in Smokemont About 8 years ago and I love this area.

    You guys sure can EAT!! I said it, haha.. keep it up, hopefully we will run into each other some day!

  40. Stevenbp101 on May 1, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    Watching your videos has inspired me to do some hiking. Thanks for taking the time to post such entertaining videos. (Old guy from Arkansas)🇺🇸

  41. summer funrides on May 1, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    Awesome video of our beautiful mountains!

  42. Michael Prince on May 1, 2020 at 4:09 pm

    I think this was one of my favorites so far David. I would encourage you to check out some great backpacking in Northern Michigan. I think you would like Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Isle Royals National Park in Lake Superior. Keep up the great work. I really enjoy the videos.

  43. Pam Ulmer on May 1, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    Hi David. My husband would like to know your age. Tried Googling it but couldn’t find an answer.

  44. Lead Me Outdoors on May 1, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    Loved this video, David. What trial head sis you start and where did you end?. I am interested in doing this

  45. Edgekin on May 1, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    The best thing I like about backpacking is that you don’t have to be overly dependent on any electronical devices at all times. Instead of lying in your house without your phone or tablet leaving your side for more than 10 minutes, you can just be out there, in the wilderness, and do some real socializing with people, actual people, and not someone who is hiding behind a virtual front.

  46. carlos mijares on May 1, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    Going next year on a road trip from Austin Tx. Great video

  47. susan brown on May 1, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    One of the best David ,..really enjoyed watching that Thankyou.

  48. filip malinowski on May 1, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    great video absolutely love it Subscribed..:) pleas also Subscribe my to Thanks:)

  49. Rick Davis on May 1, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    Dave… I’m just curious if you’ve always been a Nikon guy. I shot it back in the film days with an N60 and F100 but switched to Canon when the first DSLR came out. I’m looking for a mirrorless DSLR and the Canon R, the Nikon Z6 and the Sony A7iii are in the race.

    On a side note, I used to shoot for the Kansas City Chiefs and all but two cameras on the sidelines were Canon. My buddy shot Nikon and he caught a lot flack over it. It was all good though.

  50. mike franks on May 1, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    Do you put an arc in your pack when hiking? Doesnt look like an arc in the pack at all..Maybe its the camera angle….

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