Switchback Expeditions: The Best of the Appalachian Trail Part 1

Welcome to the Roan Highlands

Roan Highlands

Quick Facts: 30 miles, 5 days (Oct 17 - October 21), $450, Ages 18+

Register to Attend

This is the first guided backpacking adventure hosted by Switchback Gear Exchange. The trip will begin near Elk Park,North Carolina where we will stay in a hiker hostel. After a filling breakfast, we will shuttle to a trail head on the Appalachian Trail for three days of hiking, covering approximately 30 miles of trail. Hikers will experience a night in the highest shelter on the entire Appalachian Trail, summit several mountain tops, and learn about backpacking from a former thru hiker; all along with the challenges, camaraderie, great food, and unforgettable scenery you can expect from the country’s oldest long distance footpath. Temperatures are expected to be in the 70’s during the day and down to the 40’s at night. All gear, transportation, food, and lodging, will be provided along with the expertise of two trained backpacking guides.


(Some small changes may occur depending on weather and trail conditions)

Pre Trip Meeting: October 1st, 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM @ Creston Brewery

This is an optional pre-trip informational meeting and social setting to meet people and have your questions answered.

Pre Trip Meeting: October 9th, 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM @ Switchback Gear Exchange, Grand Rapids, MI

This meeting is important to check packing lists, ask questions, and get familiarized with the team and the trip.

Day 1- Wednesday, 10/17

  1. Leave Grand rapids at 7 am
  2. Several stops throughout the day.
  3. Arrive at the hostel in Elk Park, TN by 7pm. Eat dinner in town or at the hostel.

Day 2- Thursday, 10/18- 11 Miles

Hikers will experience a challenging climb, but be rewarded with multiple summits with 360 degree views. Midway through the day we will pass by the Clyde Smith Shelter and Little Rock Knob.

  1. Shuttle to the trailhead at Greasy Creek Gap.
  2. Hike North to the Roan High Knob Shelter.
  3. Tenting and dinner at the shelter.

Day 3- Friday, 10/19 - 10 Miles

In the first part of the day Hikers will get to see Overmountain shelter, a large red barn converted into a sleeping area. Nearby there is a side trail to a historic site and viewpoint. After the break, the crew will have another challenging climb up to Little Hump Mountain where there are interesting rock features, and views of the mountains that have already been hiked. By evening, the group will arrive Bradley Gap for a nice campsite and water source.

  1. Breakfast at camp.
  2. Hike to Bradley Gap.
  3. Dinner and night in tents.
  4. Sunrise and Sunset viewing.

Day 4- Saturday, 10/20 - 7 miles

On the Third day of the hike, the crew will have a somewhat later morning in camp if desired before descending to a lower elevation and our exit point at 19E. This descent is a gorgeous section made up of pine tree’s and stark rock features. The hike will end at the hostel, without any shuttling needed. 

  1. Leave the shelter by mid morning. 
  2. Hike to 19E
  3. Hikers will have a chance to nap, shower, explore the town, ect.. Before we have a celebration dinner at the hostel around 7pm.

Day 5- Sunday 10/21

On the final day, everyone will have a chance to travel on their own, or with the group.

  1. Load up and leave early morning
  2. Arrive in GR in the evening

Scholarships and sponsorships may be available to adventures with financial need. If you feel you may be a candidate for a scholarship, please contact Mike Posthumus.