The following is a guest blog by e-outdoor:
A late summer or fall trip to Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a great way to end your summer or ease into fall at a less hectic pace. Soon enough the cold temperatures will have everyone spending more time inside than out, and the winter holidays will have you running in all directions and busy with family. Taking a few days for some quiet time to enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer is a great way to charge the internal batteries before it's too late in the year.
Late summer and fall brings cooler temperatures to the mountains, and the night and early morning air can have a little bite to it as autumn comes in, especially at the higher elevations. To stay comfortable and safe a look at the packing list is in order to make sure your gear has adapted to the changing season.
Packing for the Smoky Mountains is less about fashion and more about function. If you were not wise enough to trade in the sneakers for actual hiking boots earlier in the year, it's certainly time to do so now. In hiking boots the keys are support, weight, waterproof (in this season), and breathability. A boot that offers good arch and ankle support will be a blessing and a few less ounces in weight make a big difference at the end of the day. If you have a pair of favorite boots already some leather dressing or mink oil will help restore the water repellant properties. If you don't have the synthetic breathable fiber boots a pair of Gore-Tex socks or foot liners will help prevent your feet from getting wet from perspiration.
Cotton clothing is comfortable in the summer seasons but as fall approaches a wool or wool blend will be more suitable. Wool retains its heat insulating properties - even when wet, and since an afternoon shower is more apt to turn into a cold evening or night, the extra warmth is a good idea. Vests for the early fall and well lined waterproof coats for anything after the start of October make sense. If you have a wool or wool blend outerwear, buying new will not make you any warmer - there is not much need for high fashion in the GSMNP. If you need to get more suitable outerwear a place like e-outdoor is a good place for ideas of what might be available.
As it turns into full fall a hat and gloves will help keep you more comfortable, and as hunting season begins adding a hunter safety vest is always a good idea when plying through the wilderness outside of the park.
Hiking in the Smokies