1. Sturdy Hiking Boots to Help You Really Experience the Smoky Mountains

A good pair of hiking boots is a must. To make the most out of your trip, pack a pair of supportive, waterproof and breathable hiking boots. These will allow you to navigate both wet trails beside waterfalls and dry trails up mountainsides with ease and enable you to explore farther than you maybe would have.

To get you started on your research, one of our staff members raves about his Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX. Our friends at Backpacker magazine really liked the Vasque Skywalks GTS.

If you’re not going more than a couple of miles down the trail, you can pack light with a hiking shoe that can go from the trail to the restaurant. We love the Lowa Locarno Low hiking shoes. www.rei.com.

2. A Rain Jacket For a Wet Place

The lowlands of Great Smoky get an average of 55 inches of rain per year, but that number rises to 85 inches per year at Clingmans Dome. Bring your rain jacket to avoid getting caught in the rain. Temperatures, especially if you are higher up in the park, can drop dramatically when it rains, turning a warm day into one that feels freezing. When it rains and temperatures plummet, you want a jacket that can keep you warm and dry. Be sure to take cover from thunderstorms and lightening.

Tip: Pick a jacket that claims to be waterproof or watertight, not water resistant. Check out the many brands of rain jackets at www.rei.com.