Tremont Institute has been strategizing ways to conduct educational programs safely this fall amidst the ongoing crisis caused by the coronavirus. Despite canceling many spring and summer programs, the institute is moving forward with cautious optimism and with new precautions and procedures in place.

Some of Tremont’s programs make a natural fit in their original form in the new climate of “social-distancing.” A backpacking program specifically designed for women is one such example.

From start to finish, the three-day backpacking adventure in Great Smoky Mountains National Park takes place outdoors. Chances of contracting the virus are greatly reduced when outdoors, according to many health experts, and the program’s smaller number of participants similarly lowers the chances of spreading the virus. One-person tents spaced out in large backcountry campsites will ensure separation, as will the way meals are served.

The Tremont Difference

What sets Tremont programs apart from other backpack trips offered in the region, according to Tremont naturalist Elizabeth Davis, is that every facet is educational. From acquiring skills in the most comfortable way to pack one’s backpack to soaking up the natural and cultural history of the Smokies, to learning about camping technologies such as stoves and water filters, it all takes place under the tutelage of experts like Davis who will co-lead the trip.

Bonding as a group also plays an important role. “Forming community among strangers is important to us at Tremont. It’s something we do really well, and people need it now more than ever,” says Davis.

“It’s amazing how you can get together with complete strangers and experience laughter, support, collaboration, and encouragement,” wrote a previous women’s backpack participant following her trip.

Women’s Fall Backpack takes place October 8-11. This fall Tremont will also be conducting a photography workshop, hiking programs, and numerous courses through their Southern Appalachian Naturalist Certification Program.

To register for fall programs, visit While Tremont plans to move forward with these programs at this time, developments in the coronavirus outbreak may require schedule changes.