Campsite Rating System

IMG_1194There are nearly 100 backcountry campsites in the Smokies.  Many are idyllic and have become destinations in themselves.  Others are little more than a wide place in the trail.  The NPS website for the Smokies has information about the sites in the Backcountry Permit webpage but it is barley more than a means to make a reservation.

As a way to help hikers make better decisions about where to camp, this rating system has been developed.  It is a 1 – 10 scale with a point given for each of the following criteria:

  • Ready access to water
  • Bear cables – generally a given but some site may not have them
  • Low Impact – little evidence of overuse such as sparse vegetation and general appearance
  • Leave No Trace – includes general layout and spacing of sites relative to the trail
  • Privy
  • Shelter
  • Dry or properly draining tent sites
  • Level tent sites
  • Inspirational location – such as an overlook or river
  • X-Factor – that certain je ne sais quoi

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