Category Archives: Campsites

Campsite #1 – Cooper Road

Campsite #1 - Cooper Road

Campsite #1 – Cooper Road

Campsite #1 – Cooper Road

Cooper Road Trail – 0.9 miles from trailhead at Abrams Creek Campground at intersection with Little Bottoms Trail.

Capacity: 12

Rating: 5

Water: Available from creek nearby.

Campsite #1 is a nice flat space that is surprisingly low impact given it is only a mile from the trail head.  There is plenty of ground cover and there are two fire rings and two sets of bear cables.  The site is off the trail but highly visible.  There are plenty of small trees for hammocks and little evidence of potential blow downs and widow makers.

Rating Review

  • 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
  • Dry or properly draining tent sites
  • Level tent sites

HikerHead 2  Shalom.  Strider out…

Campsite 5 – Rich Mountain

Campsite 5

Campsite 5

Campsite #5 – Rich Mountain

Rich Mountain Trail – 100 yards from intersection with Indian Grave Gap Trail

Capacity: 4

Rating: 5

Water: Available from a small spring down the narrow valley from the site, or from Hesse Creek a few hundred yd. down Rich Mountain Trail.

 

CS 5 is the former site for the Rich Mountain Shelter, the foundation of which is still there.  The site is a small one with nice ground cover and space for a couple tents.  There is little impact and although the site is within clear view of the trail, it is sufficiently off to the side.  There is a large fallen tree to provide wind break for tarps.

Rating Summary:

  • Ample Water
  • Bear Cables
  • Low Impact
  • Dry and Level Tent Sites

Campsite 6 – Turkeypen Ridge

Campsite 6

Campsite 6

Campsite #6

Scott Mountain Trail – 200 yards from intersection with Indian Grave Gap Trail

Capacity: 8

Rating: 6

Water: A spring is located on the back side of the ridge from the campsite.

 

 

CS 6 is a welcoming site located on a small ridge off Scot Mountain Trail.  There are two grassy sections with a few nice spots for tents.  There is only one fire ring and bear cables are close.  The site is well used but impact is pretty minimal.  There are no signs of privy use in the area.  Water is located at a nice spring on the back side of the ridge from the campsite.  There is not an established trail to the spring and the bank is rather steep.

Rating Summary:

  • Ample Water
  • Bear Cables
  • Low Impact
  • Dry and Level Tent Sites
  • X Factor

Campsite 12 – Forge Creek

Campsite 12

Campsite 12

Campsite #12 – Forge Creek

Gregory Ridge Trail – 2 miles from trailhead

Capacity: 12

Rating: 2

Water: Forge Creek 100 yds.

 

 

 

CS 12 is barely more than a wide place in the trail.  The fire ring is about 15 feet off the trail.  The site is highly visible.  The impact is moderate to high.  There are two main camping areas with fire rings.  The upper area is a little less impacted and more conducive to tarps with better draining tent sites.  There is no evidence of privy activity nearby.  Water is in ample supply nearby from Forge Creek.

Rating Summary:

  • Ample Water
  • Bear Cables

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

Campsite #29 – Otter Creek

Campsite #29 - Otter Creek

Campsite #29 – Otter Creek

Campsite #29 – Otter Creek

Madison Bald Trail – 5.7 miles from the trailhead and 1.6 miles form the  intersection with Snake Den Ridge Trail

Capacity: 10

Rating: 5

Water: Available from Otter Creek adjacent to the campsite.

As the name implies, Campsite #29 is near Otter Creek on the Maddron Bald Trail.  AT the time of the hike on February 29, 2016, there was over 6 inches of snow on the ground so the rating of the site is impacted somewhat by that fact. There are two fire rings with ample space for a few tents although the bear cables are very close to the lower section of the site.  The site is sufficiently off the trail but not by far.

Rating Summary:

  • Ample water
  • Level tent sites
  • Bear Cables
  • Low impact