Interested to know what everyone's favorite (and least favorite) campsites are in the GSMNP.  If we're going to have to pay for them, might as well pay for a good one! 

My experience is mostly on the NC side of the park.  So here goes mine:


47 Enloe Creek - not the best tent sites as they sit right on the trail (but it's a mostly unused trail I think).  But the setting on Roaring Fork is fantastic.  Literally roaring loud water and 2 great swimming holes just a few feet from the site.  Cool summertime temps with its 3600' elevation, too.  Not much tree cover which makes for great star viewing at night.  Small site but not much traffic around there so you'd likely have all to yourself.  Hikers only.

49 Cabin Flats - somewhat remote site on the Bradley Fork.  several nice private campsites sitting right on the Fork.  Bradley Fork is wide, but shallow (at least in summer).  Perfect for walking up the creek to explore a remote area of the park.  I have heard that this site is popular with horse campers but I haven't seen them in my 2 trips there.

60 Baumgardner Branch - nice scenic site right alongside Deep Creek.  Only a few miles from the DC entrance (tubers everywhere) so it could get crowded I guess.  59 and 58 (hikers only) a little further up the creek are likely just as nice and farther from the parking lot. 

37 Lower Walnut - large site along Big Creek that can get crowded I've heard.  I have seen several groups there before but it's so big I haven't really noticed them.

17 Little Bottoms - camped there for the first time 2 weeks ago.  Near Abram's Creek.  Seems it would make a great base camp.  Lots of other trails very close by, including some with loop possibilities.

Not my favorites:

46 Estes Branch - the whole site sits on a slope.  Only flat places are where people have carved the dirt from the slope to make a flat tent site.  Also chain saws went wild there.  Dozens of large logs of varying length are strewn all over the place.  Felt like I was camping at a lumber yard. 

39 Pretty Hollow - Also on a slope.  I think this site gets a lot of use due to close proximity to the Cataloochee parking area.  Always a lot of people and a lot of trash when I've been there.  Same story for 40.  Almost car camping, I've seen people rolling coolers in flip flops down Rough Fork trail to camp there.

On the to-do list:

44 McGee Springs - high elevation (+5000') site in a very quiet area of the park.  I've heard it's a very nice site.  I want to use it as a base camp to explore the Three Forks area down below. 

29 Otter Creek - have never been on the trails in this vicinity but am anxious to do so.  Looks like a nice 2 night loop coupled with 34.

With all the backcountry experience on this site, I'd like to know what other good sites are out there.

Views: 2685


You need to be a member of GotSmokies to add comments!

Join GotSmokies

Comment by Joey Bridges on April 9, 2013 at 7:34pm

dang, forgot about cs#26 on miry.
that's another great one.
cs#14 is perfectly placed for a stop over on an x-c hike.
only stayed there once and it was pouring down rain.

Comment by John Quillen on April 9, 2013 at 5:54pm

Ditto all the below, especially what Adam suggested.  I love the spot of Raven Fork but that is the smallest campsite imaginable.  I am growing more partial to lower Jakes Creek because it is so expansive and rarely used given proximity to elkmont.  Least favorite of all are Lynn Camp (horse trampled) and the ugliest most horse abused in the park is 65 Bear Pen Branch on Lower Noland.  That place should be condemned and permanently closed to equestrian usage.  I like 14, Hannah mtn, though.  It is a small campsite but the confluence of Flint Gap and the remoteness of the place give it a wonderful charm and nice feel.

Comment by Adam Beal on April 9, 2013 at 12:21pm

Mainly for fishing reasons I like 23 Goshen Prong and also cs 30 or 24. 41 up Caldwell Fork is another good one. 

Comment by Joey Bridges on April 8, 2013 at 9:37pm

two favorites.
cs#68 and the good time we had reopening it.
the other isn't on any map, and ceased to exist after she and i left that morning.

least favorite.
anyone who pays to stay there, needs triple their money back.
what a rat hole.
cs#14 on hannah isn't much better.

Comment by John Quillen on April 8, 2013 at 3:00pm

McGhee Springs is one of my favorites of all time.  Next would be Miry Ridge.  That has to be my #1.  You've got it right about the others.  I also love #15 Rabbit Creek and any place that horses are forbidden. Crooked Arm #6 on Scott mtn is also great.

Comment by Gregg Bostick on April 8, 2013 at 2:46pm

DO NOT go to CS 16 on Rabbit Creek.  Questionable water source and not much to look at.

I agree with you on 47 and 17, although 47 is not for those who have trouble with running water and sleep...CS 2 on Cane Creek is an easy in...61 on Noland Creek isn't bad  either...Jakes Creek CS 27 has sentimental value to me going back to college days. 

© 2022   Created by John Quillen.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service