GetOut! Our Friday Nudge include 5 of our favorite N.C. Campgrounds

In Wednesday’s post, we noted that the Texas Medical Association, among others, has deemed camping one of the lowest-risk things you can do in these coronavirusly challenging times. Only opening your mail offers a lower risk.

Wednesday, we explained why camping is low risk and that even if you think you don’t have any camping gear, you probably have most of what you need. Today, we promised to share five of our favorite campgrounds in the state, with a quick description of why.

Please note that reservations are highly recommended for all. Especially with a lot of campgrounds closed, demand for good sites is greater than ever. Click the attached link for each to check availability and to make a reservation.

Be advised, too, that bears like campgrounds. To dissuade bear activity, always lock your food up at night: some sites have storage bins, otherwise, put your food in your trunk. Don’t even think about sleeping with that middle-of-the-night Snickers.

Now, on  to our five faves.

Davidson River Campground


Elevation 2,150 feet

Cost per night : $24-$48

No. of sites: 144

Our favorite, and a lot of people’s favorite. Used to be if you showed up and camped out at the gate in the morning you might be able to score a walk-up site. No more. It’s popularity will be evident as soon as you drive in, with several loops of campsites well-spaced beneath a mature canopy of Southern Appalachian hardwoods. The Davidson River runs through the campground, offering good fly fishing, wading and tubing; US 276 takes you up to the Blue Ridge Parkway in about 20 minutes to some great high-elevation hiking; if you don’t want to get in the car, the 31-mile Art Loeb Trail starts at the east end of the campground. 

For more info go here

North Mills River Campground

Mills River, N.C. (roughly between Asheville and Brevard)

Elevation 2,200 feet

Cost per night: $24-$40

No. of sites: 24

North Mills River bailed us out on numerous occasions back in the 1990s when we were shut out at the aforementioned Davidson River Campground just down the road. That’s one reason we like it: it’s not nearly as well known. It’s also more intimate and more rustic, but with many of the same recreational opportunities as Davidson River: Mills River is a slightly smaller but equally as perky version of Davidson River, and a trail headed north out of camp quickly gives you multiple options for climbing the Blue Ridge Escarpment, including our favorite, the 8.3-mile Coffee Pot Mountain Loop Trail. A great base camp if you’re looking to get in some miles.

For more info go here.

Black Mountain Campground

Burnesville (at the base of Mount Mitchell’s eastern flank)

Elevation: 3,040 feet

Cost per night: $22-$44

No of sites: 37

From your front door, you can fish the South Toe River (or simply loll about in its chill waters), or you can scale the highest peak east of South Dakota’s Black Hills. The 5.7-mile Mount Mitchell Trail climbs about 3,700 vertical feet on it’s way to 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell and the top of the East Coast in a very cool boreal forest. Or, you can drive about 45 minutes and reach the top, in Mount Mitchell State Park. Do the later and you can spend time scrambling over a series of 6,000-foot peaks — Mount Craig, Big Tom, Balsam Cone, Cattail Peak and Potato Hill — on the rugged (and sometimes closed, so check ahead) Black Mountain Crest Trail. If you’ve been eager to wear your fleece of late, this is the place.

For more info go here

Curtis Creek Campground

Old Fort

Elevation: 1,800 feet


No. of sites: 25

This one’s a sleeper: tucked up a canyon outside Old Fort, Curtis Creek is a gem-of-a-basecamp for this looking to explore some of the oldest forest in the National Forest Service system, dating back more than a century. There’s bonafide old growth forest in the steep canyons rising from Curtis Creek, including one accessible from the campground that head’s up Hickory Branch. Some great mountain biking as well (the campground is located on the route of the Off-Road Assault on Mount Mitchell); Curtis Creek is small but offers cool relief from the heat of summer.

For more info go here

Standing Indian Campground


Elevation: 3,450 feet

Cost per night: $20 – $75

No. of sites:  81

This campground was renovated a few years back, with the emphasis on letting campers get spread out from one another. A great family campground with lazy paved roads perfect for kids on bikes. There’s a camp store, and access to Kimsey Creek. But the big plus here is the hiking, especially the access to the Appalachian Trail, which is fed by at least seven trails that come up from in or near the campground. Some good waterfall exploring, too, along FR 67. The higher elevation means that when the sun drops below the ridge it won’t be long before you’ll be slipping into a light fleece. 

For more info go here

Today’s video

Today’s video was from Wednesday’s GetHiking! Triad hike at the new Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area in Alamance County. The new preserve, with about three miles of trail, is open by reservation only. It’s free, they’re just trying to keep a lid on the number of hikers there at any one time. You can learn more about the area at the Alamance Parks website. You can also check out our new GetHiking! Guide to the Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area in our bookstore. Enter code BD46SC84 and the guide is free through the weekend.

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