We take a lot of groups on weekend hiking trips to the mountains. As a result, we stay in a lot of group campgrounds. When we book a group campground, we look at a number of factors, including:
- Proximity to good hiking. Ideally, we look for a campground with immediate access to trails — and not just any old trails, but trails that will yield a full day of memorable hiking. If we can treat people to an entire day of using just their own feet to get around, we we find they enjoy the day that much more..
- Shaded camping. We hike mostly in summer, so we need to pitch tents where they won’t broil during the day.
- A commons area. A big fire pit, a picnic table or two, rocks or logs to sit on — we don’t ask much, but these are biggies.
- Basic amenities. We need water at the campsite, we’d like a privy not too far away. A bathhouse, of course, is nice. And if we can park a reasonable distance away — within 50 yards of the campsite, say — all the better.
- Privacy. From others in the group, to some degree (hey, we all need a little me time), but mostly from neighboring campers. We escape to the wild for various reasons; it’s those who escape to the wild to be wild that we prefer to avoid.
- Good vibe. Most importantly, the site must have a good vibe. It needn’t be immaculately groomed; rather, we like a spot that fits in with the natural surroundings. Sometimes you know the second you drive up, sometimes it takes a night or two of camaraderie to summons the vibe.
There are other factors, but these are the basics. Based on these basics, here are our our five favorite group campgrounds in North Carolina.