Asheville, NC area basecamping w/ options

6:09 p.m. on June 14, 2014 (EDT)
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I am seeking advice for a good basecamping/carcamping spot or area around Asheville. My daughter and I plan on about 7-10 days and would like a spot that is primitive and secluded (read no KOAs, RVs or crowds.) We prefer only tents and would appreciate "dispersed" areas, or at least campgrounds that don't cram sites elbow to elbow. We don't mind hiking in/out but would prefer an area w/ trails to overnights. We have camped several times in this general area but, coming from Colorado, have also developed a taste for views/vistas and always seem to end up in the middle of the dense forest and as a bonus would love to find somewhere w/ views other than the trees around us. Any, and all, help is really appreciated. Thank you and PS trip is planned for mid-July. Rob.

8:28 p.m. on June 16, 2014 (EDT)
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Hey Rob,

Are you looking for multiple campsites or to stay in the same area the whole time? Also, how far outside of Asheville do you plan to stay? I know of all kinds of places about 45 mins - an hour outside of Asheville. I can also tell you plenty of places to eat in Asheville.

-Ashleigh

8:09 p.m. on June 17, 2014 (EDT)
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Hey Ashleigh,

Thank you for your response.Those are good questions, we haven't decided exactly yet, but what I THINK we would like would would be a single basecamp w/ access to 1-2-3 overnights. Its hard to say, for recreation we would like to do day hikes and possibly (probably) some rafting and fishing, maybe overnighting on those but I don't know if we have the experience to handle rough water if that may be part of it. We are experienced campers and intermediate backpackers. The exact area depends on the proximity to what we want to do...we're flexible so 45-60 out is no problem, esp. if that would be south as we will be driving north from Florida. Thanks for your help, Rob.  

8:20 p.m. on June 17, 2014 (EDT)
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And...maybe a good NC BBQ joint?

4:15 p.m. on June 18, 2014 (EDT)
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Hey Rob,

The best two BBQ places that I know of in Asheville are 12 Bones and Luella's. There is also one in Brevard, right in front of the Pisgah National Forest entrance, called Hawg Wild that is pretty decent. If you are actually in Asheville, there is an amazing brunch joint, called Biscuit Head, which is in West Asheville. Other awesome Asheville restaurants are White Duck Taco (cheap, delicious tacos), and Tupelo Honey Cafe. I could go on and on, but I'll refrain unless you would like more suggestions.

Since you aren't sure of your exact plan yet, here are some suggestions that I have:

The Linville Gorge (about an hour from Asheville) sounds like your best option. It has fabulous vistas. If you look at my Sierra Designs Mobile Mummy review or my Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 review, you can see a few vistas from the gorge. You could park at the Shortoff Mountain trail head and walk to Table Rock and back. There are several other hikes within the gorge, There are also some other awesome attractions there worth seeing, such as Linville Falls, Linville Caverns, and Grandfather Mountain.

Another suggestion that I have is Pisgah National Forest in Brevard. There are tons of hikes to beautiful vistas there. You could camp at the Davidson River campground and fish there and drive to trailheads on the Blue Ridge Parkway, or you could camp along the Art Loeb Trail (off of the Parkway). My favorite hikes in that area are Black Balsam-Shining Rock, Graveyard Fields, and Sam Knob. Here are links to some trips that I have done in that area:

https://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-reports/topics/151302.html

https://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-reports/topics/134709.html

There are also a few other great day hikes within an hour of Asheville:

http://www.romanticasheville.com/mountain_views.htm

http://www.romanticasheville.com/blue_ridge_parkway_favorites.htm

If you have any other questions, I'll be glad to help.

 

-Ashleigh

 

11:17 a.m. on June 22, 2014 (EDT)
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Hi Ashleigh- WOW great tips! There is so much there the problem becomes one of priorities. As I understand it for the PNF we can camp pretty much anywhere as long as we are >1000' off roads, is that correct? We really like your Linville Gorge suggestion, the views are amazing and proximity to hikes and other things to do look perfect. I read permits are required to camp on weekends and will contact the Ranger District, but I was wondering in terms of camping would this be an area to basecamp or more like straight backpacking, what do you think? And  especially if the former would you have any suggestions as to more specific areas, such as where to park etc. I really appreciate all your help on this and we can't wait to get up there. Thanks, Rob PS- great reviews by the way. Loved the views, too. Now where were you when you took those pics, was that the Linville Gorge? Also could you recommend a good place for some rafting in that area?

3:38 p.m. on June 25, 2014 (EDT)
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Rob,

I don't know for sure, because I've never tried camping near the road in PNF. There is definitely an area that you can basecamp in at the Table Rock picnic area and I am all but sure you wouldn't need a permit to camp there, but you might want to check with the rangers. If you want to tote your backpacking gear about 1/4 -1/2 mile, you can camp on the Chimneys if you have a free standing tent. From the Table Rock parking area, if you follow the MTS trail in the back right of the parking area, it is a super short walk.  The suggestion from Shortoff to Table Rock (or vice versa) would be backpacking. The only two places that I know of to park are at the Shortoff trailhead and the Table Rock trailhead.

I was at the Chimneys when I took those pictures in the reviews. Thanks for the compliments! :)

As far as rafting goes, I've never been rafting in that direction, but from what I see, Loafers Glory Rafting & Tubing is your closest one. There are also a couple in Banner Elk and Boone that aren't too far. If you Google "rafting near Linville, NC" you will see some other options in Boone and Banner Elk. They aren't exactly close, but they aren't far.

8:37 p.m. on June 25, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks again, Ashleigh- Your advice has really helped us. Will check w/ rangers but a few years ago  in PNF we had set up a base camp @ 500' off lumber road, couldn't be seen except apparently fire at night and actually got rousted by NF police, guy was really rude, posturing "I can throw you out right now," but being a nice guy gave us until AM to move. I understand rules r rules, could have been worse. Will check Table Rock, am I correct that the Chimneys may be a basecamp? ( Yes to the free standing tent, but why, is that area above tree line? It looked super cool in your pics and if so no worries we want it!) Online NFS sites have given East or West maps online, splitting the area, so which should I be looking for? And evidently you guys have been rafting, so if not there, where? Don't know how to make the smiley faces or I would, I'm basically a Ludite but I'm trying...Thanks, Rob- (Wait, I got it:)  !!! Who r u calling old?

10:31 a.m. on June 26, 2014 (EDT)
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You are very welcome, Rob. I hate to hear that about the Rangers, but at least they didn't throw you out that night.

The good thing about the Chimneys is that they are only about 1/4 mile from the Table Rock picnic area (where there are plenty of sites) and your car. I do have to warn you that you have to do a small amount of climbing to get to the top of the Chimneys. The one that we stayed on is about 30 feet up, but it is in the middle of the trail. Once you see the unusual rock formations that are in my pictures, the first Chimney you can camp on is directly across from them and you just climb up the rocks. I wouldn't want to haul a bunch of gear up there, but a backpack will be fine. BTW, I do not think you could get a tent on the other rocks in the picture. They aren't flat enough. You would need a free-standing tent up there because it is all rock up there and there aren't any small rocks to secure a free-standing tent. Either way, since it is such a short walk, I suggest walking over there from your car and checking it out first to get a good look at what I am talking about before hauling gear up there.

I do have one more suggestion, if you do end up going to the gorge: Roan Highlands. Have you heard of it? It is about 25 minutes from Linville and it is incredible. It is one of my favorite places and I go at least twice a year. Here is my Trip Report on Roan. Here are a couple of others done by Gonzan and Patman. If you want to go to Roan, let me know and I will elaborate more.

As far as rafting goes, I've only been in Western NC and East TN (Nantahala, Ocoee, and Pigeon Rivers). I do hear that Hot Springs has some pretty good rafting on the French Broad, but I can't speak from experience there. Hot Springs is about 45 minutes - an hour from Asheville. Sorry to give you MORE options, but it has a Hot Springs resort, where you can rent private hot tubs filled with mineral spring water and it also has an amazing hiking destination, Max Patch Bald (a lot of the pictures where you could see the green bald and blue mountains in my Mobile Mummy 3 Season were taken at Max Patch).

8:49 p.m. on June 30, 2014 (EDT)
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Hello Ashleigh, and thanks for the info. I like the idea of the Chimneys and the fact that they are so proximal, it sounds like fun just to check them out insofar that just the climb sounds interesting. Roan looks like a blast, too, maybe for dayhiking or possible overnight, what do you think? Remember, we are currently non- acclimated flatlanders, can't really do 10- 12 miles daily, just looking to kind of cruise, you know? We are  looking forward to this trip and thanks to all your input it looks like we certainly have options. For rafting every time we've been up there it seem like all you really have to do is drive up the road a piece and find interesting water,so maybe that's what we'll end up doing. After all, if everything is predictable and planned its just a vacation, and sometimes the unexpected is what makes it an adventure, right? Again, thanks for all your time, and your help. Rob

9:45 a.m. on July 1, 2014 (EDT)
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Sounds great, Rob. If you want to do a spectacular overnight at Roan, I suggest driving to the Mountain Harbor Inn in the town of Roan Mountain. They will shuttle you (I think total shuttle price is $30) to Carver's Gap and you walk a gorgeous section of the A.T. back to your car. It is 14.5 miles. I suggest stopping at Little Hump Mountain for the night, as it is about 7 miles in. For a simple and really pretty overnight, you can park in Carver's Gap and hike the balds and camp on top of Grassy Ridge Bald for an awesome view. You can easily do all that in a day, but if you wanted to camp up there, too, you can.

5:25 p.m. on July 1, 2014 (EDT)
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i had thought about suggesting little hump.....

 

glad someone did it........

probably one of the best hikes in the southeast going from carvers gap to mountain harbor......

 

11:20 a.m. on July 6, 2014 (EDT)
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Hello again and thanks for the replies. Regarding the Carver's Gap suggestion I was wondering about a couple of things, like could we park  there and hike/camp for say, 1-2-3 nights and end up back at the car? If so what would be the advantage of taking the shuttle? Also, what about water sources in that area? And given the summer propensity for thunderstorms is much or any of this above tree line? At the moment we are also looking at the Linville Gorge area, Black Balsam and Sam's Knobs, what do you think? As always thanks so much for all your help, Rob.

7:29 p.m. on July 6, 2014 (EDT)
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Rob, You could do that, but there would be some pretty substantial elevation gain if you did that. The shuttle helps to be able to see the whole section and avoid all of the additional elevation gain. If I can, I'll take a picture of the map I have that will show you the profile. As far as water goes, the only source that I know of it by the Overmountain Shelter, which is off the trail, but not terribly far. YES, it is above the treeline, and it definitely gets summer t-storms. I've been through 2 and they are scary. Make sure to check the weather at www.mountain-forecast.com and the range is Appalachian, Blue Ridge (then either Grassy Ridge Bald or Hump Mountain). I think it would be best to try to see all of those places that you can. They are all beautiful! If you go over to Black Balsam and Sam Knob, there is one more place I forgot to tell you about -The Devil's Courthouse. It is a short walk up to the top and it is beautiful! It is just one or two Mileposts up on the Parkway from Black Balsam.

9:39 p.m. on July 6, 2014 (EDT)
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There's a spring at grassy ridge.......and one can camp there...

At the end of the trail---it's down to the left a little bit...

Also there's a spring at the other shelter (which I forget the name of right now) along this route...

Also, going north bound, there's a spring (I think 2 of em close to each other), just coming down from little hump mountain.....and there's a nice camping site here if one doesn't camp atop the balds...

And there's a spring at apple something other gap----really nice campsite here just beyond private property........spring is just downhill from this...

And really close to 19 e......there's a small stream down here......crappy real close to road campsite as well.....looks like it gets a ton of people who want a short in--like 10 to 20 minute walk---campsite .....

5:28 p.m. on July 7, 2014 (EDT)
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Wow, talk about options! OK, Ashleigh, I understand now what you mean re elevation changes, that makes sense. I like the idea of the shuttle much better now. And it seems that lots of people like the Grassy Ridge area. So if we do that one too  we can just park @ Carver's Gap, correct? The Devils Courthouse looks cool, too, so we could drive a couple miles up the BRP from Black Balsam? And Kevin, thanks for info re water. A question for you, you say there is a camping spot 10-20' in w/ a small stream. What makes it crappy? Do you know if there may be fish in there? You say its really close to 19 e, but could you tell me more about the location, unless its so bad you don't think its worth a look. Thanks everyone, lots to nail down as were leaving next week!

5:42 p.m. on July 7, 2014 (EDT)
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And I think I finally get it- if you are above the trees you're on a "bald", right? Still kind of working on "knob."

6:26 p.m. on July 7, 2014 (EDT)
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Park at mountain harbour and have then shuttle ya over to carvers.....safer parking at the hostel than at gap....then it also allows you to go at your own pace back to your car.....

And bald---yeah....not always above treeline but more like a big open grassy or shrubby area......google little hump mountain and you'll see......

The site that I said was crappy is based on what I saw there---a bunch of trash and it looked like one would be sleeping on pebbles (like a road cause I think that's what it was at one point)......but you won't be camping there as its like 20 minutes from the hostel.....

All the campsites I mentioned are right on the trail and one can't miss them......the campsite on grassy ridge is not on the at but it's at the end of grassy ridge trail.....

8:30 p.m. on July 7, 2014 (EDT)
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Right on, Kevin, thanks. That mountain harbor looks cool, you're right so close we don't need the other spot. The site says they have rooms as well as sites, showers included. I'm not exactly sure what you mean about your own pace, though...about how far would you say its back to the car from the drop-off? Also this might be a stupid question but we have never hiked the at before, can you camp anywhere? I do know about the shelters, and I understand and try to practice the LNT ethic, but have heard that sometimes shelters fill up and since its mid-July don't want to risk passing a spot if we can't find another. Have also heard of a spot called Flower gap @ Shining Rock, are you familiar w/ this? Thanks, Rob.

8:59 p.m. on July 7, 2014 (EDT)
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Let's see--and im typing on phone so bear with me...

I've never used their rooms or other facilities.....however what I saw was nice......big parking lot, really nice house, big porch, lots on books around house.....it felt warm and welcoming stepping into the house when it was wide open and nobody there....

The owners---one was in the barn tending to the hostel park of their operation......I never saw this so can't attest.......only thing I can attest to is that there were bunch of people staying there...and they all seemed happy.....

Own pace----hiking at your rate.....as in, in this case if your meeting a shuttle at 4 pm----that would mean potentially changing things in order to meet the shuttle...

I like to get dropped off at the beginning of a hike then I can determine my own pace to get back to car and not obligated to a set time.....I can get out earlier or later depending upon my mood and environment...

In this case---it's best to park at the hostel as carvers gap is not the most safe place to park.....vandalism has been a factor here for years....

Get dropped off at carvers and hike back to your own car........and the at is about a 5 minute walk from where it comes out at road...

Easy peasy....

Then have fun on hike not having to be locked into a set time....

As for at----yeah I think on that stretch you can camp anywhere......however, you would be better off using established spots as they are well placed along route and will take the guessing outta it...

As for overmountain shelter---i didn't stay there....it was a barn.....big and airy.....

I would have stayed there as it was raining buckets but it was crowded (as in over 30 people) and I don't like sleeping like that.....

It's hit or miss as it depends who is on trail...

However, there was tent spots near it...

And all the other places I mentioned---are nice spots and are spaced accordingly......

IMO---this stretch of trail is one of the finest in the southeast......I don't say that lightly either....

If I had two nights 3 days to hike this (it can be done with one night two days)---I would, and also factor in the weather for views stars and moon, eithe first night stay at grassy ridge or a spot near that first shelter (which i can't think of name)......then to go over to little hump, takin lunch at overmountain to check it out and refill water....then camp at little hump...

Spend the next day hiking leasurely over the balds and enjoying it....

Or first night camp at little hump, then second night camp at the apple something another spot.....

But that's just me...

8:09 p.m. on July 8, 2014 (EDT)
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Allright you guys talked us into it. Mountain Harbor to Carvers it is for the first leg. It sounds really cool, evidently very popular not just here but @ other sites, too. After that we'll kind of keep an open mind bearing weather, skills, stamina, etc (obviously mine). Then maybe Black Balsam, Sam Knob, who knows? I want to thank Ashleigh and Kevin for your time, help, and invaluable input. I have a great feeling about this trip armed w/ the knowledge you have given me. If for any reason you find yourselves in central FL and if I can be of any assistance please don't hesitate. Thanks, Rob

9:28 p.m. on July 8, 2014 (EDT)
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You're welcome,  Rob. I hope y'all have a great and safe trip. Feel free to ask any other questions if you think of any more. Glad to help!

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