Harmon Den is on the Appalachian Ranger District in the vicinity of exit 7 off of I-40. The area is a haven for hikers and horseback riders. It offers 54.5 miles of trails with 14.2 miles of trails designated for horseback riding and 40.3 miles for hiking. ACTIVITIES Camping Hiking: Trail Difficulty Easy: Route is easy to find and follow; trail has less than 8 percent grade; length is less than 3 miles; trail is mostly flat with few rocks. Moderate: Route may or may not be blazed; most of the trail has a less than 20 percent grade; length is usually between 2 and 8 miles; trail may be rocky and have stream crossings. Difficult: Route may require pathfinding skills; most of the trail has a 20 percent or steeper grade; length is usually more than 8 miles; trail is rocky and uneven and may have stream crossings. Horseback Riding: No trace horse hints: Take only fit, calm, experienced animals. Stay on the trail, and ride in a single file. Water horses at natural fords or from a bucket. Keep stock tethered at least 200 feet away from streams and away from trails and campsites. Avoid temporarily tying stock to trees. Use a highline with tree-saver straps to tether your animal. This prevents stock from trampling roots and chewing bark. Break up and scatter manure and fill in pawed holes when breaking camp. Pack some grain, since grazing is limited. Be certain that feed is weed-free to prevent noxious plants from spreading. Hunting: Part of Harmon Den in Haywood County, NC and the area north of US 25/70 to the Tennessee State line are bear sanctuaries where bear hunting is not allowed. Outside the sanctuaries, hunting is popular for bears as well as for deer. While the US Forest Service manages wildlife habitat, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission regulates hunting seasons and limits. A state license is required for hunting. Every hunter should get a copy of the Regulations Digest from the commission by calling (919) 662-4381 or from the website: www.wildlife.state.nc.us, select "regulations". Picnicking Wildlife Viewing Horse Camping: No trace horse hints: Take only fit, calm, experienced animals. Stay on the trail, and ride in a single file. Water horses at natural fords or from a bucket. Keep stock tethered at least 200 feet away from streams and away from trails and campsites. Avoid temporarily tying stock to trees. Use a highline with tree-saver straps to tether your animal. This prevents stock from trampling roots and chewing bark. Break up and scatter manure and fill in pawed holes when breaking camp. Pack some grain, since grazing is limited. Be certain that feed is weed-free to prevent noxious plants from spreading.
Camped up on Max Patch with friends. It’s a must see/experience for a sunset/sunrise!!!
Ranger Review: Eclipse Sun Sleeves at Harmon Den Area(Pisgah National Forest) https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/recarea/?recid=70836
There are a few dispersed camping sites at Harmon’s Den, and they are spacious sanctuaries beside Cold Springs Creek. Harmon Den is in Pisgah National Forest, and dispersed camping is allowed but only where there is a camping symbol posted along Cold Springs Creek Road. To get to the campsite, you have to get off on Exit 7 along Interstate 40 in North Carolina and travel a gravel road for several miles. You will not want to drive too fast since there are several potholes, washboards, and protruding rocks in the road. At the campsite, there is a fire ring, but there are no other facilities such as bathrooms, showers, electricity, running water, trash cans, camp store, firewood for sale, campground hosts, etc. It is pretty much just a space for camping. With that said, it offers all the exciting activities that national forests offer, such as fishing, biking, hiking, etc. Harmon Den is mostly known as a horse camp, although car camping without horses is a common occurrence. When I was there, I passed by a couple of car campers that did not have horses. I did see a few vehicles with horse trailers pass by on the road. Because it is a popular horse camping area, you have to watch where you step. At our campsite, there was horse poop in several places, and I had to watch my grandson closely so he didn’t step in a pile of horse manure. Expect to encounter horse flies as well. There was also lots of poison ivy, so that was another concern I had about my grandson running freely. Since there are no bathrooms, practicing LNT(Leave No Trace) is important. Unfortunately, there was lots of trash, but that was a teachable moment for my grandson, and we definitely left the campsite better than what we found it. Before it gets dark, make sure you know where you are going to take care of business when you have to get up in the middle of the night. That way, you can avoid stepping in the wrong place. There were also quite a few people fishing in the creek on the way to the campsite since the creek is a popular place for trout fishing. As a matter of fact, a wildlife officer came through our camp with a fishnet full of trout to stock the creek. She asked us if we brought our fishing poles. Unfortunately, that’s one thing I didn’t take camping with me. What was I thinking? Even with the horse poop and the poison ivy, it’s a great area for camping if you like solitude and the sounds of the creek throughout the night. Another reason to camp at Harmon Den is to visit Max Patch while you are there. I would suggest staying at least two nights so you can spend one day just enjoying Max Patch. It is a large mountain bald over which the Appalachian Trail crosses. I have been there in the past when people are having picnics, flying kites, or just lying on a blanket enjoying the magnificent scenery. If you go at the right time of year, one of the trails up to Max Patch will take you by wild blueberries and blackberries. As I stated earlier, the campsites are spacious, and it felt very peaceful just being there.
As a Dyrt Ranger I get to occasionally try out outdoor products while camping and this trip I brought Eclipse Sun Sleeves(https://eclipseglove.com/)..) As a stem cell transplant survivor from stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I can never be in the sun without adequate protection for the rest of my life. That’s why Eclipse clothing is perfect for me. Even in the middle of the summer, I have had to wear long sleeves and a broad-brimmed hat. I had earlier written a review for the Eclipse shawl, but with the Eclipse Sun Sleeves, I can finally wear my short sleeve shirts again. Since I love the outdoors and have some cool t-shirts, all I have to do is put on my sun sleeves and I am protected. The only thing I could see that might need improving would be to figure out how to keep the upper part to stay up. It wasn’t that much of a problem, and I don’t how the company could solve it, but overall, the sun sleeves are great. I would further like to say that because of sun sleeves, those who are allergic to the sun have one less excuse not to go outdoors in the sun..
I've camped at Max Patch and absolutely loved it. What is upsetting is that people pitch tents and build campfires on the summit, which damages the fragile maintained meadow. There are specific campgrounds only a ten minute walk from the summit. This is where I camp when I go. Just take the trail around the mountain instead of the erosion-causing trail straight up to the summit. There are a couple of nice spots by a creek. It would be unpleasantly crowded on the top anyway. Grab a headlamp and take the quick walk up/down for sunrise/sunset, then retreat to your private campsite.