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I’m a reluctant camper and hiker doing this to spend time with my family so factor that in to my review. I had a permit, but no one asked to see it. Perhaps anyone who might had left for the day. My pack weighed at least 30lbs. and I’m new to this, so it took me forever to get up here. It was dark by the time we arrived and boy, was I disappointed to learn this shelter is situated PAST the lodge. My exhaustion made the merriment I glimpsed behind its fire-warmed window panes seem cruel, but I’m sure it wasn’t as personal as it seemed in the moment. There were two other tents set up outside the shelter when we arrived so I set up my camp, silently, by the light of my otherwise useless iphone. I would’ve slept inside the shelter, even though the entrance was covered by a plastic tarp that read, “keep out” (because of COVID, maybe?), but my son told me there would be mice. Then, he did something with our food that involved some system of ropes and pulleys, but I didn’t care if I were eaten by a bear. At least then I wouldn’t have had to hike down. Or discover what a “compost toilet” is.
Yarberry Peninsula is such a great place to spend time, no matter what time of year you visit. This trip was in January, and it was chilly, especially on the lake front site I stayed on, but it is just so beautiful, you can handle a little cold to stay at such a nice place. I booked site 19, and it is waterfront, with so much space right on the shoreline. I highly recommend booking your spots very early, as it cam be difficult to get a spot during the warmer months. There is a campground store, it was not open when I was there this time, but usually is during warmer months. They have essentials, and rental kayaks and such. The campground is gated, so there’s not really any traffic passing through. The sites are all mostly level, and I think most have a lake view even if you’re not lakefront. They have boat slips for rent also. I’m really looking forward to staying here this summer!
The Gee Creek Campground is apart of the Hiwassee/Ocoee State Park. The state park/campground adjoins the Cherokee National Forest and sits on the north bank of the Hiwassee River outside of Benton, TN. The park has a nice size bath house that is heated during the winter. The showers are push valve with no temperature control, so you will periodically have to push the valve for water. There is an A and B loop. The sites on the North side of loop A are fairly uneven and would require a significant amount of leveling blocks if using a camper. There is a nice nature trail that loops around the park. The park also offers a boat launch for river access. At the visitor center, fire wood can be purchased. There is also a bike maintenance stand at the visitors center. Just past the park, lies the Cherokee National Forest where there are many options for outdoor recreation. Potable water is available from spickets placed around each loop. Each campsite has a concrete picnic table, fire ring, and lantern post. Verizon service was moderate.
I had the opportunity to tour this facility before it was open to the public. This is going to be a phenomenal RV Resort. Big-rig friendly, a HUGE pool with a hot tub, fishing, kayaking, and hiking trails. Inside the lodge, there will be meeting spaces, a retail store, and an on-site concierge. If you have been to Catherine's Landing, this resort is going to be even more magnificent (If that is even possible)!
Note that there are multiple campsites on this lake, some are drive up, some you have to walk to. There is also a campground called "Lake Santeetlah" that is not free. The site by the boat launch was quiet, free, and had beautiful views of the lake. I arrived right before sunset on a week day and found it unoccupied. There was a picnic table, and established flat area to set up a tent. No bathrooms or running water available.
Warning: the road to get to Lake Santeetlah has endless sharp turns & drop-offs, would not recommend driving this in the dark.
This site is a small clearing near the parking trailhead for Picken's Nose that has an established firepit and a space prepared for a single tent or a pair of hammocks. It does not have much to offer other than the fact that it is so close to the car. It would be a good spot to set up if you want to get some early climbing in but don't want to hike in with all your camping gear. You will definitely get a better view and the camping is better at the actual climbing area but this is a decent alternative if you get a late start.
First time renting a teardrop trailer and camping in it, lot was tricky for us to back into but we managed and the set up was great with a fire ring, picnic table, potable water and hook up. Also a great view. Nice and quiet site with bathrooms and showers nearby.