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Pisgah National Forest, NORTH CAROLINA
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Ranger Review: Mountain House Chicken Noodle Casserole at Profile Campsite

Campsite Review:

About 20 minutes from Boone NC, a new parking area and approach trail begin the Profile hike.  This parking area has been in the works for years and we were excited to finally see the new bathhouse and extension of the trail.  

We parked near the bathhouse and filled out our slip (required of all campers and hikers) before climbing grandfather mountain.  Several additional campsites have been added in this area, as well as some being closed due to black bear activity.  

We hiked about 3 miles, past the creek, through rhododendron tunnels and through grassy gatherings of stinging nettles.  Our son told everyone we passed not to touch them, but that they could eat them!  

We made it to the Profile campsite - about a mile from the top, but a great campsite.  There are several great trees for hanging hammocks and two good tent pads sites.  This site also has bear cables for hanging food and items that the bears would deem interesting.  We were only here for half an hour before additional campers joined us.  They entered as loud, cursing college students, but changed their language upon seeing our youngest and were very friendly.  

We enjoy the campfire pit here best as it is surrounded by rocks that block the wind and make a fire possible at this elevation, but this trip ended in a severe thunderstorm and lots and lots of rain which made that impossible this time.  There are no facilities at this campsite - but this is a great intro to backpacking site to use as the hike is reasonable, both in length and elevation.  

Product Review:  

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products.  At this campsite, I tested the Mountain House Chicken Noodle Casserole which was delicious!!  https://www.mountainhouse.com/m/product/homestyle-chicken-noodle-casserole.html

We most commonly carry our own dehydrated concoctions or more basic meals, but I was pleasantly surprised by both the texture and taste of the Chicken Noodle Casserole.  2 adults and 1 child shared this meal (listed as 3 servings) and were pleasantly satisfied.  We rehydrated 2 pouches, but ended up eating the second pouch the next morning.  There were lots of vegetables and enough flavor (and salt) to satisfy the post hiking cravings.  Our son was especially pleased with this meal, as he said it tasted like chicken pot pie, one of his favorites!  

We boiled water at the beginning of our hike so we could refill waterbottles before heading up.  We usually hike to the top after setting up camp but with the weather looking chancy, we weren't going to risk hitting the spring.  I carried the rehydrating pouch up in my pack and ate about 2 hours later and it was NOT a mushy mess.  I added exactly 2 cups of water and it was perfect.  I can't stress that enough.  I have eaten so many mushy rehydrated meals on the Appalachian Trail, I nearly expect all freeze-dried meals to do the same.  

I would strongly recommend this meal, especially if you like chicken pot pie!

Good location. Sites close together.

Bear Creek is a super cute campground in a great location. It is close to all the things Asheville has to offer. Only drawback is that the sites are very close together.

This place is beautiful

Beautiful sites with or without shelter. All sites included power and water. The creek runs through the middle of the campground and has plenty of places to play in the water or sit on the benches provided in the water. The staff is so sweet and very accommodating. The bathhouse is very nice and clean and includes washers and dryers

Some of the best camping in the state!

The facilities here are some of the best. The bathhouse was immaculate and the campsite large enough for two tents to share comfortably. Would definitely recommend.

Creekside MTN

The campground was nice.The pool and bathrooms were ok.The creek was beautiful

Bikes, Hikes, & Brews

This campground never disappoints! There is great hiking and mountain biking near by, as well as The Oscar Blues Brewery which is always a fun time.

Great camping, terrible cabins.

We stayed here during ski season and it was great! Not very busy, which was fine and only 15 mins to the ski slopes. That trip we had a great experience.

On another occasion, over Labor Day weekend, we tried to get a spot but they were ful. So we decided to rent one of their cabins. Upon arriving, we found out that they had switched our cabin to a different one then the one we had originally booked, and it was so small (which would have been okay, but we had a young baby who needed to sleep in a port-a-crib, which did not fit anywhere in the cabin) but the real issue was that there was mold on the ceiling and coming down some of the walls. We immediately went down to the office, at first we were told there was nothing they could do. After I went momma-bear on them and let them know I would not be staying in a moldy cabin with a baby and demanded my money back, they finally agreed and gave us a refund. Luckily I was able to find a hotel that still had a room available.

So long story short: great for camping, beware of cabins.

Meteor shower

Camped up on Max Patch with friends. It’s a must see/experience for a sunset/sunrise!!!

Great experience

Stayed 20 feet from the water on a holiday weekend! Staff was great!

Cool spot next to the river

Great place for the family close to some epic hiking!

Very busy spot

The staff wasn’t very friendly or flexible about securing a walk up reservation when I had appointment for kayaking at the time checkin started. Place was very clean and sites were well maintained!!

Simply beautiful

Lake James is one of North Carolina’s most desolate locations. Hike in, hide your food, and wait for the bear. Right on the water way, the picturesque scenery of the lake is beyond compare.

Beautiful!

Really nice, small campground situated near several trails.

Great sites great location

Fantastic sites near great trails and water holes.

Popular WNC Campgroubd

I stayed here two nights with my hammock. I didn’t have a reservation but was still able to get a place by being their an hour before checkout.

It’s a very crowded campground and has an incredible staff. I found they were very dedicated and the campsites in great order.

My only complaint is that the bathrooms Where a little gross and in disrepair. I would stay there again.

Best place for the worst trip

Beautiful views on top of the mountain! The restaurant was great! Nice camping pad! Took our 1 yo camping on top of the mountain in late September. The wind tossed out tent back and forth. It want going anywhere but it kept her awake. Drove up and down the mountain in super fog. I could see about 5’ in front of the car. Finally gave up and packed it in at 3:30 am. Had to call the ranger to let us out at 4:15. Such a nightmare. Our fault. Not the park. 🤷‍♂️

Campsites in the Grand Canyon of the East

To get to the dispersed camping area at Table Rock, you have to drive a long, winding road. It is a designated wilderness area, and most of the roads are not well-maintained. Access is not easy, and it is rough on your vehicle. If you know anything about Linville Gorge Wilderness, you know that the views are unparalleled. When you get to the camping area, it doesn’t seem like much, and you have to take everything in because you cannot park at the campsites. We were lucky enough to get one within a hundred yards from where we parked. This is a wilderness area, and there are no amenities. You have to pack in everything. The only things at the campsites are fire rings. However, we had a tremendous view overlooking the town of Marion and Lake James from our site. We looked at other campsites, but the one we chose couldn’t have been more perfect. Other than cooking and sleeping, you will not want to spend a whole lot of time at the campsite because of the trails and the views, unless you just want to relax in a chair and enjoy the view. The night we spent at the campsite, we were caught unprepared in more ways than one. We had spent most of the day hiking and taking photos and were caught in a thunderstorm. We also didn’t take time to look for firewood, and most of it was wet anyway. Our fire was small and didn’t last very long, but that didn’t matter since we had had a fantastic day of photography. We ended up eating a cold supper. If you go, make sure you gather wood during daylight hours or take your own firewood, although taking your own firewood means taking kiln-dried wood wrapped in plastic. If you go hiking along Jonas Ridge(I think that’s the name of it), you can get great views of Linville Gorge and Table Rock. The trail is not easy, and the rocky cliffs can be dangerous. However, the hike is well worth it because of the natural beauty.

Campsites on the Way to Sam Knob

This camping area is part of the Shining Rock Wilderness and is a beautiful place to spend the night. There are several dispersed camping sites from which to choose. The parking area for these campsites is the trailhead for a trail to Sam’s Knob, and there are several other trails close by. It is also within a few miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and there is a roadside waterfall about half a mile up the road along Hwy 276. Another great thing about these campsites is that they are along the East Fork Pigeon River. The campsite I chose was about a tenth of a mile from the trailhead and within earshot of the river, so sleeping at night is great because of the constant sounds of water. However, there are muddy places along the way, and the trail down to the actual campsite is steep, narrow, and mostly overgrown with weeds. Unfortunately, I hadn’t planned on“backpacking,” so I had to made several trips to my campsite—one trip for the tent, one trip for the sleeping bag and sleeping pad, one trip for food, etc. The disadvantage of the campsite I chose is that it is also a popular place for people to play in the river. While I was there, there was a family who was tubing and playing in the water within a few steps of my tent. Other than that, the site was great since it is miles from the nearest town, and at night, you can be in peace. You don’t have to worry about locals invading your space at night since there are no lights(other than my own), and it is down a trail. The worst part about this site, and another site I saw, is that a level spot is hard to find. You have to be careful not to set up your tent on rocks. If you have a small tent, that should not be a problem. It is in the mountains, and the sites are sloped. Another thing I didn’t like was that there were blackflies. They weren’t too bad but just bad enough to be annoying. If you want to go exploring by car, you can drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and see Looking Glass Rock, or you can continue on Hwy 276 and visit Moore’s Cove Falls, Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock, or the Cradle of Forestry in America. Down the road, there is also Moore’s Cove Falls, which is a waterfall you can walk behind. However, it requires a nine-tenths of a mile hike one way. Overall, it’s a great place to get away from civilization, yet you are close to great wonders of nature.

National Forest Campsites close to several Trailheads

This camping area is close to the Blue Ridge Parkway, hence the name, and there are several places to explore in the general area. I had been to these campsites during the off-season, and there was nobody camped there. This time it was a different story. People who camp here want to be away from crowds, but that is difficult on weekends, especially during the summer. If they are not camping here, they come here to hike the Flat Laurel Creek Trail. There are more hikers who come here than campers, and for good reason. The Flat Laurel Creek Trail starts at these campsites and goes to Sam Knob, which is a 6,000 foot peak. You can also hike to Little Sam Knob at 5,862 feet. I made friends with two types of people who visit here. One was a day hiker who has hiked several trails in the area, and today he hiked the Flat Laurel Creek Trail. The other friend I made was Lee Ann. Lee Ann just likes camping away from people in remote areas. She and I hit it off as friends from the start since my preference is to camp where there are not a lot of people. While I was there, there were at least two large groups of day hikers, and several individual hikers. There are two campsites with fire rings, but I wasn’t lucky enough to get one since it was so close to July 4 and it was on a weekend. I had to settle for a small flat spot between the two other sites. The space was beside the trail but it was obviously a well-used site. The site was level with very few rocks where I put my tent. It was almost like a little alcove in the woods. However, even if it sounded crowded, it was not. Lee Ann offered to share her space and campfire with me, and I realized how great it is to camp in areas like this where you meet people with great stories. She even shared information about a trail to a swimming hole down the road. The camper(s) in the other campsite were friendly but not as sociable. There was lots of shade and it seemed more private than it really was. Billy, the day hiker that I met, was an older gentleman, and he told me about all of the trails in the area. I knew about a couple of them, but I didn’t realize the Mountains to Sea Trail was so close. About 3.2 miles from the campsites, you can see Sunburst Falls; but to get the best view, you have to hike down a steep embankment. In the other direction, you can get on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and drive north for about a mile to see Devil’s Courthouse. To get to the top, you have to hike about four-tenths of a mile. You can also take the Mountains to Sea Trail, which is thirty seconds from my campsite, via car, and hike it to Devil’s Courthouse, which is a much longer trail. You will hike over the Blue Ridge Parkway on the way there and not even know you are crossing it because of all the trees. There are also several waterfalls in the area, and some of them you hike to; others you can drive to or hike to. What I really did not like about Blue Ridge Roadside Campsites is that you constantly hear big trucks, including at least half a dozen log trucks and several motorcycles. The tent sites are close to the road, but the sounds from the road are partially blocked out by the sounds of Flat Laurel Creek. If you go to these campsites, you have to take or treat your own water. There are no water, electricity, or sewer hookups. Make sure to take your own toilet paper and trowel/shovel. There are no tent pads, but there are rocks. If you study the area in the daylight, you can find a soft patch of ground. Unless you have your own lantern, it will be dark at night. Unfortunately, the only sounds that make you feel as if you are not in the middle of the wilderness are the sounds of the traffic on the highway. Overall, it was a great campout for being close to several trailheads, but the camping area itself leaves a lot to be desired.

Large National Forest Campground with Sightseeing Opportunities

I have heard a lot of people mention this campground, so I had to try it for myself. One of the first things I learned about national forest campgrounds in North Carolina is that if you want to check out campsites ahead of time, you cannot go in the campground if it is at 85% capacity. You cannot even get through the gate. With that said, my friend and I showed up at Davidson River and were told there were only two sites left. One was a pull-through and the other one was a pull-in. I asked the host which one was more private and better for tents. Since there are over 100 campsites at this campground, I also found out that national forest campgrounds fill up quickly. The site we got was not great, and the layout was not well thought out. Why would you place the fire pit next to the lantern pole. That seems dangerous having a lantern so close to the fire. Nevertheless, it worked out since I placed my propane lantern on the picnic table. For the record, I HATE gravel pads in which the gravel is several inches deep. It is almost impossible to drive tent stakes through it. If you do manage to get a stake through the gravel, you will probably end up with a bent stake. Fortunately, I had a free-standing tent this time, but I also had to set up tarps. Rain was in the forecast, and there was a thunderstorm with a deluge of rain. I didn’t think we were going to be able to have a fire, but there was a break about 9:00 pm. This site also needed some maintenance as far as landscaping. There was lots of poison ivy, and the weeds were too close to the driveway and the tent pad. 

One of the biggest reasons people come to this area is to enjoy what the Pisgah National Forest has to offer. Within walking distance is the trailhead for the Art Loeb Trail, and many other trails are not too far away. It is within a short driving distance of one of my favorite waterfalls (Looking Glass Falls), the Blue Ridge Parkway, several other waterfalls, and several other trails. At the campground, there is a popular swimming area where people can fish, swim, and go tubing. I didn’t come across a group camping area, but there is a large activity field which was titled“Deer Field.”  Also within the confines of the campground, there is English Chapel, which is an active church. Campers are welcome to visit, according to the sign. There is an“exercise” trail, and I saw several joggers on the trail and on the roads throughout the campground. There is mountain laurel throughout the campground, which creates some photographic beauty. There are several camping loops throughout the campground, and each one has its own bath house. The one closest to us had one shower, a urinal, and one stall. The shower is a push button type, so you have to push it repeatedly for your shower. One thing that surprised me was that generators are allowed, except in one loop. As we explored the campground further, I can’t imagine how other campers can put up with the noise.  I could hear it from a hundred yards away. This campground takes precautions against bears and we had a metal food container at our campsite. That is one thing I did like about our site. There were also recycling bins located within the campground. The only reason I didn’t give this campground five stars is because it needed some landscaping work and that generators are allowed. Other than that, this is a great campground, especially since it is so close to great hiking and great waterfalls.

A Campground which is Part of Something Bigger than Itself

The Lake Junaluska Campground seems small, but it cannot be separated from Lake Junaluska. Lake Junaluska is home of the Methodist Assembly, and the campground is part of it. Therefore, the amenities with the campground are the amenities for the Lake Junaluska Assembly. The campground itself has RV sites, tent sites, and cabins. Every time I passed by the campground in the past, all I saw were RVs in front, so I naturally thought it was strictly an RV park. Looking for somewhere to camp close to home, I decided to do some checking. Low and behold, they have primitive campsites, but I could not find prices. I emailed the campground with questions, but I didn’t get a reply until after I stayed there. I decided to take a chance and show up, and I’m glad I did. The following night would not have been very good since they were completely booked. I was lucky enough to show up on the right day for available sites. Apparently, they fill up during the weekends or when there are special events at the Assembly. The tent sites do have water or electricity, but the spaces and tent pads are very small. Even though there was only one tent camper in the tent area tonight, the space still seemed crowded. I would rather pay a little extra for an RV site with more room. Site 240 is much larger and has water and electricity, although it was really meant to be an RV site. The bathrooms are small and utilitarian—nothing fancy; however, the campground is small, so it’s a short walk to the bath house. The campground does sell firewood($6.00 for a bundle and starter). Downed wood to use for tinder and kindling is almost impossible to find, so if you don’t want to spend money on firewood, bring your own. If you are in an RV, there is a$10 fee for the dump station. Most people who camp here at Lake Junaluska Campground don’t come here specifically for the campground. They come here for the Lake Junaluska activities and conventions across the road. There, you can launch your own canoes, kayaks, jon boats, etc. for free, or you can rent canoes and kayaks to use on the lake. Canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats are $5.00 for half an hour, and paddle boards are$10.00 per hour. Fishing is allowed in several spots, and there are a couple of docks for fishing. I was lucky enough to come to Lake Junaluska at the right time of year. There is the famous“rose walk,” which is over a hundred yards long beside the sidewalk. May is the prime time for seeing the roses. Back to the campground. It does not offer a lot of amenities within the confines of the camping area, but being a part of the Lake Junaluska Assembly makes up for it. You could spend days enjoying what it has to offer, whether it is walking or jogging around the lake, playing in the water, paddling on the water, fishing, playing tennis or shuffleboard, or simply watching the swans and geese. If you are not cooking at the campsite you could drive to Lambuth Inn, which is also part of the Assembly. There are three dining halls, but when I camp, I like to cook at the campsite. Unfortunately, when you stay at the campground, you will hear noise from the road since it is a U. S. highway. Other than the road noise, the campground seemed very quiet, and a lot of the campers were senior citizens.

Amazing place to visit

We planned to camp so we could enjoy Asheville, and picked Mama Gertie's Campground for the positive reviews compared to some of the other campgrounds around. We ended up enjoying the campground so much that we cut our Asheville visit short to enjoy Swannanoa and Black Mountain. 

Some key elements of any great campground are: 

  1. Nature 5/5  Mama Gertie's gets a 5/5 from me. This campground is  nestled literally in the mountains. The owners have put work and love into this campground and it shows. There are multiple levels of camping up to the very top with decks overlooking the mountains. There's hardscaping at each level and trees in between. We were fortunate enough to camp under tree blossoms. It was beautiful. Can't wait to return when the the leaves are on the trees.
  2. Clean Restrooms 5/5   We have a pop-up, so a clean bathroom is a must for me. They get a 5/5 again. Killing it with the clean bathrooms that smell good and are dry and warm. The showers are also very nice, we are talking gray tile I'd put in my bathroom at home, kinda nice. 
  3. Campsites 5/5   The campsites are clean, well maintained with a picnic table at each site. Couldn't ask for better. The fire pit is clean and neat with an optional grill grate. 
  4. Friendly Customer Service 5/5   The staff, perhaps the owners, were friendly and extremely helpful. The man escorted us to our site and then guided us in the back-up site (wish we had him we when backed up our camper the very first time). A friendly woman checked us in and and out. 

Note: Dogs allowed and they have multiple places for you to clean up your dog poo and place it in a trash receptacle.  PSA: If you cannot do this, you probably shouldn't have a dog.   There's also a fenced in area for your dogs to run. There is fitness equipment for adults only. No pool, I'd say this campground is intended for a quiet, chill camping experience.

A small, deluxe campground in the mountains, 15 minutes to Asheville

We visited this campground to escape the torrential downpour in early June that threatened to flood the KOA east campground down the road. First thing you notice when you pull in is that this is a gated campground; you need a passcode or a buzz in from the office to enter. Once you pass through the gate the other first thing you notice is that the roads are steep! I've read about this from other reviews and sometimes you shrug off these statements as personal perspective, thinking it won't be that bad. But let me tell you, come prepared! It's doable, but you better have good traction going up and good brakes coming down. Once you get past the steepness, you'll see that the campground is very nicely laid out. The sites are terraced on the side of the hill (fairly level considering the steepness) and the landscaping is well-cared for and beautiful.  Sites look like they have been recently graveled and there are nice picnic tables and above ground fire pits at each site. There is decent spacing between sites for a sense of space, but close enough that it feels like a neighborhood. At the top of the first hill is a dog park. Keep going up and there is another neighborhood at the top and here is where you get the views. It is flat and cleared up in this section, but the sites are arrayed in a rather funky fashion (see map). Some are lined up parallel in the usual fashion, while others are parallel to the road and unless they are occupied, hard to tell the difference between the road and the site. All the sites up here are crammed in closer together, and the rare, few (deluxe) sites have wooden decked with swings overlooking a tremendous view of Mt. Mitchell and the Blue Ridge. The bathrooms are clean. For tent campers, your sites are in a separate area next to the cabins. It's a little tight getting down to the tent camper area, with only enough space for one smallish vehicle to park for each space. The exercise room, camp store, and laundry are all down in the two-story office building. 

In all, this is a very nice campground. A little more expensive than the surrounding places, but you make up for it in how well it is taken care of. It is convenient to both Asheville and Black Mountain. While we were in the area we visited both, drove on the Blue Ridge parkway, hiked Mount Mitchell and the trails around Montreat, and visited Hendersonville (highly recommend this cute little town).  And of course there is a lot we didn't do, the Biltmore Estate being at the top of this list. Happy camping!

Nice place

Very crowded little campground. People will walk right through your campsite here. It feels like there are to many people and not enough campsites.

Rustic and beautiful

Beautiful campground, A little on the crowded side with all the other campers, mtn bikers, and fishermen but a beautiful campground

Beautiful river and fun for kids

They have a very nice playground area and the beach access by the river was also very nice. Very well maintained campground. They do charge $5 each to use the pool which I thought was odd but they had a lifeguard on duty so that’s likely the reason. Overall it was a very nice place and we would definitely go back. We went to downtown Burnsville and were pleasantly surprised. It had restaurants, a cute downtown, and neat playground called kid mountain.

Best camping ever

The sites alone made you feel like you were backcountry camping. Secluded, with privacy. The bathhouses were nice, clean, easy access. We had an amazing time, the river was the perfect white noise to sleep to. I recommend site 15. It’s perfect, with a little tunnel to the bathroom and entrance.

Nice campground

Nice place to visit and close to Chimney Rock

Love Hidden Creek

Best family campground ever.We loved the canoes and waterslide