Carolina Hemlocks Recreation Area sits in the scenic mountains of Pisgah National Forest. This is a great place for small to medium-sized groups to swim, fish, tube, hike, camp, picnic and simply relax in the cool shade of the forest.
The river provides endless hours of fun for families and water enthusiasts, including swimming and tubing. Anglers can also try their luck for trout and smallmouth bass from the shore. Picnickers will enjoy relaxing in the shaded picnic shelter set amidst the deep woods. After eating, visitors can take a leisurely walk along a one-mile trail or get a workout on a 3.8-mile trail.
Carolina Hemlocks Recreation Area offers 35 primitive campsites, sites equipped with picnic tables, tent pads, lantern posts and campfire rings with grills. The facility provides hot showers and restrooms with flush toilets. Campers can purchase firewood, ice, tee shirts, souvenirs and rent tubes.
As the name suggests, Carolina Hemlocks Recreation Area is shaded by a thick hemlock forest with a mix of deciduous trees and rhododendrons. The facility is adjacent to the South Toe River and sits at an elevation of 2,900 feet.
Visitors can enjoy scenic driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway or hiking in Mount Mitchell State Park.
ADA Access: N
We stayed at the Carolina Hemlocks campground while taking a road trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway. Very private campground that borders the South Toe River. Nice tubing put in and a great swimming spot directly in the campground. The bathrooms and shower was well taken care. Very friendly camp hosts. We stayed in site 31, which was a nice wooded private spot in the back of the campground.
We stayed for two nights, a little away from the main camp area but was kinda glad for it. Had a great spot tucked into the woods near the water. Great path to skip rocks and just enjoy. Fire pit was a little weird but made it work. We were close to the road which was kind of a bummer but as I mentioned, not in the main area so probably can’t fault it for that.
When driving through the main area though, spaces were pretty tight, very full, and not all seemed friendly for a camper/RV though there were some. It was truly beautiful though, gas station on the way in and downtown Burnsville/grocery store wasn’t too far away.
Sites are limited and can’t be reserved in advance.
We stayed four days, the river was beautiful and the camp site nice. We stayed on the river side of the road and our site was layer out very strangely but it had a nice space for the fire and picnic table, our tent was partially on the asphalt driveway as there was literally no where else to put it. We enjoyed experience there. We had so much fun tubing on the river, there were several people fishing and catching trout. I recommend that if you go that you stay on the inside sites, not the ones by the river. The bathrooms were pretty bad, most days they were out of toilet paper for part of the day, they were not really clean at all. One shower out of four would stay on for 9 seconds and then you had to push the button again, that was a very frustrating shower. The second shower would stay on for more than an hour so the rest of the showers were only slightly warm. Multiple people reported that the one shower was staying on for more than an hour, the camp hosts said they were aware that there was a problem with the timer. All and all the sites are nice, the river is awesome and the bathrooms were not good.
Great spot tucked in a bend of the South Toe River. The reservable sites are MUCH smaller than they look online, particularly site 7, which is the perfect size for a motorcycle and a one-man tent. We reserved the site and our car was barely out of the street when parked!
We moved to site 18, which was not on the river, but delightful regardless. If your site is not by the river, you run the risk of being near Hwy 80. I can confirm that Hwy 80 is used 24x7 -- it's not terrible, but it's not Silent Night either. The tent pad was slightly elevated with excellent drainage, which was a good thing or we couldn't have stayed dry for two nights.
The hosts were friendly and hard-working, getting firewood delivered and keeping the facilities clean, which was a miracle given the wet weather. I would not drink the water without boiling it; could have been the weather during our visit, but the water was an interesting golden yellow color.
The campground is beautifully wooded, although there was a fair number of recently felled trees lying about. The host said the forest service came in and cut them down because they were too close to the campsites. Huh? Regardless, they did not clear the trees away, so one has to clamber over them going from site to site.
We had planned a 4-day stay with a 15-person group spread over 5 sites. Unfortunately, what seemed like the first hurricane of the season parked itself over the NC mountains and dumped at least 6 inches of rain in 48 hours and, since there was no improvement in the forecast and we couldn't do any of our planned activities, we made for home early.
The reservable Pavilion is beautifully situated and was a nice respite from the rain for our group one evening.
We did visit the Penland School and had lunch at DT's in Spruce Pine -- both highly recommended.
I plan to return at the first opportunity to enjoy Carolina Hemlocks and the surrounding area in better weather.
Super clean, respect it just as others have. Plenty of space, bring the family. Dog friendly!!!!
This campground is an awesome place beside a river. Great camping sites. Tubing, swimming and fishing. Family friendly. No electricity. Cool at night. Just a wonderful place to get away. We have been going for over 30 years. We still love it.
This campground has spacious sites that are on a first come basis. There is also a day use area with spots along the river. In the summer you can swim and tube down the river. There’s also a beautiful 1 mile river walk. The bathrooms aren’t always the best hence the reason for 4-stars.
This campground is small and comfortable. It is tucked in next to the South Toe River with an excellent swimming hole, rapids for tubing, great trout fishing, and a good launching off point for hikes into the Black Mountains and Mt Mitchell.