Van Hook Glade is a scenic, secluded campground in the heart of the Nantahala National Forest. Convenient for families and anglers, the campground is in close proximity to hiking trails, scenic views, waterfalls and a nearby lake.
Campers can easily relax with a book or deck of cards in the shaded campsites, or seek out many activities close by. A short trail in the campground leads to the Cliffside Lake Recreation Area, which offers six hiking trails ranging from easy to moderate, as well as trout fishing, picnicking and swimming. Boating is not permitted.
Van Hook glade is a short drive from Dry Falls and Whitewater Falls.
Van Hook Glade offers 18 secluded sites, all equipped with picnic tables, tent pads, lantern posts and campfire rings with grills. Hot showers and flush toilets are also provided, and firewood is available for purchase on-site.
The campground is located just 4 miles from the scenic and cultural attractions of Highlands, North Carolina, offering shady campsites in a heavily wooded and secluded area situated on rolling hills. The elevation is 4,118 feet, and the calm waters of Cliffside Lake sit adjacent.
A morning or late afternoon drive down scenic Highway 64 is sure to present visitors with amazing views. The quaint town of Highlands has a general store and various attractions, while the larger town of Franklin has shopping, a casino, grocery stores and performing arts.
ADA Access: N
I really love this place. There are many spots nearby to fish or hike including the nearby Cliffside Lake Rec. Cliffside Lake is stocked with trout and there is a great hike to Ranger Falls here. If you have your camping pass displayed you get into the Cliffside Lake rec area for free. Additionally, the campground is just a cross hwy. 64 from the Cullasja River which, in addition to being beautiful, offers good trout fishing as well. The campground is close to Highlands NC, a quaint little mountain town with an a few shops and restaurants. My biggest complaint is that there is not enough room in the campground. It seems to always be booked up when I want to go back.
This place has no electric hookups, but a good enough bath house. We come here annually. The staff is nice at the campground and at the lake you can hike to (or drive to) that is associated with the campground. The lake is beautiful, and we were lucky enough to catch a raptor show there. The kids love this campground. They can ride their bikes around and they play all day long. Close proximity to the horseshoe falls and other great hikes.
Very pretty and well maintained. Bathroom facilities were clean and in excellent shape. Firewood is available for sale at the campground host.
Only things to add from the previous reviews:
Dry Falls is quite close by - a walk behind waterfall. Bust Your Butt falls is a fun sliding rock in certain conditions, about 5 mins. downstream.
Some sites are reserveable, but often you can just drive in a claim a spot.
Bear proof garbage cans are on site; people often report seeing them; I haven't here. Don't leave your food out - I leave it in my car in a cooler.
Super nice rangers.
If you want to go out, bring nice clothes for Highlands (about 5 min. drive) and clean up; it's a wealthy enclave.
Trout fishing in the Cullasaja is pretty tough. Cliffside Lake just up the hill from the campground has lots of big and pretty dumb stocked trout and some giant uncatchable bass. For the trout, get your line way out there and fish with bait under a bobber - all of the fish are in the current in the middle of the lake at least 10-15 feet down.
Best nearby hikes are Whiteside Mountain, Glen Falls, and Chattooga Narrows trails (all shortish half day hikes).
Also a popular sliding rock on Whiteside Cove Rd where the Chattooga River crosses it.
Occasionally the campground is a popular stopping point for groups of motorcyclists to stop and shower; sometimes late at night.
Enjoy---I always do!
Van Hook Glade located in North Carolina is a small, quite place to camp. I have only been here once, but enjoyed my time here. There is a really beautiful river that is right across from the campsite called Cullasaja River. My family and I enjoyed swimming in the river, and we also did a little fishing. There is also Cliffside Lake Recreation Area which is just right around the corner from the campground. Here, you can swim, hike, fish, and use their picnic areas. They also have outdoor classes they offer that you can take as well. The campground itself was really nice, and clean. There are showers on site, and each camp spot had a small picnic table and fire ring. We hung out by the fire at night and roasted marshmallows for smores. The campground wasn't really busy, maybe because it is a smaller campground. Great place to visit, with lots of activities around. The campground may not offer activities you want, but there are places very close that will! Within walking distance!!
The campground sits in a section of the Nantahala national forest along the edge of the Cullasaja River hiking distance to both some incredible views and majestic waterfalls. We had the exciting chance to visit several of these waterfalls and have an amazing adventure over July 4th weekend. The weather was hot but bearable and the conditions were perfect for playing in the water.
Van Hook Glade campground is organized as a single loop consisting of around 10 or so primitive campsites each with a nice bit of privacy and a parking area. The site has no gate just an area you can go stop to pay for the night. There is also a campground host that you can check in with regarding questions or issues. Since it is a national forest campground you can reserve online and there are the fees though this comes with the associated amenities such as nice bathrooms and well cared for sites. While there we saw about an even mix of small RVs and tent only setups and each was separate enough from the other to be very comfortable. I would highly recommend checking this place out if you are visiting the Highlands area.
Since you are so close you must check out the nearby waterfalls that we saw while on our visit. I'll just describe our day to discuss a few of the options. We first parked along the road on the Northern end of the national forest and hiked down a steep hill to see parts of Cullasaja falls that has rapid moving water and some small but dangerous pools that you can carefully dip in. These forests are beautiful in the summer since they are cooler than the nearby city and luscious with greenery. Next, we continued up the road (to the south) and arrived at Bust Your Butt falls as it is colloquially known that includes both a natural rock slide and a cliff you can safely jump off of. This place was hopping and everyone was trying out the different options. Check out my video below to see me daringly jumping off the 10 ft ledge (I did manage to hold my hands flat when I hit the water which hurt for a few minutes). The water was cold but perfect for a hot summer day. Just as we were finishing up our time her the sky opened up as it often does in this area and we made it to the car just in time. Our final stop of the day was Dry Falls, so named because you can actually walk behind the falls and stay (relatively) dry. It is an amazing sight to see and worth the short walk down some stairs.
Overall, this is one of the best campsites you can stay at in the area if you are doing car camping and don’t want to get stuck in an RV park. Also since it is right in the National Forest you can easily get to all the nearby destinations.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campground, I tested the Matador NanoDry Shower Towel. This ended up being a necessary gear addition for this locale since enjoying the area meant both swimming (drying) and hiking (packability). Some of the things my wife and I really loved about the Matador towels are:
- Weight/Size: I have used several backpacking towels over the years and they have all suffered in 3 ways that Matador managed to fix. They are either too small, too heavy and bulky, or not effective at drying and some fit into all 3 categories. The first thing I noticed with these towels was just how light they were. When you take them out of their case you will be surprised at how nice it would be to take them backpacking. At the same time when you open them up, they are almost as large as a standard shower towel and can fit around your entire body. This combination of super thin, light, and large led me to believe that they wouldn’t be able to do a great job of drying.
- Wicking ability: However, I was proven completely wrong and found that they were able to dry me off incredibly well and I also noticed that if I wrung out the towel it was almost dry again and could be used over and over again. I found that after only 3 times wiping myself down I went from soaking to dry and was comfortable getting back in the car to drive to the next destination. We could then hang the towels up a the end of the day and they would be ready to go for another adventure the next day.
- Included case: Finally, the included breathable case makes it super easy to hike in with the towels but not have to worry about putting them back in your bag wet and getting your gear soaked. I also appreciated that it made them easier to pack up, unlike other towels that need to be rolled a certain way to get a clasp to close.
Overall, these towels are incredibly affordable for how well they work and how can be vital for any camping trip or travel situation where water will be involved but space is a concern.
I've been to Van Hook Glade about 12 times in the last 7 years. It has about 18 sites, no utilities hook ups, but nice bathrooms and hot showers. Firewood is available for purchase, Well water available throughout the campground. There is no TV or cell service. I drive into Highlands, (about 4 miles) to get a cell signal (T-Mobile). It's very quiet and you have access to Cliffside Lake recreation area where you can swim, fish or hike. About half of the sites are reservable through the reservation system. Sites 7, 8, and 12 require you to climb steps to get to/from your vehicle from/to your campsite. Each site has a fire ring, lantern post, picnic table and tent pad. Have never been bothered by bear, raccoons or other varmints, but have had field mice get into my car and tent on more than one occasion.
Van Hook Glade is a small national forest campground. The restrooms are very nice. The elevation in the area makes this a great place to go during the heat of the summer. There are many sites to visit nearby. Western North Carolina is hard to beat for natural beauty. The campground is rarely full these days which surprises me since we could never get in when I was a kid. The only negative I saw was that you do hear some road noise from Hwy. 64.
Great, small campground near Highlands, NC. Private sites, nice hosts, and clean bathrooms. The temperature here in the hot summer is outstanding… it's 15-20 degrees cooler than elsewhere in the state due to high elevation.
Highly limited cell phone reception but only if you have Verizon. Five minute drive into town and you are fine though.
I stayed in site 1 which is close to the road, but surrounded by rhododendron and super private.
Nice walking trails to the state forest lake next door. Area attractions include lots of waterfalls, hiking, and creek walking.