The best HIKE IN camping near
Carthage , TENNESSEE

203 Reviews18 Campgrounds

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Most Recent Carthage Camping Reviews
Nice at one point

You can tell this park had a hayday, but it has passed and the maintenance has not been done. Our site was very narrow and had a huge drop off, we were told the neighbors beside us about flipped theirs trying to back in. The site was not level and the water was on the opposite side of our camper (more annoying than anything), and they didn’t take time to prepare it before our arrival (so many leaves and pine needles you can’t tell where the deck began and the gravel began and the parking pad began). The laundry was also out of order. We didn’t have enough room to park at our campsite, (the drop off was too much for the truck) but the people across from us were kind offered us to park in their site. If you stay here, I recommend only doing pull through sites. They were spaced out enough and did include water and electric hookup.

Very nice!

Sites are level clean and fairly easy to get into.

Clean and quiet

We camped here in January. It was very quiet because the other campers were all RVers who spent most of their time inside. The bathrooms were very clean and we basically had them to ourselves, since the RVers used their RVs. This park was really nice and we got some great sunrises over the water. Loved having a water spigot onsite. Only an hour away from Nashville if you want to visit!

Awesome Waterfalls

 Rock Island State park is a great place to camp. The campground is large and the campsites are spacious and far enough apart that you feel secluded, even when it’s full. It’s heavily wooded, so you don’t feel like your neighbors on right on top of you. The sites are paved and have water and electric, no septic where I was, however and they have a dump station that was large enough for two people to use at the same time. There are so many things to do at the campground, or the park, you will not be bored. Rock Island has some of the best waterfalls in Tennessee, and you can get right up to some them, if you are brave enough to kayak close to them. They also have a swimming area, and sand volleyball. Great biking in the park also. The area has lots of little shops and antique stores, if you’re into that, and Calf Killer Brewery is a short drive, and I highly recommend visiting there. Overall, this is a great park to visit, and a great place to camp.

Bridgestone- Firestone, Virgin Falls

Bridgestone-Firestone-Virgin Falls WMA This WMA is the cream of the crop. I think it’s the largest WMA I’ve ever been to. I think we had the perfect camp spot. Nice and level, wooded and secluded, fire pit already constructed, plenty of firewood around. If you love primitive camping, this place is a goldmine. There’s no shortage of great camp sites too. Virgin Falls is nearby, however the trail was closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. There is also a store there, but it was also closed. I was here back in spring turkey season, and there were only a couple other hunters that were camping that I saw. During hunting season, you can only camp here if you are hunting, but it is always free. This is a very nice choice for free primitive camping.

Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness - Gem of a Place

This is one of my favorite areas to hike and camp. There are three official camping areas: Cable Crossing, Martha’s Pretty Point, and at Virgin Falls. There are two ways to get to the Point: the main trail (white blaze) and the Upland Trail (blue blaze). The Upland trail is about 2.4 miles to the point, is mostly a wide gravel logging road, and is easy until you get to a creek crossing in the woods where it is a little confusing as to which direction to take. We actually got a little lost in the woods on the last trip because it was overgrown at that spot and just wasn’t very obvious. But we retraced our steps and figured it out. Campsites 4-7 are up on the point. 7 is the largest and most secluded. 6 is also very nice. 5 is right along the main trail, across from the point, and 4 is right at the point, which sounds nice, but day hikers walk right through the site to get to the overlook. Part of the creek runs right below the point, past the ladder on the trail back down to the main trail (upland trail is somewhat of a loop). But don’t count on water. I hiked it two weeks before I went back and camped it. It was running when I hiked it, 2 weeks later it was dry despite having rained for days. We tarped rainwater the first night and hiked the half mile down to the creek on the main trail the next day for water. Finding a good tree to hang the food was no problem here, and we had no close encounters with any wildlife. We did hear coyotes in the distance the first night, which was nice. 

Campsites 1-3 are at Cable Crossing**. Campsite #1 is the most secluded of the three, with a rock wall on one side which is nice. But it’s the least level of the sites. I don’t like it because of that. Site 2 is flat, but small. Site 3 is large and flat. We had 4 tents there easily. These sites are right along the main trail, so there’s a lot of traffic. Wood to burn is very scarce here. But being at the creek crossing, water isn’t a problem. Water filter is a necessity for camping in this little wilderness. Finding a good tree to hang food here was impossible. We did the best we could, but if something wanted the food, they were going to get it. It was hung pretty low. We had no scavenger activity. I think the likelihood of bears here is very small, but we always hang because it’s a good habit. The hike in to Cable Crossing from the parking lot is pretty easy. A little harder than the Upland trail to the point, but still pretty easy. It’s Just past the intersection of the main trail with the Trail up to the point where this area starts to get strenuous. At this point, I have only been as far In as Big Laurel Falls (I really love Big Laurel). The hike from Cable Crossing to Big Laurel is no joke. I’d call it moderately difficult. But I’ve heard it gets even harder past there. I’m going to day hike the rest of it soon. I’ve just had so much fun exploring the first 2.5 miles of this place, learning all I can about the first half of it. 

**Just on the other side of the cable crossing is an “unofficial” campsite. It’s not a designated site, but it gets a lot of use and I’ve seen Forestry employees interacting with folks camping there and it seemed fine/acceptable.

Quiet and Peaceful

Nice little park with some neat things to see and do. Staff was friendly and helpful. The campground was well kept. Be mindful Of the notice on the website about entering the park via Hwy 52. That’s a legit warning. Thankfully we were aware of that because our GPS tried to take us that way. As mentioned before, it is a small park. Although our campsite was listed as 42 foot in length our TT is 32 feet), my very experienced in driving a trailer husband had to take several attempts to back in due to trees closely lining the road and drop offs on the side of the road. The park employee explained to us that he has mentioned the issue to his supervisor but he is not allowed to remove the trees that block path for backing up. He says most people just “drive over the timbers” where the drive way is. We are rule followers and my husband is meticulous as well, so he’d never do that! The site was very unlevel as well. It was list to have a “slight” grade and I’d beg to differ on that. We were backed up to overhang the site and maxed out our tongue jack and was barely able to get level. All in all, it was a great park and trip, but it’s definitely not made for bigger travel trailers or RVs, and even though it lists it will fit, it might be nearly impossible to make that happen in some situations.

Great State Park close to our house

There are several nice playgrounds, ranger led activities, a nature center that my kids loved, a butterfly garden, several short hikes that are good for kids. There are several sinkholes and cedar glades. There are also some caves you can explore if you want to get muddy. We often go here for day visits, but the overnight amenities are also nice. They no longer have horse stables.

Excellent week

We stayed here as a home base for visiting family in June.

There is little to no cell service in the park. You’re about 10-15 minutes from the grocery store.

The site (7) was spacious (we had a teardrop, shower/changing tent, ground tent, and rooftop tent). Did not have any issues with electric the whole time we were there.

Bathrooms were cleaned and stocked regularly. Staff was super friendly. We rented kayaks to take out on the lake. The rental price was reasonable and the lake was spectacular. There is even a kayak launch under the dock. The playground was great. The creek under the dam was awesome for wading, just look out for snakes.

We didn’t get to hike as we were doing other things but the neighbors told us the trails were well maintained with gorgeous views. The park is huge and would take awhile to fully explore.

The south entrance is a single lane bridge with a sharp turn so longer rigs need to come in on the north end.

Best Kept Secret

Smooth Rapids is one of my best “back pocket” campgrounds to date. This is the best place you’ve never heard of. I booked a spot for July 4th, with no problem, along with a group of 12 friends. In fact, there were several open spots. My friends chose a group stop right on the river, but secluded from the other spots. There’s no shortage of great spots. I took my camper, mainly for the restroom, since there’s just a porta potty at the campground.Mickey runs the place, and he takes care of literally everything. Anything you need, he’s got you. Smooth Rapids is a kayak and tubing outfitter, so you can take a float down the river, and they have a shuttle that will drop you off. We took a river tube and a paddle and it was awesome. They have a restaurant and bar too, and the food was good. They have a selection of beers including the local favorite, Calf Killer. This place is right on the river, but also in town, so it’s easy to get to, and convenient to grab food or anything else. They also have campers set up for rent, so if you don’t want to fully be roughing it, they have you covered.