I hiked out to the Caney Fork River Campsite with the Nashville Backpacking Meetup. The trails were really clearly marked, so they were easy to follow despite all of the leaves on the ground, and there were plenty of signs indicating where to go. The site is less than half a mile away from the falls, and has really easy access to the river for water. There wasn't any trash laying around that we could see, and we found plenty of firewood.
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.
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.
The Virgin Falls area is located in the Bridgestone-Firestone Centennial Wildlife Management Area, and is huge with several awesome camping spots. The WMA is a public camping area, so don’t go during hunting season unless you are hunting. We visited during spring turkey season, and the covid 19 shutdown, so we were nearly alone in this vast area, however we couldn’t actually go to the falls, as they were closed alone with all hiking and such. Literally only activity allowed was hunting.
The signage was better in this area then a lot of WMA’s I’ve visited, and you can tell where the camping areas are. Lots of level spots here, and most connect to hiking trails. There’s an endless supply of firewood too, so no need to bring any. There was a little store, but was closed so I have no idea what’s available there. I look forward to camping here again when the state opens up!
8 miles is pretty accurate of a round trip. It's a lot downhill until you get to the falls then you gotta hike all the way back out. There are several spots along the way to camp if you want including a creekside, bluff view, and directly next to the falls. Pack a water filter and pack in/out everything
Campgrounds are very primitive. No restrooms or running water. Everything will have to be packed in. Amazing views! Mutiple waterfalls and caves to explore. Highly recommend checking it out. Hike is around 8 miles round trip. Water filters would be a must in my book.