Big Bend is a family-oriented campground along a bend on the South Branch Potomac River in Smoke Hole Canyon. With its convenient position on the river, the campground creates a recreation hub for fishing, tubing, kayaking and swimming.
About 1.3 million people visit the Monongahela National Forest each year. The forest is a drivable distance from metropolises like Washington, D.C., and Pittsburg, yet still offers a remote and scenic camping getaway.
The Big Bend Loop Trail is a one-mile nature trail that circles the campground. The majority of the trail follows along the river bend.
Thirty miles of maintained trails can be found nearby, and mountain biking is permitted on most trails.
Big Bend offers 46 sites; 18 sites are non-reservable. Twelve sites on the river loop have tent pads. All sites have a lantern holder, picnic table and fire ring. Drinking water is available. There are two pit toilets, one shower house, and flush toilet restrooms in each loop. There is also a dump and fill station.
Big Bend Campground is in the northern portion of the Monongahela National Forest, boasting beautiful old growth trees that become vibrant with color in fall.
The river runs north through the Smoke Hole Canyon, which bears a name of uncertain origin. One theory is Native Americans used the caves of the gorge for smoking meat, which created "smoke holes." Another is that misty fog often lies along the river and ascends in what looks like smoke from a hole.
The Highland Scenic Highway provides an unforgettable drive through narrow, steep valleys and rolling, tree-topped mountains. Estimated time to drive on this byway is two to four hours, and highlights include Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, Summit Lake and Falls of Hills Creek.
ADA Access: N
This campground can be a little tricky to find, but this is such a fun campground. There is a total of 46 sites with varying privacy at each. Every site has a picnic table, utility post, fire pit, and only the river loop has tent pads. The campground has flush toilets, hot showers, and water spigots. It’s a first come- first serve style with getting campsites, can reserve through by phone to the campground host. The upper loop is $12 per night and river loop is $14 per night. Pets are allowed.
The South Branch Potomac River winds around the campground, so bring rafts, tubes, or kayaks to float on. There is also a rope swing around the corner you can hike or float to. Fishing is popular there as well.
Dog friendly. Gorgeous flat water. awesome views. Well kept sites.
This campground is known to all the locals, but confusing to find. Print your maps before you go. There is no cell phone service until you either find Upper Tract or Cabins, WV in the other direction. The road is rather bumpy, I like to think that it just weeds the non-serious folks out. There is now a country store that is open at the one intersection. Trust me, you will so happy to see the store, you will dash right in. The store is well stocked. At times during the year, there is bluegrass music. You travel along the South Branch of the Potomac River and then finally get to the campground. The grounds are wonderfully kept. The caretaker, truly loves his job and it shows. After 10pm, its quite time, and he means it. Each loop of the campground has restrooms and there is a new shower house. If you are interested in tubing on the river, May,June & July are the best months. After that the river tends to get low. The campground is framed by mountains and cliffs. It seems that you are inside of a tea cup (but in a good way) Excellent for star gazing. If you are told that the river is rising and you need to get out at a certain day/time, you should be ASAP. From time to time the road has washed out, but the state road guys get to it fairly quick. Glen, the caretaker will advise you.
You have heard the phrase, "you can't get there from here," and it is as close to truth about Big Bend Campground nestled in Smoke Hole Canyon of the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia. It takes some effort and much time to locate and arrive at Big Bend Campground, but with much effort comes much reward. https://www.recreation.gov/camping/big-bend-wv/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=70235
We had just finished a week backcountry trip in nearby Dolly Sods Wilderness and Big Bend was the closest campground that had showers. It took two stops and inquiring of locals to find the way…and we ended up traveling the back mountain road. Note: Cell service in the mountains of WV is nearly nonexistent, so do your searching and print maps before you venture out Of all the states to be lost in, I enjoy it most in West Virginia. Locals are friendly and always willing to help.
Informative road signage was absent coming the back way, so I was relieved to finally come to a "T" in the road and actually see a Big Bend Campground sign that stated I was still four miles from my destination.
The road that leads to the campground is three miles of poorly maintained and pot-holed gravel. I was told neither the state nor the feds want to claim ownership and maintenance of the road. The South Branch Potomac River is visible to the right as you bounce along. You pass Jess Judy Group Campground about midway. With one mile remaining, you hit smooth blacktop that leads into the campground…and nowhere else. As you enter the campground, you will also see the South Branch Potomac River on your left.
As you climb into the campground, you arrive at another "T" intersection. At the stop sign, you look to the right and see a 45 grave family cemetary of the former land owners. Jesse Ketterman and his wife Susan (a Blackfoot Indian) raised and buried their family there since the early 1800's. Turning left toward the lower tent site loop, the host site is immediately on your right. The host, Glenn Cook, is congenial, informative, hardworking and has a great deal of love for this Campground, which is evident not only by the way he talks of it…but also seen in the impeccably clean grounds and spotless facilities.
Tent sites along the lower loop (1-12) are spacious and each has a massive picnic table, fire ring, metal pole for lanterns and elevated tent pad. Most tent pads were 12x12 raised timbers…and a smart 20-30' from the fire ring. Sites 1-7 are closest to the river trail being on the outside of the loop. Blacktop parking pads are about 15' long. Plenty of foliage separates the sites, but voices travel in this river canyon. The Campground River loop trail travels the outside perimeter of the campground and can be reached by a short 20' trail from each of the "riverside" sites. You cannot visibly see the river from these sites, but you can hear it.
The two upper campground loops offer longer parking pads for campers/RV's and more distance between neighboring sites. These also offer a natural visible barrier of foliage. Tent camping can still occur on these upper sites, but there are no designated tent pads. There is no electric hook-ups in the campground and no cell service. I visited nearly every site and can safely say, there are no bad sites in this campground.
Each loop has restroom facilities with flush toilets. There are also two ADA pit latrines, with one being beside a river trail in the lower tent loop. Between the two upper loops there is a shower house/restroom. There are four individual showers on one side and restrooms on the opposite side of the building…all with separate locking exterior doors. I will mention that the showers and restrooms in this campground are absolutely spotless. I thought they were brand new, so I asked. "Well, yes, they are new…they were built just 7 years ago." Cleanest facilities I've seen anywhere…ever. Each loop has two water spigots and trash dumpsters centrally located.
Big Bend Campground is located…well…on a big bend in the river. Shaped like a lollypop, it offers something that is clearly unique. Walking the perimeter trail, you have access to the river the entire loop. The perimeter trail also takes you by the remnants of a fireplace from what was once a Post Office along the river. Cool history…but what is distinct is the river nearly meets on either side of the entrance road. So campers grab their tubes, floats, kayaks, canoes or PFD's and walk to the river…put in…and float around the bend to nearly the same location across the roadway…pull out…walk across the roadway and down a trail and repeat. At this time of August, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to float around the bend. Limitless fun! .
To add to this enjoyment, at about the halfway mark in the bend…you will locate a rope hanging from a tree, river right. No its not a hangman's noose…its a rope swing. An entire day of creative fun can be had flinging oneself out into the river. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=g08xmiwMVqo The river is crystal clear, the bottom can be seen at depths over 8 feet. Fishing is another popular activity at Big Bend. In the spring, countless fishermen stand shoulder to shoulder to bring in cagey trout. Most of the river is catch and release outside the campground. Inside the campground you can keep four a day. Just off site 6 there is a river beach area. The water is swimmable, but the current is strong. Bald eagles soared the thermals above the river cliffs as we played in the river and chased crawdads in the shallows.
Nights were refreshingly cool and black as ink, the days were sunny and hot. Fellow campers were friendly and thoughtful…a Washington DC family that we got to know at the rope swing, made it a point to find our site and gift us their firewood before they left for home.
I camped here midweek and only the tent sites were filled, but was told that its packed on weekends. If tenting, I highly recommend sites 5, 6, or 7. I stayed at both site 5 and 6 during my visit due to heavy reservations. Site 7 is secluded more and appeared to enjoy more privacy.
As a Review Ranger for TheDyrt.com, I am honored to review various outdoor products. At times I am provided the products free or heavily discounted, and such is the case with the Primus New Primetech 1.3L Stove Kit. https://primus.us/products/new-primetech-stove-set-1-3l
I am no stranger to Primus stoves. I own and use the tiny Primus Express Piezo electric backpacking stove, and purchased one for each of my four adult children years ago. These are lightweight, reliable stoves so I was excited to test and evaluate the New Primetech 1.3L Stove kit.
⦁ Great for large meals
⦁ Burns super quiet
⦁ Sips fuel
⦁ Boils 1.3 liters fast
⦁ Ceramic coated pot nearly cleans itself
⦁ Considerably light for its size
⦁ Handheld piezo-electric starter
⦁ Convenient locking pot grabber
⦁ Difficult to see flame when starting
⦁ Seemed fuel cannister finicky
⦁ Large profile for backpacking
Upon opening the box, the New Primetech 1.3L nesting stove and pot kit comes with a wide-based stove with integrated windscreen. The stove base has small non-marking rubber feet to add stability on slick or smooth surfaces. On the bottom of the stove base is also a snap clip to secure the braided stainless steel fuel line and regulator, which assists when nesting inside the including pots. You recieve two 1.3 liter cooking pots. Both pots and stove base are hard anodized and scratch resisitant. One pot has interior ceramic coating and integrated heat exchanger along the exterior bottom. The second pot is simply hard anodized and has no heat exchanger. Also included is a transparent Tritan (similar to lexan) lid, round aluminum ground protector, a piezo electric igniter and a quick release, locking pot gripper and ripstop nylon stuff sack.
The New Primetech 1.3L Stove Kit was relatively light (25.6 oz) for its size and contents.
When first using the stove, I learned that you must open the fuel regulator wire bale entirely to allow fuel to flow for ignition. Then you can adjust the flame once lit. The fuel regulator takes rotations to open entirely, unlike the Primus Express adjustment knob that only takes a crack.
Noise?…there is none. All the fuel stoves I utilize (and I have many) sound like a space shuttle lift off, so the Primus New Primetech 1.3L stove is quiet, so unless I see the blue flame, I can't tell if its on. Now people may accuse me of being hard of hearing, but I can't hear the burner.
These are the primary areas that Primus has managed to make the New Primetech stove sip fuel. At first, this was frustrating but I grew to appreciate its quietness and economy. The stove platform is very stable and doesn't rock when placing the pots atop its serrated support fins. The accompanying pots fit below the top lip of the stove platform so there are no worries about toppling or sliding off when stirring or adding to the pot. There are additional fold-out serrated support fins should you have an even larger pot, which raises the pot above the outside rim of the stove base.
The hard anodized 1.3 liter pot is typical and familiar. I make certain this is the pot I nest the stove base into when packing. The finish is durable, but I can foresee the stove base marring the interior finish over time. It is purely presumption on my part.
The ceramic coated 1.3 liter pot with the integrated heat exchange is nothing short of remarkable! If I could have only one pot, this would be it. The ceramic coating on the inside surface is so slippery, every form of pasta-cheese concoction I cooked in it basically dripped right out. Very little food residue remained. When I had paper towels, one swipe and the pot was clean. Cleaning is really a non-issue with this pot. For backcountry backpacking, this is the pot I would prefer but I fear the nesting stove base would ultimately damage the ceramic coating, thus ruin the non-stick surface. I like to keep things simple, so I've avoided the whole heat exchange craze…but it does work and I now see its value.
The "Tritan" pot lid (think Lexan) is pretty convenient. The red rubber lid handle is simple and with its "push-through" design, replacing a torn one will be easy. The lid, though tinted, is see-through, so no guessing the condition of the pot's contents. Integrated strainer holes allow fast draining of liquids. There is also a nice cutout to permit use of a pot gripper without removing the lid.
The separate piezo electric igniter shaped like a "T," offers firm grip and the push button easily depressed, sending the spark down a small tube to the fuel source. It's small enough to toss in the pack and long enough to keep your hands away from the flame. In a nutshell, its reliable and effective.
The Quick Release locking pot gripper works well, once you determine the amount of pressure to apply when pressing the release button. When in the locked position, it holds securely…and the rubber tips eliminate scratching the pot interior.
The aluminum ground protector would serve some benefit if placing directly on grass, other than that, it remains folded at the bottom of the stuff sack.
Fuel cannister attachment to the fuel regulator is simple and secure.
Field test: I took the Primus New Primetech 1.3L Stove kit with me on a backpacking trip in Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, which always has unpredictable, varyied weather conditions and then an additional 11 days at campgrounds for breakfast and dinner (lunches were cold and on the move). Using the Primus New Primetech 1.3L stove on a daily basis caused you to become familiar with its nuances quickly. It was odd not hearing the typical roar of the stove when cooking, so I constantly got on my hands and knees to see if the stove was still lit. Then I grew accustomed to the silence and preferred it. I was impressed with boil times and how it sips fuel. I used a 220g cannister for an entire week of meals and boiling water for clean up.
Two things I would like to see different:
1. Fewer turns on the fuel regulator bale to introduce and adjust flame. I prefer the short "throw" or twist of other stove fuel regulators I own.
2. Fewer "cut-out windows" in the stove base. I found in high gusting winds, the flame would blow out. So I had to shelter the stove with rocks as a natural wind screen.
Overall, I began to prefer the Primus New Primetech 1.3L Stove kit above my other stoves out of convenience, speed and fuel savings. It's a keeper and if searching for a stove kit, you would be pleased with this selection.
If you can afford it or you are camping with several friends and family get the group site. The group site is HUGE open area right next to river and away from the main camping area. Only thing with the group site is that the only thing they have is portapotty. You need to walk or drive to main campsite for running drinking water.
The individual campsites are nice especially the ones next to river but the sites are close together.
Great place if you have canoe or kayak waters are not to choppy. They have several outfitters that will rent canoes and give you ride back to campsite.
If you are a MT. Biker there is a great trail that follow the ridge line with great views of one of the oldest mountains in the United States!!!
And one of my favorite reasons to camp in these area is SENECA Rocks, Just 15 min up the road. Some of the best Trad/sport climbing with easy approach on the East Coast!