the dyrt
Asher K.
Birmingham, AL
Joined June 2016
I am an MD/PhD student living in the south who loves camping and my goal is to explore as much of the Alabama wilderness as I can while training here.
Ranger Review: AfterShokz Trekz Air at Fremont Saddle Campground

Campground Review: Ill start off by mentioning that this is a backcountry site in the desert and will require some serious hiking to get to. Plan ahead before camping here since you will need to bring in all your water and temperatures fluctuate widely depending on the time of year. Ok now on to why I loved this site!

The Fremont Saddle is located about 2.5 miles in on the Peralta trail and follows a pretty moderate to challenging climb up the mountain. Right at the campground you can see an incredible view of several of the nearby peaks and explore further onto several other branching trails. The campground itself is not well defined since this is a dispersed site though there is a single campfire ring that someone built right off the trail. (I believe fires are discouraged here however) The park rule for camping is that you can set up your tent anywhere that is off the trail (there is a distance specified at the trailhead). Check out my photos of the trailhead signs for more info.

There aren’t any water sources available so make sure to pack in whatever you will need and consider that it can get very dry during the day so you will be drinking a lot. Give yourself enough time at the campground so that you can set up and explore the area since it is incredibly beautiful. One of my favorite things about this site is that you can get 360 views at different points so you could have an amazing sunrise and sunset.

Overall, this is by far the best site I came across while hiking the Peralta Trail and is well worth the challenging trek to get here. Just remember to be prepared and give yourself plenty of time.

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Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to try out new and interesting products at campgrounds I visit. On this trip, I tried out the AfterShokz Trekz Air bone conduction headphones. My takeaways from using the open ear headphones are:

  1. Hear the world: One of the things that really got me excited about these headphones right off the bat was the ability to her what is going on around you while listening to your music. My wife and I are constantly out doing physical activity including runnings biking, hiking, climbing, and kayaking. For many of these activities hearing your surroundings can be a vital factor and can limit the ability to listen to music. These headphones are game changers and perform incredibly in this role. It often sounds like your music is playing on a speaker while wearing them and it was a shock the first time I tried them out. While wearing the Trekz Airs I was able to have a conversation with my brother hiking next to me and could easily tell when another hiker wanted to pass.
  2. Comfort: since these heaphones sit on the bones in front of your ear canal you would expect them to put pressure on your head and be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. However, I found than to be even less noticable on my head than my in ear headphones which bother me after an hour or so. They have nice pads which allow them to rest comfortably and the design is amazing how they lightly rest on your ears without squeezing your head.
  3. Sound quality: A major concern with using bone conduction is that the quality, depth, and volume will be unacceptable. I tested this out on the Airs by playing a variety of different music styles in different environments and while completing different activities. Overall, I was able to achieve rich, quality sound consistently. The one challenge I found was in noisy environments where I wasn't moving and getting the volume up meant feeling the vibrations. However, this is not what they were engineered far and when the volume is up while running I am unable to feel the vibration. Also, they stay in place when you move around so the sound stays consistent throughout your listening.

Overall, I would say these headphones are well worth the value and an amazing addition not only to your camping gear but also perfect for any other high intensity activities. They have a long lasting charge, great sound, and are comfortable to wear for hours on end. I liked the headphones after trying them out that I ended up buying a second pair for my wife. I can’t recommend these headphones enough.

Group Backpacking Site

This is a backcountry site right along the trail that you pass a minute or two before you get to the Blue Mountain Shelter. I have linked to that review and I highly suggest checking it out first since it covers some of the directions for hiking into this area. This specific site is more suited for groups however since it has multiple flat areas for lots of tents and several fire pits if you want to spread out. You can set up camp here and hike further on to get to some of the nearby viewpoints which are well worth the trek. This site isn’t that special but practical if you need the space and want to have a nice jumping off point to see some of the other sites in the area.

Keep hiking

Update for my most recent visit: I would first go check out my video review of this site below since it will help you get an idea of what is available and help you understand how the space is set up. I also have several videos attached that show some of the more confusing trail components so you don’t get lost. This is the closest campground to the trailhead and my least favorite of the options in the park. I would really only stay here if you are in a pinch and need a last minute flat site to pitch a tent.

Another backcountry site

I would first go check out my video review of this site below since it will help you get an idea of what is available and help you understand how the space is set up. I also have several videos attached that show some of the more confusing trail components so you don’t get lost. This is a backpacking site that is right alongside the trail and pretty easy to find. It has a little more space than the first one you pass so would be a better option if you are in a group of more than 2. However, since it is right along the trail you wont have the same privacy. There is a small (read very small seasonal) stream a short ways further down the trail but don’t count on this so fill up whenever you pass a stream earlier or go further along where you will pass additional fill up sites. Check out my other reviews of Cheaha for more info on backpacking here.

Backpacking site

I would first go check out my video review of this site below since it will help you get an idea of what is available and help you understand how the space is set up. I also have several videos attached that show some of the more confusing trail components so you don’t get lost. This is a nice site slightly off of the main trail that is well organized for a single backpacker or a very small group. Previous hikers have built up a firepit and also a wooden “bench” type thing that works best for organizing your gear on. This site is easily missed when going along the trail since it requires taking a small path to get to that is overgrown in the summertime. However it is a wonderful option only a couple miles into the trail so I would check it out if you are on your own. There is not easily available water near the site so fill up whenever you pass a stream earlier or go further along where you will pass additional fill up sites. Check out my other reviews of Cheaha for more info on backpacking here.

RV site in a fun area

First off this is really just a campground for RVs and you wouldn’t want to drive in and stay in a tent here. However, for that purpose it is a nice site and located in a great area. Right along the Cullasaja rive you have easy access to swimming and boating or you can drive a mile or two up the road and get to some amazing swimming holes with cliff jumping and natural water slides. The area is really beautiful year round though best in the summer when you can cool off from the hot days by getting in the water. The campground itself has many of the amenities you would want while RV camping such as full hook up and picnic benches for hanging out at. They also promote a family friendly environment that seemed to be very welcoming. Overall, their location right along the river and only a few minutes downstream of the amazing swimming makes this a place well worth checking out.

Recent visit update

Update: Im adding some new photos from a recent visit up to the campground. Since last time I was there the area experienced some pretty terrible fires and some of the trees surrounding the bald have burned down. Just reminds you to be careful with fires in these types of wilderness areas where things can spread quickly. Otherwise site is still an amazing place to stay and the views are just as incredible!

Great hiking and camping near Atlanta

We visited this park a few weeks ago with friends and had an amazing time! The park is set up on the land of an old factory that used the river to power a water wheel. There are a whole bunch of trails of varying difficulty and length that meander through the woods along the river. Along with the campgrounds there are also picnic benches and large group areas where you can host a lunch or dinner. We took the trail that shows you where they built the mill then goes along the river for a while. It was a beautiful hike but definitely challenging since there are a lot of rocks you have to climb over. The campgrounds are nice and across the road from the park through you can also take other trails from there that go down and around the reservoir. The amenities are nice and the whole park is well taken care of. I would highly suggest staying the night since it is such a short trek from the Atlanta area.

RV Only site

Make sure to check out my video review below where I show you around some of the campground. This is much more of a mobile home or RV park than a campground since most of the people staying here are set up for long term residency rather than for a night or two. Additionally, it is right near downtown Atlanta so not exactly where I would want to spend the night if it wasn’t more of a home situation. If this is your purpose I would first check out the Atlanta West Campground down the street since it was significantly nicer in my opinion. This location seems mostly like a large parking lot where you can park and set up your site but there is not really any privacy or separation between different RVs. Only a couple miles away is Sweetwater State Park which is well worth a visit and has some wonderful hiking trails.

Great hiking near Atlanta

We visited this park a few weeks ago with friends and had an amazing time! The park is set up on the land of an old factory that used the river to power a water wheel. There are a whole bunch of trails of varying difficulty and length that meander through the woods along the river. Along with the campgrounds there are also picnic benches and large group areas where you can host a lunch or dinner. We took the trail that shows you where they built the mill then goes along the river for a while. It was a beautiful hike but definitely challenging since there are a lot of rocks you have to climb over. The campgrounds are nice and across the road from the park through you can also take other trails from there that go down and around the reservoir. The amenities are nice and the whole park is well taken care of. I would highly suggest staying the night since it is such a short trek from the Atlanta area.

Bike Camping Site

Make sure to check out my video review first since it gives a good view of what is available at the site and a better overview of the different tent setups. I passed through this campground while biking the Silver Comet trail with my wife and some friends and checked it out as a potential overnight option. It is a primitive site with two gravel platforms set up for tents each with its own firepit. The sites are rustic but well cared for and perfect if you are bike packing the trail and need a free place to stay overnight. It is also only a 5 min bike ride in from two different trailheads on either side but only accessible from the trail and not connected to the road. This makes it a nice option since you will have much more privacy than any of the other options in the area. However, this also means you won’t have any of the facilities. There is a small seasonal creek that you could probably get water from in the spring when there is water available but it was totally dry when we were there in the fall. Overall, if you are looking for a “backpacking” like campground along the Silver Comet Trail this is a perfect option.

Close to amazing climbing

I visited this area while on a day off from staffing a sleep away camp in the area. We spent the day doing sport climbing on some of the many amazing rocks in the park and then trekked up to the viewpoint to get a beautiful look at the nearby area. The park is really wonderful and has a whole lot of trails and different areas where you can either set up top rope or lead climbing routes. The campground itself is slightly down the road from where the hiking and climbing is but has amazing amenities and is really well taken care of. The tent sites are large and spaced out though not so private but great if you have a group staying at several different ones. They also have volleyball courts and other fields you can use if you are staying there.

Alongside the trail

After continuing on the trail heading east leaving from Wayah Bald you pass several large open fields which could work for setting up camp and eventually you get to this site which is a little more of an established campsite and is less exposed than the other options. It has a few flat areas that could be used to set up a tent and a small fire pit to keep you warm at night. Like most of the other backpacking sites in the area you wont find any amenities or organized setups but this is really what most people want while doing this kind of trip. There really isn’t any water available near this site so make sure to fill up earlier when you pass some of the smaller seasonal creeks running down the mountain. The trail around her does a lot of winding up and down hills so be prepared for a serious leg workout.

Beautiful site

I stayed at this site while backpacking the Bartram Trail so check out some of my other reviews along the route to get a better idea of how to plan a trip here. In terms of this specific campground it is a primitive backpacking site located along a creek that feeds into Nantahala lake so has easy access to water. When we stayed here we had already been hiking for two full days so I was happy to get the rest and cool my worn out feet off in the river. The area to set up a tent is a little rocky but it works ok if you have a pad and can set up before it gets dark. The views over the lake are well worth it though since you get a beautiful sunset.

Small site near Franklin

If you are planning on doing parts of the Bartram trail starting from Franklin and getting a late start on the trail this is a perfect secondary option for you. Its a little further than the one right near the trailhead and a little smaller but it works as an option if necessary. It is a decently large site and has access to water if you climb down a small hill. On top of that it has a nice little firepit and flat ground for setting up your tent. Make sure to trek up the trail to see the viewpoint from Williams pulpit and if your really feeling like a challenge you can get all the way to Wayah Bald. Just be aware that the trail can get overgrown in the summer time and then covered in leaves through the fall in winter but well worth it for the views.

Nice large RV site near Atlanta

Make sure to check out my video review below where I show you around some of the campground. This is much more of a mobile home or RV park than a campground since most of the people staying here are set up for long term residency rather than for a night or two. Additionally, it is right near downtown Atlanta and alongside a highway so not exactly where I would want to spend the night if it wasn’t more of a home situation. However, for its actual purpose it does a wonderful job and has nice spaces for residents along with a small park and easy access to the nearby areas. Only a couple miles away is Sweetwater State Park which is well worth a visit and has some wonderful hiking trails.

RV Site

This site is a glorified parking lot across the street from the racetrack in Talladega. If you have a choice and others are not full I would suggest continuing down the road a little further to check out the other options. It is mostly just a large field where you can park your RV. They do have amenities such as water, electrical, and sewer which is nice. On non race days these campgrounds also work for a low-cost place to stay over for visiting the nearby Cheaha wilderness area. If you are staying here or in the area I highly suggest checking it out.

Classic RV Campground

This is another of the many RV parking lot/campgrounds right near the racetrack in Talladega. This one was a little nicer than some of the others in the area and seems to be well taken care of. It incorporates a large grassy field to set up your site and some more wooded spots in the back. They also have amenities such as water, electrical, and sewer. On non race days these campgrounds also work for a low-cost place to stay over for visiting the nearby Cheaha wilderness area. If you are staying here or in the area I highly suggest checking it out.

Backpacking near Birmingham

Update for recent visit: Check out my other reviews of Oak Mountain to get an idea of some of the amazing hiking and places to see views. This site is one of four backcountry sites that the park offers. I have been to this one twice now since it is the closest to a parking area so is the most forgiving if you get a late start. The major thing to be aware of is that they do not allow fires at any of these sites so keep that in mind and you will need to either bring in your own water or purify it from one of the small seasonal streams that runs near the site. Overall this is a nice large site and you will definitely have your privacy since they closely regulate who stays at these backcountry locations and only a single group is allowed at each at a time. It is a wonderful place to get away for a night and see the stars.

Great camping near Birmingham

Update for most recent visit: This is by far the best place to camp near Birmingham and has many different options. I was just there this past weekend and it was so beautiful to see all the fall colors starting to show. My wife and I hiked up to the King’s Chair lookout on this visit and it was such an amazing sight. I would definitely recommend this time of year to visit the park. Make sure to check out my videos that show off some of the great features of the trails. The campground here has several different types of sites including walk in (tent only), RV, and even horse camping. Just make sure to check in advance if they have space since it can fill up in the busy season.