Asher K.

The Dyrt Pro

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.

Visited the falls

Although we didn't have the opportunity to stay here on this visit we drove by on our way to the falls and I was very impressed. The campground was very well organized and looked incredibly taken care of. It had nice sites and was very close to the falls. We saw many groups walking to the trailhead from the campground. The falls themselves were pretty incredible and there is some great hiking in the area. Make sure to do the whole loop so that you can appreciate the rock formations and cliffs. We did this hike in the afternoon and got a nice dip in at the falls since it was such a hot day. There were lots of people there enjoying the space and everyone was incredibly friendly. I will definitely be checking out this campground on my next visit to the area.

Great state park

This is one of our favorite state parks in Alabama to camp at and is amazing when you visit in the spring and see all the wildflowers. There are also so many great places to swim when it gets hot including DeSoto Falls and the stream that runs through the park.

Relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere

Over Labor Day weekend, we had the pleasure of staying at Fireside Camp+ Lodge, which served as our ideal base camp for exploring the countless waterfalls and trails in the area. This unique campground caters primarily to rock climbers, thanks to its prime location just across the road from Foster Falls, a renowned climbing destination. However, it's equally appealing for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. The campsites are set up in a circle around the edge of a spacious field along the tree line. While they are relatively basic, they offer everything you need for a comfortable stay. We particularly enjoyed the open field, which allowed us to stargaze at night under the clear skies. Each site is equipped with a picnic table and plenty of space to accommodate one or two tents. 

One standout feature is the creative use of an old barn, which has been transformed into a hangout space. Inside, you'll find comfortable couches, hang boards for climbing enthusiasts, a vintage fridge, and even a Pac-Man game for some retro fun. During our visit, they were in the process of building a new bathroom facility. At the time, they had a port-a-potty in place, which was surprisingly well-maintained and exceeded our expectations. We hope that in the future, they expand their bathroom facility options to enhance the overall camping experience. 

Throughout our three-night stay, we found fellow campers to be considerate and friendly neighbors. Many of them were rock climbers here to conquer the area's renowned routes, and we had enjoyable conversations about their adventures. On both our first and last nights, we practically had the place to ourselves. It appeared that most visitors came from afar and couldn't extend their stay. The campground is well-maintained and has a relaxed, low-key atmosphere that we truly appreciated. The camp hosts were incredibly responsive and accommodating when we were planning our trip, making the booking process seamless. We would unquestionably choose to stay here again on our next visit to the area. 

Fireside Camp+ Lodge offers a fantastic base camp for explorers, whether you're a rock climber or a hiker. With its unique barn hangout space, open field for stargazing, and proximity to Foster Falls, it provides a memorable and enjoyable camping experience. We look forward to returning on our future adventures in the area.

Easy introductory backpacking

Alum Gap campground, situated in the backcountry of Tennessee, is not only a hidden gem but also a perfect choice for those new to backpacking. Accessible via a straightforward hike of just a little over one mile from the Greeter Falls parking area, this primitive camping site offers an inviting introduction to the world of wilderness adventures. Each campsite provides a generously sized designated area, offering ample space for multiple tents and featuring an established fire ring. However, be prepared for a rustic experience, as there are no bathroom facilities or other man-made structures in sight. 

During my visit over Labor Day weekend, I found the campground to be remarkably uncrowded, indicating that it is less frequented by campers. Most of the campsites are surrounded by trees and offer a serene woodland setting. However, a mere half-mile down the trail, the landscape opens up to reveal a breathtaking viewpoint that offers a stunning look out at the canyon. On my hike there, I encountered a small creek, which served as a sufficient water source. Depending on recent rainfall, you might need to collect water back at the Greeter Falls area. One noteworthy aspect is that there aren't any clear distinctions between the different available sites; they all offer a satisfying camping experience. 

Exploring the waterfalls in the area is an absolute must. These natural wonders, especially on a scorching hot day, offer the perfect opportunity to cool off with a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear pools at their base. Furthermore, you'll be pleased to know that cell phone service is excellent, thanks to the location atop the plateau. To ensure a smooth camping experience, make sure to reserve a site in advance. 

In summary, Alum Gap campground provides a remote and tranquil wilderness camping experience in Tennessee, with an easy access trail that makes it an ideal introductory backpacking option. While amenities are minimal, the campground's seclusion, beautiful surroundings, and nearby attractions, including scenic viewpoints and waterfalls, make it a remarkable destination for nature enthusiasts. Don't forget to plan ahead and secure your reservation for an unforgettable backcountry adventure.

First to Review
Primitive sites with easy parking access

Conveniently located near the parking area for the Savage Fall hike, the Savage Gulf Ranger Station Campground offers a primitive and tranquil camping option amidst the natural beauty of the area. This camping destination features multiple campsites that can be reserved in advance through the Tennessee State Park website. Each campsite boasts ample space and is surrounded by lush woods, ensuring privacy and separation from other groups. 

The campground provides essential amenities, including a single pit toilet and a pump offering potable water. For those with electric vehicles, a noteworthy perk is the presence of Rivian car charging stations in the parking lot, providing a sustainable way to recharge while enjoying the wilderness. During daylight hours, you'll find more comfortable restroom facilities at the ranger station, enhancing your camping experience. 

It's essential to plan ahead and make a reservation before your visit, as this campground tends to be in high demand. With numerous breathtaking trails in the area, you'll have plenty of opportunities to explore the natural wonders that surround you. The nearby waterfalls, in particular, offer a refreshing escape from the heat during the hotter months, making it an ideal spot for swimming and cooling off. 

When we visited in late summer, the opportunity to escape the heat and the serene ambiance of the campground added to the overall appeal of this exceptional camping destination. Be prepared to carry your gear to your site, as parking is a short walk away, especially if you choose a site near the back of the loop. However, there's no need to bring backpacking gear, making it accessible to a wide range of campers. Check out the photos included in my review for a better idea of each site and start planning your adventure in this picturesque wilderness.

Cabins are nice but expensive

Located in Northwest Alabama, not far from the Sipsey Wilderness, Dismals Canyon offers an unparalleled camping experience that stands out in the state. While it may lean toward the higher end in terms of cost, the memories you create during a special weekend getaway here are absolutely worth it. During our most recent visit, we chose to stay in one of the cozy cabins, but the campgrounds also present an excellent lodging option. These cabins feature a generously sized kitchen, a warm and inviting living room complete with a fireplace, and two comfortable bedrooms. Outside, there are ample spaces perfect for relaxation and al fresco dining. The campgrounds are situated just across the street from the rest of the park and require a short stroll to reach. They offer a variety of camping choices, each with its unique appeal. For more detailed information about these options, you can refer to their website. A standout experience during our stay was embarking on the night hike the first evening we arrived. This adventure allowed us to explore the canyon in the darkness before immersing ourselves in its beauty during daylight hours. We were fortunate enough to enjoy a private tour on a Friday night and were treated to a mesmerizing display of glow worms, which call this canyon home. While the trails within Dismals Canyon may not be particularly lengthy, you'll find yourself utterly captivated by the allure of the surroundings. Be sure to allocate a full day to fully explore and lose yourself in the canyon's enchantment. In summary, Dismals Canyon delivers a camping experience like no other in Northwest Alabama, close to the Sipsey Wilderness. Whether you opt for the cozy cabins or the campgrounds, you'll be treated to a remarkable getaway. Don't pass up the opportunity to embark on a night hike to witness the canyon's beauty illuminated by the glow worms. With its captivating charm, Dismals Canyon guarantees cherished memories.


Our visit to Tricorner Knob Shelter marked the third night of our backpacking trip. As we arrived at this Appalachian Trail(AT) shelter, it became evident that it was bustling with AT thru-hikers who were embarking on their journey northward. Unfortunately, the shelter and its surrounding camping areas were not able to accommodate the influx of hikers. Space was at a premium, and it felt exceptionally crowded. The terrain posed an additional challenge, as the site was highly sloped. Finding a suitable spot to set up a tent without the constant risk of sliding proved to be a significant challenge. 

While the shelter itself was inviting and well-maintained, it filled up rapidly, even though we had arrived fairly early, around 2 p.m. Those who arrived later faced a struggle to secure a comfortable spot. Some unfortunate campers were left with no choice but to set up their tents near the pit toilet, a less-than-ideal arrangement. 

Speaking of the toilet, it was clear that the facility was not designed to handle the high volume of traffic it receives. It was brimming with waste due to the site's popularity and suffered from inadequate maintenance. To safeguard against bear encounters, bear cables were available and necessary to hang all food overnight. Additionally, there is a water source available at the site. 

Despite the crowded conditions, it was nice to interact with fellow hikers, and most people were friendly and accommodating. However, the noise from so many people made it challenging to sleep in. To ensure we got to our next site early enough to secure a good space, we decided to rise early the next morning. 

Overall, Tricorner Knob Shelter can be a challenging stop for hikers, especially during peak thru-hiker season. While the shelter itself is pleasant, the limited space, sloped terrain, and crowded conditions can make for a less-than-ideal experience. Despite these challenges, it's still a good experience to stay here, and its location at the intersection of multiple trails makes it an ideal stop for hikers. Campers should be prepared for the possibility of overcrowding and limited camping options, and be sure to adhere to the bear safety measures in place.

WOW! Breathtaking.

Our 4-day backpacking journey through the heart of the Smoky Mountains began with a memorable night's stay at Mount Sterling. This campsite, situated at the peak, provided much-needed rest after a day of uphill hiking, along with awe-inspiring views. As with all sites in the Smokies, advance reservations are essential. Mount Sterling is designed for tents and hammocks and doesn't offer a sheltered option. However, it boasts multiple large and well-spaced sites, mostly flat for a comfortable night's sleep. Sitting atop the summit, this campsite offers unparalleled vistas that are nothing short of breathtaking. But the elevation also means colder and windier conditions, so warm gear is a must, especially during the evenings. 

One highlight of our stay was the old firetower at the site. While the climb can be daunting for those with a fear of heights, the payoff at sunrise and sunset is truly worth it, with views stretching for miles in all directions. 

Water is available, but remember to bring your purification equipment, as the water source is about a 10-minute hike from the campsite. The presence of bear cables ensures that your food remains secure. Arriving early paid off for us, as we secured a large area near the firetower. However, most sites come equipped with fire pits and clear areas, providing plenty of options throughout the campsite. 

In conclusion, Mount Sterling in the Smoky Mountains is a must-visit for adventurers seeking a mountaintop retreat with breathtaking views. Though it may get chilly and windy, the experience of witnessing sunrise and sunset from the firetower is truly unforgettable. Be sure to plan ahead, pack warm clothing, and enjoy the serene beauty that this summit campsite has to offer.

Incredible and serene space

Nestled within the stunning Smoky Mountains, this tranquil shelter emerged as one of the highlights of our multi-day backpacking adventure. Situated just a short .2-mile detour from the main loop trail, it provided us with a serene respite after a day of hiking. Our journey that morning began at Mount Sterling, and we arrived at this idyllic spot early in the early afternoon, allowing us ample time to set up camp and truly savor the experience. A short side hike along the Balsam Mountain Trail beckoned, even though it didn't offer any dramatic vistas or overlooks. Instead, we descended into a lush landscape, replete with a vibrant display of spring wildflowers that turned the hike into a botanical wonderland. The serenity of this natural beauty made it a worthwhile endeavor. 

The campground itself has multiple fire rings and great spots for tents that are all spread out. There is also a pipe set up that directs creek water for purification. The shelter has 2 levels for sleeping in and plenty of counter and bench space around the outside for prepping food and hanging out with fellow hikers. There is no toilet building but a designated area for using the bathroom to keep it far from other campers. Finally, there is the usual bear hang to put your food after you are done cooking. 

One unforgettable morning, we were greeted by a friendly deer that sauntered by, offering us a charming "good morning" as it grazed peacefully on the surrounding grasses. Perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of this shelter was its relative obscurity, which allowed us to revel in the solitude and tranquility of this natural oasis.

Hillside AT shelter

Perched on the mountainside in the northern region of the Smoky Mountains National Park, this Appalachian Trail(AT) shelter offers a breathtaking haven for weary hikers. With two interior levels for those traveling without a tent or hammock and a convenient bar-style counter near the entrance for meal preparation and dining, it's a true gem in the wilderness. 

This shelter not only caters to Appalachian Trail thru-hikers but also welcomes those doing shorter loops in the area. Ample flat areas provide an ideal setting for tents, while a generous canopy of trees offers the perfect hanging spots for hammocks. The thoughtful layout ensures that each campsite is sufficiently spaced from its neighbors, granting you the gift of some privacy and tranquility.

 In line with the park's commitment to wildlife safety, this site is equipped with cables for hanging all food, effectively deterring bears and other curious animals. These precautions ensure that your camping experience remains both secure and enjoyable. While the shelter's amenities are generally well-maintained, it's worth noting the presence of a pit composting toilet. However, during the warmer months, it may become less appealing as it tends to attract bugs and requires periodic maintenance. Despite this minor inconvenience, the overall experience is still a remarkable one. 

Our visit to this site in the springtime revealed its true allure. The surrounding landscape burst to life with a stunning array of wildflowers in full bloom, creating a picturesque backdrop that enhanced our stay. The seasonal beauty here is nothing short of breathtaking.

Small Ridge Campsite

Perched along the ridge of the Pinhoti Trail, just south of Adam's Gap, this backcountry campsite promises a rewarding wilderness experience. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the most of your stay. First and foremost, be sure to bring an ample supply of water for this section of the trail, as there are no reliable water sources nearby for refilling. The effort is well worth it, though, as the views from this campsite are simply breathtaking, especially during certain times of the year. The most stunning vistas await you right after completing the climb up from Clairmont Gap. These panoramas make the somewhat challenging trek worthwhile, offering a sense of awe and tranquility. 

The campsite itself, while relatively small, provides enough space for 1-2 tents and boasts an abundance of trees for those who prefer hammocks. An established fire pit is also available, providing warmth and comfort on colder nights. It's worth noting that this section of the trail is less frequented by hikers, which means fewer campsite options. To avoid getting caught hiking in the dark, it's essential to plan your stops in advance. During our recent visit, we encountered an overgrown trail filled with brambles, which slowed our progress. Keep this in mind as you prepare for your journey. 

In summary, this backcountry campsite along the Pinhoti Trail offers a chance to immerse yourself in the wilderness and enjoy stunning ridge-top views. Remember to pack enough water, plan your stops in advance, and be prepared for some overgrown sections along the trail. Despite the challenges, the natural beauty and tranquility of this location make it a worthwhile destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Improved since last visit

This site has been cleaned up and expanded since I last stayed here. The space is in a really beautiful area near the parking area for Lake Chinnabee and a few minutes down the trail from Devil's Den Falls. It has an established fire pit and several clear flat areas for tents. The creek runs right alongside so there is easy access to water and it provides a peaceful background sound during the night. Another nice feature of this campground is that it sits at the intersection of multiple trails.

Relaxing car camping in the smokies

Big Creek Campground, situated at the northernmost tip of the Smoky Mountains, offers a tranquil camping experience by a beautiful creek. Located at the base of the Baxter Creek Trail, which leads to Mount Sterling, this drive-in campground provides a picturesque backdrop for nature enthusiasts. The campground boasts clearly marked sites for each reservation, ensuring you'll find your designated spot easily. There's a bathroom structure with running water, and two of the restrooms are wheelchair accessible, enhancing accessibility for all visitors. 

One thing to note is that reservations are essential, and this caught us off guard as we hadn't realized it needed to be done in advance. Unfortunately, finding a campground host or staff member can be a challenge, and the lack of internet connectivity near the campground makes it difficult to seek assistance for reservations. During our springtime visit, the flora along the creek was in full bloom, creating a stunning natural landscape. The temperature was perfect for outdoor activities, and the creek provided a soothing background soundtrack to our stay. Picnic tables were scattered throughout the campground and near the trailhead parking, offering a perfect spot to enjoy meals amidst nature's beauty. 

Big Creek Campground offers a plethora of hiking options, catering to various skill levels. For those seeking a challenge, the climb up to the firetower at Mount Sterling is a must-try adventure. However, be prepared to start early, as it's a full-day endeavor to ascend and descend before dark. Alternatively, you can opt for lower-elevation hikes along the creek, providing a more leisurely experience. Our visit was part of a loop, taking us from Mount Sterling to Tricorner Knob, then back via Cosby Knob and Mount Cammerer.

In summary, Big Creek Campground offers a serene camping experience by a beautiful creek, located at the northernmost tip of the Smoky Mountains. The amenities, including cold running water and well-maintained restrooms, enhance the overall stay. Just remember to make reservations in advance, and if you're up for a challenge, don't miss the climb to the Mount Sterling firetower. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a nature lover seeking a peaceful escape, this campground has something to offer everyone.

Amazing camping and great trails

Updated photos from my most recent visit to this beautiful backcountry campsite. I took a different route hiking back this time that made it a loop and I would highly recommend it. Just head to the right when you get to the bottom of the bald where the trail splits and follow it around the mountain staying left at each fork. It joins the forestry road at one point.

Camping along the river

This is the perfect place for camping if you are adventuring out on the Lehigh River and want to get an early start or stay the night. The sites are each tent only and located right along the river with a picnic bench and firepit. They also have a bathroom facility up alongside the road. The park itself is located along the D&L biking trail that is on the bed of an old railroad. Just make sure if you are going to stay here that you reserve a site in advance since they will charge you an additional$10 if you show up without planning. Overall it is well-maintained and provides convenient access to the river in a beautiful place.

Quiet creekside tent camping

Cute campground with RV and creekside tent sites near Lehigh Gap. The staff here was incredibly friendly and helpful and they have a well cared for site. My favorite spots are the tent-only sites along the creek. They are peaceful and separate from the RV area. The only downside is they do not have potable water in that area and the bathroom is a portapotty. However, you can head up the hill to the main part of the campground and use the bathrooms they have available there. If you want a really private area head up to their hilltop sites which are tent-only and have lots of space with a decent view. If you are staying here I definitely recommend heading down the road a short way and hiking on the AT from the Lehigh nature center.

Pine forest group site

A bed of pine needles creates a padded comfortable area that is perfect for a large group backpacking in the area. This site sits a little ways back from the trail but is a nice quiet and secluded spot. There is a large established fire pit and many large flat areas that are perfect for tents. The pine trees also provide a nice cover to make this a well-protected site in case of bad weather. Although it doesn't have the views of the other parts of the trail it makes up for it in coziness. Just make sure to mark this on your map before you leave since it can be a tougher site to find especially in the summer when everything is so lush and green.

Best site in the area!

By far the best campsite option on this section of the AT! You can set up your tent to have a view of the valley right from your door and the space is flat, dry, and not too rocky. Previous campers have also been kind enough to build up a sizable stone fire ring and construct a stone chair for enjoying the fire and view. When I was up here I came across a flock of wild turkeys who thoroughly scared me when they flew off. I was already on edge since there are several signs warning of high bear activity. In the end, no harm was done and I got to enjoy this special spot all to myself. Just be prepared to bring in your water since there is nowhere to fill up while up on the ridge.

Peaceful ridgeline primitive sites

This site is really 2 separate sites that are a short ways apart along the trail. They are both excellent spots to set up a tent if you plan on camping up on the ridge. Each has a stone fire ring and plenty of room for multiple tents. They are surrounded by a magical field of ferns and you can get views of both sides of the ridge with only a short walk down the trail. The first site you come to has a bushcraft build structure that you could throw a tarp over for a quick shelter. Sitting up on the mountain in this area is a very peaceful experience as you can hear the wind blowing through the trees while watching the ferns sway back and forth. Overall if it works with your distance goal I highly suggest taking a night and camping up on this ridge.

Tent option near AT shelter

This is a small grassy primitive camping site that is shortly before you get to the AT shelter if you are headed north. It would work well if you are tent camping on the AT but want to be near the shelter. Otherwise, it appears to be less used than some of the other sites since the grass has grown more and the fire ring is less developed.