CS37 is a beautiful campsite, and an easy 5 miles from the parking lot. The best spots (in my opinion) to the east of Big Creek trail are right along/above Big Creek, and the sound of rushing water lulls you to sleep. The camp ground was full, but never felt crowded…there was plenty of room to move around and spread out. Fire ring areas were plenty big, and ample space to hang your packs/food bags on cables. We did have a momma bear and her juvenile cub residing in one of the trees…momma never bothered us, but junior tried his hardest to see what we were having for dinner and breakfast. He was easily shoo-able and didn't cause any trouble. Big Creek is huge source for water filtration.
My first shelter experience, and I really enjoyed it. Most times, the people you are huddled with are what make or break a shelter stay, and I was very lucky to have awesome campmates. The shelter was surprisingly clean. The privy was too, shockingly. Water source was very close to the shelter. We had zero issues with bugs or critters bothering us at night. I was also able to get cell/satellite service outside the shelter and up on the AT.
I've hiked all over the Balsam Mt and Cataloochee area of the GSM, but this was my first front country camping experience. Quaint and quiet, tent pads are flat/level. Each site comes with a picnic table and fire ring with a grate to cook on. The areas are large enough for a canopy to be placed over the table. The tent pads are large enough to accommodate a 1-8+ person tent. One complaint I'd heard from other folks is that their RV's and campers had to be parked right on the road, as apposed to pulling them into an actual spot (no back in or pull through spots). The two restrooms are an easy walk from any spot. No showers. There is a dishwashing station, a nice little shelter with two very large sinks to clean up your dishes. This time of year (end of July/beginning of August), the temps up there never get above 70 or 75, and the lows were in the low 50's. The sites are close together, although I never felt crowded or encroached upon. There are little worn paths between site, so you can easily visit your neighbors if you're camping with friends. The camp hosts were incredibly sweet folks, although at the time I am writing this review, these particular ones will only be there until mid August, and a new host crew will arrive. They were pleasant to chat with, and made sure to come around to warn us that a possible storm was brewing in the Cherokee area and headed our way. Restrooms were super clean!! There is electricity, so be sure to bring a lantern or headlamp. Also, although there is plenty of running water, no soap or towels, only hand sanitizer. So be sure to also bring something to dry hands off with, +/- soap if the sanitizer dispenser is empty. There are many hiking opportunities near by, a few of which are easily accessible with a short, few mile drive down the mountain, and a nature trail is accessible from CS43. An even shorter drive or nice walk up the remaining road will bring you to on of the Flat Creek Trail entrances, which has a few benches to watch the sunset from the overlook. If you venture further onto Heintooga Rd, be warned that it's 14 miles one-way, unimproved, and can be very rutted and hard on low clearance vehicles. A beautiful little drive, just not a smooth one. Your furry family members are also welcome at this campground! They are required to be on a leash or long tie-out at all times for their safety, and the safety of other pets and wild animals. Keep in mind, pets are not allowed on the trails in the GSM, so although they can camp with you, they will not be able to join you on any hikes in the area. I can't wait to stay here again, and I'm so happy that I chose this campground as my first front country experience.
We split up our 15.5 mile trek with an overnight at CS71. Forney Ridge and Forney Creek trails run right through and beside this site…you can't miss it. Beautiful area, and creek sounds to lull you to sleep no matter which spot you pick. Used to be an old CCC camp back in the 30's, and has the remaining chimney still standing on one of the tent sites. Forney Creek provides ample water supply.
I chose this campsite as the location of my first backcountry overnight experience, and I was not disappointed. Loved every minute of it. Short hike from your vehicle on Laurel Gap Rd. West Prong of the Little River runs right through both separated sites, so plenty of water is an understatement. Ground is flat and plenty of room to spread out. IGA grocery store in Townsend is only 20 minutes away, makes for a great place to pick up last minute food ideas before hiking in to your site. This is a favorite spot for us local hikers, I highly recommend it to everyone.