There is a backcountry campground not 1/2-mile from the 12-Mile Beach car/RV campground. "Backcountry" is deceptive, as there is a road/parking area about 1/4 mile west of the site.
You'd expect a site close to cars/roads to be clean as it's easy for people to pack trash out to a car, but there was a fair amount of garbage left in fire rings at this campground (we burned what we could and packed the rest out). The plus side was that someone had left a handful of split logs behind, negating the need to gather anything beyond kindling.
Proximity to the drive-in sites provided ready access to potable, running water and flush toilets, although there is a pit toilet at this campground.
Lake Superior is readily accessible from both these sites and the drive-in campground.
Even though we reserved all sites ahead of time, we rolled into this campground after a grueling day to find our reserved site taken by someone else's belongings (no humans in site). Luckily, another group offered to share their site with us. A small stream behind this site provided access to water for filtering.
Pit toilets were full of garbage from day-hikers and beach-goers--not animal safe in any way.
Access to beach is provided by wooden ladder-like steps down the bluffs.
This location really is beautiful, but it far too over-crowded to make it an ideal back-country site for backpackers seeking relative solitude.
Stayed here while hiking the lakeshore trail from west to east. Everyone says Chapel Rock/Beach is the best campground, but I beg to differ. This site is far cleaner and less crowded with better access to Lake Superior beachfront. Sites are well separated and plenty treed. Beaver Pond is scenic and a quick jaunt to the south. Breezes off the lake kept the bugs down.
Stayed here for a long weekend in October 2016. Campground was clean, on-site host was available for firewood purchases, facilities were clean. Campground was full, but did not feel crowded. Hiking trails accessible by foot from the campground.
NOTE: There are LOADS of ticks in this area.
This campground is hike-in or boat-in only, no car access. We camped here for one night on an overnight loop in Wharton State Forest. Wild blueberries abound during summer months!
Individual sites are closely packed, which was not a problem as we were the only ones there. Any more than 2-3 groups of campers and this ground would start to feel claustrophobic. Site boundaries are pretty clearly marked, and each has a fire ring.
Batsto River provides plenty of water for filtering--don't be weirded out by the brown color caused by tannins. River access at higher-numbered sites is marshy, water flow and quantity is more substantial downstream from the lower-numbered sites.
Trash bags are provided, but no trash receptacles, so pack it out! There is a pit toilet, but did not check its status.
We stayed here on a Thursday night in September prior to taking off backpacking. The campground was clean and quiet. RV hook-ups, tent platforms, and rustic tent sites were available. Our rustic tent site had a few good options for pitching a tent, as well as picnic table and fire ring.
Ranger said that during summer weekends the grounds fill up and can be quite noisy, but mid-week during the off-season it was great. Expect to purchase firewood, although scrounging for kindling was possible. Facilities were clean and what you'd expect from a campground.
Would definitely return!!