Sarah C.
Gorham, NH
Joined April 2017
I am an avid adventurer who loves spending times in our natural spaces, especially our National Park system! My wife & two pups adventure with me!
First to Review
Avoid if you can simply because of high traffic

Close enough to the AT to entice thru hikers to divert if other options on the trail are full just up the ridge. The Appalachian Mountain Club runs the site and there is often a caretake present at the sight. The shelter can sleep about 12 people and there are several tent platforms including one for a larger group. All of the structures are in decent shape and the privy is generally pretty clean if the caretaker is on top of it. However, don't be surprised to see it in disarray in the off season when no one is up there maintaining it.

There is a kitchen area with a bear box. Be advised that the box is significantly rusted and quite gross when you open it. It's only a matter of time before the entire bottom rusts out. There is a water source a short distance down the trail and it flows decently well unless it's been exceptionally dry. The trailhead runs along Success Pond road which is used heavily by OHVR traffic and can take more than 45 minutes to drive from Berlin, NH to the trailhead. Due to the large storms in October 2017, you cannot drive the road from the Upton, Maine side.

If you're in a pinch and need a spot to stay, then Carlo Col will due but it wouldn't be my first choice.

Beautiful, Secluded Spot

This small little campground (25 sites) is tucked off the main road (Route 16) and dead ends at Little Diamond Pond. There is a small local gravel road that continues about another 1.2 miles to Big Diamond Pond. Its location makes it a great spot to truly get away including zip, zero, zilch cell phone reception!

There are RV compatible sites but there are no hookups and all the camping areas are grass. There is a small "dumping station" within the campground. Other amenities include several water spigots, a very nice and well maintained (cleaned twice a day the entire time we were there) restroom and shower area. There is also a small laundry room with coin operated machines. Also on site is a soda vending machine and an AED. One thing to note is that the welcome center has been moved from the main campground to Coleman Estates. The turn is about .2 miles BEFORE the campground. This is where you check in and pick up your car tag. You can also purchase a few small items (t-shirts, cheap camping gear, a cup of coffee or slice of pizza, fire wood, etc.). Downside to this part of the facility is that there is a MASSIVE tv on when you walk in the door which was quite strange.

We stayed at site 21 which is a nice wooden lean to. We decided to stay in the site for two reasons. First of all, it is one of the closest sites to Little Diamond Pond and you can see the pond from the site. Secondly, it was forecasted to rain over half the time we were there (which it did) and we wanted a little extra protection from the elements. The only drawback to the lean to is that it is one of the only sites with absolutely NO grass in it. So with all the rain it got a bit muddy but the added roof over our heads was totally worth it.

If you enjoy fishing, falling asleep to the sound of loons and owls chatting back and forth then this is the spot for you!

Beautiful in the Fall

Wind your way up the mountains to this sweet state park! There was only one other couple camping when we arrived but I feel like this place wouldn't feel busy even if it was thanks to all the trees! We also felt super safe thanks to the park ranger driving around on patrol, he drove by a few times making sure everything was all set. Much appreciated by two females camping in the off season!

The campsites have nice gravel areas AND flat dirt spots for tents. It was nice to not have to pitch the tent right on top of gravel for a change. Our site was quite large and had a picnic table and a natural rock fire pit that was free of debris and trash. There was plenty of space for the hounds to roam on their long leads. A water spigot was just a short walk away. Restrooms were nice and warm, appreciated thanks to cold fall temps.

The site we stayed in had a little paved bump out for parking. Trash receptacles were directly across from our site as well.

There's a sweet little visitor's center that's worth stopping just before you get to the turn off for the campground. The woman working in there was very friendly and offered a few hiking options. We arrived a little late in the day so we drove a bit further up the mountain to Carver's Gap and then went on a short little hike to Round Bald, right along the AT. As the pictures indicate, it was stunning.

Quiet in the Shoulder Season

In New England it's challenging to find a campground that is open in late November/early December but that's certainly not the case in the south! Sometimes I experience the opposite problem, tons of people everywhere thanks to the warmer weather. However, when we pulled into Gunter Hill this time of year we were surprised to see how empty the place was. There were a few large RVs in the area but only one other tent camper like ourselves.

The sites are nicely spaced out so even if there had been a lot of people there, it wouldn't have felt too crowded. Large old trees with beautiful Spanish moss provide plenty of shade in the sites. The river also runs pretty close to some of the sites as well. Our site had a nice paved pull in as well as a gravel area with a large picnic table and fire ring. In addition there was a stand up grill available as well. On the other side of the concrete pull in was a nice flat spot for us to pitch our tent. Plenty of room for everything here. Water and electric hookups were easily accessible right in our site. The ground below the water spigot drains well and doesn't create a large mud puddle when you use it, a piece of campground engineering I have come to greatly appreciate. The site has a nice lantern/trash pole that includes a small shelf, great for all sorts of things!

The bathrooms are nice and were all maintained. We didn't use the showers but the toilets and sinks were more than adequate for morning and evening necessities.

The location is great, right outside of the city and perfectly placed for us to stop on our road trip from the national park sites in Tuskegee and heading to them in Selma.

Despite being two females and the campground being relatively empty, we felt incredibly safe. I mention this because this is not always the case when we camp in southern states.

Tent Camper Beware

I will preface this review with this: if you're an RV camper who enjoys all the amenities then you may very well love this campground. I will also say that the staff were very accommodating when we expressed our concerns and we were able to move to my parent's RV site and pitch our tent there for our four night stay. That being said, I am going to continue my review as it pertains to my experience as a tent camper.

I've stayed here before and the tent sites, of which there are only 12 (the entire campground has over 500 RV sites, so it's big) have really been neglected. When we arrived to our site it was littered with trash, the lantern post had been run over and was on the ground, there were more fire ants than grains of sand and the small marshy canal that ran through the back of the site was only about 10 feet from the picnic table and frequented by large alligators sunning themselves in the campsite. There was no way, especially with two dogs, that we were going to stay in this site. The campground personnel had us move to another tent site which was just as bad as the first one. We wound up pitching our tent in my parent's RV site where the grounds were actually maintained and landscaped.

You can rent bikes here, there's also a pool and a cool little nature center. Lot's of amenities available to guests and many of the RV folks are here for weeks upon weeks. It's a short bike ride to the beach and there are many miles of bike/walking paths throughout the park (it's quite large in terms of real estate).

There is a "dog park" but use at your own risk. My cousin lives a short drive from this spot and passed by frequently, often seeing large alligators sunning themselves on the "dog park" beach. They live in the "pond" that is fenced in as part of the dog area. There have been a few incidents and interactions with dogs and gators.

The RV sites are quite nice, large concrete pads and picnic tables. Stand up grills and lantern/trash poles (not run over and on the ground). Be aware of the raccoons and other critters that like pilfering through the garbage at night. Some of the sites are on canals which are home to large alligators and they do sun themselves in the sites from time to time. Unlike the heavily wooded tent sites, you can see the reptiles in the RV sites due to the impeccable landscaping in that part of the campground.

BONUS: We were there during the super moon and it was spectacular!

Quaint and Beautiful

It was great to visit this hidden gem again and I was pleasantly surprised at what great shape it was in following Hurricane Irma and other tropical storms last year. We visited in late November/early December so the bugs weren't too bad at all. We did experience an incredible line of thunderstorms but managed to get some exploring in before the weather moved in.

There are only a few sites here and they are quite small, perfect for small RVs, tents or sleeping in your car. Large oaks and other vegetation provide ample shade for the cooler fall months. Our two four legged fellas enjoyed the flat open grass/dirt area around the campsite and were able to be on their leads without wandering too far in to the thick brush on the edge of the site.

There's a small picnic table that can be moved quite easily as well as well maintained fire rings at each site. There is fresh water available and electric hookups at each site. The bathrooms are clean, as are the showers. The ranger at the entrance station was friendly and chatty. From the campground you can walk along the road (back toward the Visitor's Center) a ways and the duck into the woods or jump on the boardwalk. Keep your eyes peeled, there are some impressive alligators hanging around.

Highly Impacted Site Along the AT

The Ethan Pond Shelter campsite is managed by the Appalachian Mountain Club as well as the US Forest Service. There are several tent platforms (2 larger ones for groups and a few smaller ones for smaller parties) as well as the shelter itself. There is a kitchen area with a bear box and a privy (not maintained in the off season so a little out of control in early May) tended to by a seasonal AMC caretaker.

There was still plenty of snow there on my last visit which softens the extent of the impact. However, when the snow melts be prepared for a highly visited and often crowded site in the heart of the summer season. The shelter is not very large and can probably sleep 6 or 7 adults snuggly, I always opt for the tent platforms personally just to have a little more space and avoid the congregation of hikers at the shelter.

The view here is incredible, however. Watch the sun set over Ethan Pond and enjoy the protection of the boreal forest as you make your way from the trailhead toward the alpine zone. Please remember that fires are NOT allowed (despite the remaining contradictory evidence). This is a first come, first serve area but be sure to check in with the AMC caretaker when you arrive (if camping during the peak season). There's fresh water available just below the shelter, on the way in to the shelter. You do need to treat your water here.

Off the beaten path!

If you're looking for a nice secluded spot a little bit out of the way but not totally in the middle of nowhere, this is a great spot. The campground is 5.5 miles off of state route 113 down a gravel Forest Service road that is well maintained, however the road is gated and not maintained in winter.

The campground is a small USFS run facility with two small loops of sites. One loop has three sites and the other has 9. All sites are nicely shaded and have fire pits and picnic tables. The three sites in the lower loop are all pull through or back in sites. The remaining 9 are a bit elevated and have a small parking area about 20 yards (nice or take) from each site. Some require climbing a small set of stairs to access.

The lower loop's sites are right on the Wild River and are a bit larger than the others. The campground has two sets of vault toilets which are well maintained and odor free (at least in the fall). The campground only had two other sites occupied so it was like we had the place to ourselves.

There is a water spigot available for fresh water and serves as the only running water at the campground. There is a camp host on site that is eager to help and answer questions if needed. Sites are $18/night and there is an "iron ranger" (pay station) at the entrance.

If you're looking for something a little off the main road, this is your spot!

Nice Fall Camping

This U.S. Forest Service campground is small but meticulously maintained. It is clear that the USFS and campground hosts care about this space. Our campsite was freshly raked in and around the picnic table and fire ring. The entire campground and facilities are pristine. I especially appreciated the clear but non-passive aggressive signs throughout the campground.

Most sites are nicely shaded with nice tall hardwoods, though some times have more sun than shade. Our site had an exceptionally long picnic table which was nice. There are two vault toilet buildings and a large old fashioned water pump to get fresh water. This campground is bare bones but still close enough (about a 25 minute drive) to the nearest town in case you need access to supplies.

There is one small loop with 24 campsites, some of which are reservable online. Sites are $18/night and there is a self pay station as you enter the campground. This campground is located right off route 113 so can be a little bit loud especially during foliage on their motorcycles. So if you want more peace and quite check out the Wild River campground (it's 5.5 miles down a USFS dirt road).

The campground was virtually empty but I imagine it might get busy in the summer!

Great Location, Heavy Use

Blink and you'll miss this campground! It's just down the road from Umbagog State Park in Eroll, New Hampshire. Situated right on the Androscoggin River this small stretch of Class II whitewater is popular with all the area rafting companies. So if you find yourself here in the summer months, be prepared to be inundated with a multitude of people of all ages floating through the froth in all types of vessels. The campground is also the thoroughfare for foot traffic of these companies looking to run the stretch of bubbly more than once. Just be prepared.

There is a small office right on the road and the staff are super friendly. The campsites are along a dirt road right along the water. The northern most site is right next to a public boat launch. While it does experience a lot of traffic (people, boats, cars, and USGS Hydro employees) it is the nicest site at the campground. There is a nice grassy patch, picnic table and fire ring. An outhouse is a short walk down the dirt road. The road can get rutted and be very muddy, full of puddles and buggy (another reason I like the site farthest from the office).

If you are paddling along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (check out: https://www.northernforestcanoetrail.org for more information) this is a nice spot to spend a night or two. There is a large local sporting goods store, L.L. Cote, just down from the campground. Here you can re-stock on all your camping supplies, groceries and even scarf down some pizza and ice cream! It's definitely within walking distance of the campground.

Several large groups book nights here so be sure to call ahead if you want to stay.

Ranger Review: Grand Trunk Hangout Hammock Stand at Delaware Seashore State Park

This state park is quite large and offers a wide variety of amenities for both overnight guests and day use visitors. The park is quite large and right along the Delaware Route 1 corridor connecting multiple beaches. There are facilities on both sides of Route 1 and most of the park is well signed. The Indian River Bay is great for crabbing as long as the current is moving!

There are hundreds of campsites here, literally. Most have hookups and there are a view designated tent sites (although tents can camp at most sites). The facilities/amenities are quite nice but the campground is a parking lot. There's a ton of concrete and little to no shade, not pleasant in mid-summer unless you're camping in an RV running the AC.

Keeping with Delaware State Park regulations, day use visitors are required to pack out all trash but their are dumpsters available for overnight guests. Be advised that there is a two night minimum on weekends and some holidays.

While the staff are friendly and the facilities are nice, I probably won't camp here again in the summer.

Ranger Review: Grand Trunk Hangout Hammock Stand

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - today I am testing Grand Trunk's Hangout Hammock Stand.

https://www.grandtrunk.com/collections/hammocking-accessories/products/hangout-hammock-stand

We decided to purchase this to use camping but also in our own background (we don't have any trees at home). So Delaware Seashore State Park was a great place to give it a whirl given the lack of trees at the campground.

First off, this thing is built VERY WELL! It breaks down into 6 pieces and comes with a beefy carrying case. Although the strap on the case is a bit silly as it's too heavy to actually carry over the shoulder with the strap. It goes together and break downs super easy, it literally takes less than 5 minutes to assemble and disassemble. Once it's put together, use the "trunk straps" (included) slap your hammock to the attachment points and relax!

The stand weighs 32 pounds and is finished with a nice black finish. I was a little skeptical of how sturdy it would be once I was swinging in the hammock, but fear not…the stand doesn't budge! Even though it breaks down, it is still quite large when in pieces and might be challenging to transport if you drive a small vehicle with limited space. But if you're headed to a campground with limited to no trees be sure to bring this along!

Nice Newly Renovated Sites

We came back for another visit this September and the campground has undergone lots of renovations since I was here last so I wanted to provide an updated review.

As always, the biking and walking trails in the park are top notch! The Gordon's Pond trail offers beautiful salt march views with lots of birds especially first thing in the morning. Beach access is quick and easy from the campground, too!

We stayed in tent site 114 which was among a cluster of tent sites. Here you have to park in a parking lot and cart your stuff into your actual site. It's not a long haul but could be a pain in the neck if you tend to bring a lot of stuff with you when you camp. From our site there was a small path through the back of the site that provides quick and immediate access to the bike trails in the area.

The sites have newly built picnic tables (very heavy and sturdy) as well as new concrete pad fire rings with grates. They sit a little high off the ground than a traditional fire pit but are nice and well maintained thus far. As I mentioned, the tent site we were in was among a cluster of sites spaced out relatively evenly. However, if all of the sites had been full it would have been a bit close together for my liking. One thing that is nice about these sites is the amount of shade, super helpful in the late summer heat.

The bathroom facilities are also nice and well maintained. Be advised that many Delaware state parks require that you pack out all of your trash at most of their day use areas, the campground however DOES have a dumpster available for trash.

If you can get a reservation here it's totally worth the stay!

Ranger Review: Beautiful Secluded Spot

Campground Review

This state park is tucked in the largest tract of forest that lies between New York City and Washington D.C. and it is absolutely stunning. The area is full of whitetail deer, raccoons, opossums and other abundant wildlife so be watchful when driving especially during dawn and dusk hours.

The park has tons of amenities from freshwater ponds to a fish to a staffed swimming pool. There are multiple playgrounds for kids to play on and plenty of green space to roam. There are four camping loops (A, B, C and D). Loop A, B and C are in close proximity to one another while D is a bit further away and may be used for overflow camping. Loop A offers simple sites with no hookups. Each site has a fire ring and grate of some sort, picnic table and flat space for pitching a tent. Some sites in this loop have lantern posts but not all of them do. Unfortunately, the flat spot in our site that was not gravel was low-lying and would have flooded in the rain (which was forecasted). We wound up pitching our tent on the gravel to avoid waking up in a puddle. Beware, there is a TON of poison ivy riddled throughout the grounds. Some of it looks like it has been sprayed but it is still rather abundant.

The facilities in loop A are VERY nice and look as though they have been remodeled recently. There bathroom has roomy toilet and shower stalls, nice sinks and is all tile (very nice, clean tile). Outside the bathroom are two dish sinks with both hot and cold water. It was nice to not have food caked in the bathroom sinks!

The sites in loop A are rather impacted and there was a fair amount of garbage littered about which was disappointing. However, the sites in this loop are nicely spaced and while the campground was busy, we felt like we had plenty of space.

We drove through the rest of the loops and found that Loop B was very packed and sites were on top of one another. This was a loop with full hookups so there were RVs and other vehicles everywhere. Loop C, which allows pets was also a bit of a mess. Part of it is just an open field that looks more like a parking lot, however, if you keep driving the loop you will find more normal sites in the trees. We didn't have our dogs this visit, otherwise we might have stayed in this loop.

All in all this is a great spot close to the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site (totally worth a visit). I would certainly recommend staying here and checking out the area.

Gear Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - today I am testing the Ledlenser MH2 Headlamp. This headlamp is interesting and will definitely be great for certain applications, though it will more than likely not be my go to light in the backcountry.

Pros:

  1. When on the concentrated fish eye setting it is quite bright and would be great for point specific lighting needs. For instance, setting a bear hang in a tree where you need more focused and centralized lighting.
  2. Several settings including a strobe mode as well as a red light setting (more about the red light in the con section below).
  3. Seems to be well built and relatively durable. The strap itself is quite nice and comfortable across both the back and forehead.
  4. Batteries held up well compared to some other models on the market but this may be attributed to the lower lumen (100) rating.

Cons:

  1. When not on the fisheye/centralized setting, the light is not too bright. While the casting area is greater you definitely loose the brightness and any setting between the two doesn't yield great lighting results either. I would probably only use this for applications where I need light focused on one area.
  2. The red light is relatively useless in my opinion. It would be ok for reading but due to it's positioning on the actual housing, it is difficult to direct in a useful direction.
  3. The headlamp itself is quite heavy. After wearing it for an extended period of time I felt as though I would have liked it to be a bit lighter.
  4. The headlamp requires 3 AAA batteries but only came factory sealed with 2.

Overall this is a nice little headlamp. I keep one in my car as well as in our car camping box as an extra light source around the campground. As I mentioned, it won't replace my backpacking go-to model but it certainly worth the investment if you are looking for a spare or heavier duty model for those instances when weight doesn't matter.

Thanks for the opportunity to check out your product.

Exploring the Big South Fork

We stayed here while spending some time in the Big South Fork and other parts of the Daniel Boone National Forest. This relatively small 45 site campground can accommodate tents, campers and RVs and for only $17/night it's a steal! If camping in an RV, be sure to check out the facilities map because not all sites can fit large RVs. https://www.nps.gov/biso/planyourvisit/upload/Blue-Heron-Campground-Map-and-Regs-2014.pdf

There are restrooms available (no showers) and trash receptacles. We managed to see a black bear, so be sure you secure your food appropriately to minimize human and bear encounters. The campground is only open April through November.

We spent some time exploring the Natural Arch Scenic area as well, a short 30 minute drive from the campground.

Stayed here with family

This is another one of the U.S. Military Campgrounds (similar to the Maxwell/Gunter AFB one in Montgomery) and similarly, it caters primarily to RVs. There are a few tent sites available but they aren't very nice or well maintained. The whole campground is a bit run down and in need of attention and updating.

There is a boat launch and beach area. However, I wouldn't recommend spending much time in the beach area due to the large amount of garbage and pet waste. Oddly, dogs are allowed within the park but only if you are camping in a camper or RV. Dogs are not allowed in the tent camping area which I find odd.

We stayed here while visiting family in the area and I wouldn't stay here again. There isn't much to do unless you have a boat so you would be better off finding a different place to spend your time.

Nothing Fancy

This little campground is nestled along the Natchez Trace Parkway at mile marker 54.8 (https://www.nps.gov/natr/planyourvisit/upload/NATRmap_1_113_web.pdf).

This is a FREE first come, first serve campground that offers 22 sites. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and flat real estate for setting up your tent. The campground is well shaded and can accommodate RVs but there are no hook ups available. There are a few bathrooms that have flush toilets and sinks but there are not showers available.

It's a small facility that gets moderate use but appears to be well maintained. While black bears aren't prolific in the area they have been spotted. Be sure to store all food and scented items in your vehicle if possible.

Gateway to the Whites

The White Mountains stretch quite some distance. While the Presidential peaks are often considered the jewel of this range, I find the Franconia Ridge just as beautiful and stunning. From this location you can head up the ridge or toward Lonesome Lake, where you will find AMC run huts once up a bit higher.

This is a great valley spot that gives you access to several New Hampshire gems. The Pemigewasset River is beautiful and provides an easily accessible destination for the less adventurous. So whether it's 4,000 footers, pristine wilderness or a wild river, this campground provides access to all of these.

Other spots to explore while you're in the area include the historic Old Man in the Mountain site (even though he isn't there any more), The Basin, Kinsman Falls and The Flume Gorge!

This is a popular spot in the summer to book your spot well in advance!

Mammoth Cave is....

Well, Mammoth! Located only 1/4 of a mile from the park's Visitor's Center, this campground sets you up well for enjoying the amazing cave that stretches over 600+ miles under ground (probably under the campground even)!

The campground is operated by the National Park Service and there aren't any frills, something I appreciate. There are bathrooms (sinks and toilets only) located in the campground and coin operated showers can be found near the campground store. Laundry facilities are also located here, too. All of these services are seasonal so be sure to check the website for more information. https://www.nps.gov/maca/index.htm

The sites here are simple but offer everything you need for a pleasant stay. Fire rings and picnic tables accompany flat ground and plenty of trees for hammocks (or hammock tents for that matter). You can explore the cave as well as the Green River that runs through the park (as long as it isn't too high). This truly is one of the best parks I've visited and the campground provides the perfect spot for making the most of a visit.

Beautiful Clear Creek

This particular creek is one of my favorite canoeing destinations, as I grew up paddling along this river at summer camp. As an adult, it's been fun to return and spend time actually camping in the Bankhead National Forest. While I don't enjoy the heat and humidity the south has to offer in the summer months, this area provides well shaded sights and the cool water to keep the heat at bay.

This isn't a terribly busy camping area (I've never felt crowded here) and there are 102 sites ranging anywhere from $19-$38/night. Another highlight, unlike many USFS camping facilities this one has flush toilets! Not that there's anything wrong with vault toilets but flushing ones are nice!

If you find yourself in or around the Jasper area, take a moment to explore this national forest and why not spend a night or two in the woods while you're at it!

This campground is not open year round. It's season is early March-late October.

Historic Park, small campground

While this is a neat park to visit, there is limitedcamping available here. There are 39 RV sites with water, electric (dump station provided as well), grills, picnic tables and a paved pad not ideal for tenting. However, there are nice restrooms with clean hot showers.

Given the feel of this facility and its amenities, I feel as though this is primarily a day use facility. Full of historical buildings, interpretive information and other artifacts. This is a popular spot for school field trips, so if you're visiting during the school year don't be surprised if there are kiddos running around.

Whether you are camping or not, admission is only $2/person and there is a nice visitor's center full of helpful information to help understand the significance of the park.