the dyrt
Shelly S.
Bowling Green, KY
Joined June 2016
Been camping since I was a kid, got the “bug” from my mom;) Military taught me a different kind of camping.Now I’m back on my own with my three amigos
Solitude

Sprewell Bluff Park was an excellent pit stop when we passed through the area. I wish we had scheduled more days there instead of just an overnight. This will be on our list to visit again.

There is an overlook as soon as you enter the park across from the office. Next along the road is the campground.

Reserve ahead because there are only 6 RV sites .(6 cabins too) Shade, a limited view and some privacy.

The Flint river is the nice thing about this park, though the trails are definitely worth exploring.

The picnic and general visitors area by the river was busy when we arrived but we still had plenty of area to explore. The trail was not being used , everyone was in the water or at the pavilion. I did not check on watercraft rentals for the area but there was a boatramp on site and a few kayaks were in the water.

We spent all our time at the general visitors area enjoying the river. When we visit again I want to try out the trails that from the map look like they offer some good views and climb. Pack your water shoes, the rocks are slippery and your toes will thank you. We waded all along the area and there were several people jumping from a large rock in the deeper water.

The campground was quiet and felt very “isolated” after dark, a chance to feel like your in the middle of nowhere with a view.

First to Review
Gnats! And frogs

We stayed at the Americus KOA while completing our Canyon Challenge in Georgia. Right outside Americus, GA the campground sites are an extension of the Brickyard Plantation Golf Club and surrounded by the disc golf course.

This summer I had gotten a KOA membership to try it out. Of the KOA’s I stayed in this was by far one of the more spacious ones. I don’t know if it had any larger of an area but the openness of the golf course and surrounding area made it feel much bigger then the others ones I’ve visited. There were plenty of options to walk along the sides of the camping area and on the golf course. The dog park was a small area not really worth taking the dogs off their leads. But there were poo bags if you forgot yours;) Several water areas which I was leery of because of possible snakes. ( and yea I wondered about alligators, lol)

It was not lacking in wildlife! The cute tree frogs were everywhere. Bring your gnat repellent!!! They were horrible. Aside from the annoyance factor I guess it was better then mosquitoes. If you have a screen tent definitely pack it for this trip. In addition the coyotes came through the area , setting my dogs off at about 2 am the first night. There was “something” crying pitifully our second night there. I could not decide if it was a “cat” or possibly a baby raccoon, we did not go looking for it.

The nearby town had the street names of Lee, Jackson and Cotton to name a few and I didn’t really find anything exceptional to bring me back.

We placed our tent on the gravelled square at our site and hung the hammock. The showerhouse and laundry were within 25 feet of our site. The office was about 100 ft away and a community building with kitchen was about 25 ft from us. Very quiet area (aside from the wildlife) other campers mostly stayed inside their RVs.

One of many

Beeds Landing Area Campground in Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area, NE is one of many camping options throughout the area.

Beeds has two areas to pick from. To the left is the boatramp so there is more traffic in that area. The right side is a little more secluded. A pit toilet and dumpster are available and each site has a fire ring and picnic table.

Unfortunately the weather was not ideal during our visit so being near the water was not a must. However if you are a fisherman this area is ideal for you! At the main campground area is a nice pavilion fish cleaning area as well as the camper dumpsite.

About 30 minutes down the road is Valentine, NE for your food, fuel and supply needs. Otherwise this area is dark and quiet at night…..except for the wildlife of course.Bring your stargazing gear for additional entertainment and don’t forget your bug repellent:)

Pit stop in the rain

Pawnee Lake Lakeview Camping Area outside Lincoln, NE is a huge area. It was almost empty when we visited, I’m not sure I would want to stay there when it’s busy.

The primitive camp area has walk in sites right on the lake. But they are right next to each other so not much privacy. Direct put in with your water craft is totally possible. We opted for a paved site in the primitive area and slept in the truck due to the weather. In another section not on the lake were electric sites. Pit toilets, picnic tables and fire rings as well as a playground are available in the area.

The trails run throughout the park and are multi-use. As in equestrian, bike and hike so needless to say trail apples and mud pools were abundant. There are also ranges and hunting in season so be aware of the events in the area when you camp.

Sand and water but no beach

Boardman Creek Area Campground is one of many campgrounds in the Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area.

I likes Boardman Creek because of the site we used had direct put in and was secluded at the end of the camping area. I used a primitive site but Boardman has electric hook ups as well. There’s a pit toilet, dumpster, fire rings and picnic tables plus plenty of shade…..not that we needed it on our misty overcast outing but if you come in the middle of the summer it would be good;)

I saw no park employees so insure you read all signs and follow directions on paying for your site, visit and post your tickets correctly at your site.

There are no trails to speak of, only water, sand and fishing. So bring your gear and entertainment with you. There is a nice fish cleaning pavilion at the main campground and Valentine, NE is about 30 minutes up the road for fuel, food and supplies.

4 Wheel drive

Powder Horn Area Campground is part of Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area near Valentine, NE.

I traveled this area in September, when I left Kentucky it was in the 80’s, my first night in the Valentine area it got down to 41 and didn’t go above 55 for the entire time I was there. That being said pack a variety of clothes because the locals said it can be in the 70’s one day and snow the next this time of year ;)

Powder Horn is on the far side of the Merritt dam close to the entrance of the Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest. I’m from Kentucky and there is no forest in McKelvie, just a lot of prairie grass, sand and hills. Think of the desert with long grass on top. Pretty in a stark sense.

Powder Horn is a primitive campground set up with lots of trails off the main road in, a 4 wheel drive might be needed for some of the areas. There is a pit toilet and a boatramp in the main area otherwise you’ve a choice of locations to set up base camp. Merritt is all about fishing, there is a fish cleaning pavilion in the main camp area on the other side of the dam. I did not see an employee my entire time in the area, bring cash to pay for your site. Valentine was about 30 minutes away with fuel, food and some entertainment.

Little park, lots to do

Cedars Of Lebanon State Park ,split tree fences and ancient farm equipment, black and white photos in the visitors center, old style cabins and rock boundary fences. History is very present in Cedars.

A 2 mile running trail that meanders through old farm land and indigenous trees. CCC original looking covered benches which overlook a dry stream bed that ends in an exploitable old cave. A wood bridge further down the small valley crosses the stream bed and can be followed to the nature centers very cool garden.Check in before exploring the cave and wear old clothes that you don’t mind getting muddy, low ceiling and headlamp/flashlight needed.

The picnic area which is adjacent the lodge has small and large pavilions for use and fire pits. The lodge looks like it’s the original that you can see in the black and white photos.

The campground has three areas. One has side by side sites, no privacy and not much space but easy in, easy out. The other two loops have more area between sites which are tucked back into the trees. Area 3 is for pop ups , tents and vans with 20 amp electric, Area 2 is for the larger campers, 30 amp and area 1, the side by side is 30 to 50 amp. There is disc golf, a swimming pool and riding stables plus two playgrounds and a nice gazebo that you can rent for special events. Definitely a campground to spend a chill weekend and unwind.

Way down there

We recently visited Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tn while enroute to Georgia. The Tennessee countryside is an enjoyable backdrop to this meandering road trip and you are very close to several other excellent Tennessee SPs.

I noticed a sign on the way in to Fall Creek Falls advertising a yearly festival, the “Mountaineer Folk Festival” the weekend after Labor Day. http://www.mountainglenonline.com/thingstodo/events/mountaineer-folk-festival-at-fall-creek-falls-state-park.html

The park also has a nice looking golf course, the Tree Top Canopy Challenge and an extensive facility area including the visitors center, gift shop, general store, swimming pool, laundromat and grill.

When I visited last year it was extremely busy and the attractions were crowded. This year I visited on a week day after school was back in session so it was mostly retirees who haven’t started their migration south yet ;) at the campground. Fall Creek has a large spread out campground with several choices , primitive walk-ins, glamping or something in between. There are gravel sites and paved. A picnic table, fire ring and grill as well as electric and water hookups. The facilities are centrally located in each area.

We stopped at Fall Creek Falls first and made the trek down to the base of the falls after first visiting the overlook. Moderate, technical,( rocky, slippery, wear hiking shoes, carry your flip flops for the wade in the pool below) 1.6ish mile round trip hike. When you leave the Fall Creek area there is a one way road you can take to Piney Falls it has some picturesque views of the area.

Piney Falls is worth a look too. I love suspension bridges, my dogs not so much. Piney has a .4ish mile round trip hike that includes a long suspension bridge with a short scramble down to the river.

I also noticed some bike trail trailheads within the park, something else to enjoy while visiting.

Fall Creek Falls is definitely a place you can spend a week or more at and do something different everyday.

Watch those ruts

Ranger Review: Matador Droplet at Ginger Bay Land Between the Lakes, Ky.

Campground Review:We visited Ginger Bay boat ramp and dispersed camping area while at Land Between the Lakes(LBL) , Ky. Ginger Bay is actually in Tennessee. The road you take off The Trace, which runs down the middle of LBL, has several signs and other turn offs. So pay attention to the signs. You will end up on a dirt/gravel road with some interesting ruts and steps hills. Once you make it to the Ginger Bay area there are several side "roads" that lead to camping spots. If you are not in a 4 wheel drive you might want to investigate the road before using it, there were several deep ruts. You have the pick of spots if you have a dispersed pass which can be purchased at any of the offices. Direct put in is an option or if you have a bigger watercraft the boat ramp is right there. No toilet facility, no fire rings, no tables. This is a all what you bring with you. Generators are allowed but definitely spoil the quiet. When we visited the ramp was somewhat busy with day-use visitors. Realize when you dispersed camp at LBL though there are no large predators there are coyotes so if you have dogs keep an eye out. Every time I disperse camp I hear coyotes throughout the night, sometimes very close by. A single coyote would probably not bother a dog but a pack will.

Product Review: As a Dyrt Ranger I get to review some awesome outdoor products. This trip I took along my Matador Droplet. This is a little blue water drop shaped silicon shell with a seam-sealed polyester bag folded inside. The 3 liter capacity actually holds a lot. After my kayak trip I put my wet shorts, shirt, under garments and water shoes into the bag. There is a draw string on the bag to close it up. The bag then went into my clothes bag in the back of the truck. The wet stayed in the bag.

Pro's: compact, nice size dry bag, very convenient, cute

Con's: a bugger to get back in the silicon container, takes practice, a little expensive but good quality that will last

I plan on getting a few Droplets as Christmas presents and will probably get a Droplet XL to add to my pack gear.

Don’t Bother

The D&N “Campground” is on the outskirts of Ashland City, Tn adjacent to the Restaurant/Club owned by the same people. I would not refer to it as a campground, it is more a permanent residence for people in campers. The boatramp was in poor condition and there was no shade, just a gravel road and full hookups. There are a few recreation areas not too far away but I’m not sure why you would want to park your camper here and then drive to other locations?

I can see your house from here

Ranger Review: Mountain House Freeze Dried Meals at Cloudland Canyon East Rim, GA.

Campground Review:East Rim Campground Pro’s: 1-Handicap Accessible, there is a cabin which is also HDA. 2- If your visiting for a get together your right next to the day use area and there is a picnic pavilion within the campground. 3-The Interpretive Center is close by, the Main Overlook is close by and the Main trailhead is close by.

I like the West Rim Campground better. Few reasons: 1-East Rim Campground is adjacent to the day use area so there is A LOT more vehicle and foot traffic. 2-East Rim Campground is very open, not much shade and the sites are one after another, no privacy. Definitely suited for big rigs. 3-The cabins are right next to the campground also, more traffic.

So it really goes to preference and why your visiting.

The sites each have fire ring, grill, electric, water and gravel drives. Most are on wood patios, no stakes are going in this ground. There is a showerhouse with laundry facilities centrally located and a picnic pavilion and playground within the campground.

We enjoyed the Overlook Trail , easy walk and excellent views! The main trailhead gives you access to the falls below and the other nearby trails. It’s a LONG (down and up), somewhat strenuous hike so take water and snacks ;)

Product Review: As a Dyrt Ranger I get to review products while I review campgrounds.

My absolute favorite thing about Mountain House Meals https://www.mountainhouse.com/, aside from the taste is the convenience! Back in the day when my kids were young I would drag out all the fixings and flat wear and pots and etc. then make whatever meal it was. Then we would eat, then we would clean up. Half the morning /afternoon/evening was gone. (Which at times had its perks) But now that my kids are grown I like to be up and on the trail as soon as possible. Mountain House is a key ingredient in that life style. Start a fire, throw on water to boil, pour in pouch, eat…DONE! Breakfast meals are my favorite. The only issue I have ever had with any meal was the rice being crunchy, but that was my fault. Even then it still tasted crunchy good :)

I had the Oatmeal with milk and blueberries this time. LOTS of blueberries!

So needless to say I had a supply of Mountain House before this opportunity to review the product; in my vehicle, in the camper and in the house for emergency situations.

Lots of Clouds this time

Ranger Review: Nature’s Coffee Kettle at Cloudland Canyon West Rim Campground.

Campground Review: If you like scenery Cloudland Canyon State Park should be added to your list of must hikes. I found an info card at the Visitors Center for the “Canyon Climbers Club” and it was a no brainer that I would go for it. 4 Georgia Parks, 4 hikes with awesome scenery , 4924 steps, all in approximately 3 miles-ish, and a T-shirt when your done ;) Cloudland Canyon was the first.

After picking our tent site ( there are no reserve ahead sites, only reserve ahead choice. Once you check in you go pick a site. So no telling where you may end up only that you will have a site for the night. Good and bad.) which took some perusing for good trees (Tentsile configuration) I set up. I then hooked up the dogs and walked to the convenient in campground trailhead to the West Rim Trail. A right at the T and a through at the Y at which point we began our decent. This is a workout for sure wear your good shoes, A LOT of metal grate steps to get down to the falls! We went right at the next intersection and continued down to Hemlock Falls. A very picturesque and cool area. A lot of scrambling over rocks and high water debris, a lot of picture taking opportunities.

After huffing and puffing ( carrying two dogs that did not like the metal grating;) my way back up to the campground and supper. There are both fire rings and grills at each site plus electric and water hook up. Several of the sites have “patios” with gravel on hard packed dirt , NOT conducive for stakes! I noticed several sites had areas off to the side were people had set up tents near the fire rings. We were near the showerhouse which is newer, two showers , two sinks, three stalls, doors propped open, bugs flying about. There are laundry facilities in the same building. The camp hosts have wood for sale and I saw quite a bit of them throughout the visit. The campground was about 1/3 rd full so pretty quiet and good privacy. Phone signal one bar, no WiFi.

Product Review: As a Dyrt Ranger I have the opportunity to review outdoor products while camping. Nature’s Kettle Coffee (and Hot Chocolate) https://www.naturescoffeekettle.com/is a welcome addition to my camping pantry. I miss my morning coffee while out dispersed camping and sometimes don’t take the time to pack everything needed to make coffee at a campground. Nature’s Kettle Coffee has taken a lot of pre-planning/packing out of the equation by putting almost everything you need in one foldable pouch with pouring handle and sealed “spout”. Three steps, tear open pouch and pour in boiling water, let steep and re-pour same water for stronger coffee if wanted , enjoy. The pouches are reusable too with coffee filter refills available on the site. Which almost negates one of my con’s of the extra “material” filling up landfills. The only other con I had was pouring the hot liquid into the “floppy” pouch. Be VERY careful at this step, it got a little dicey and I pulled out my silicon oven mit to protect my fingers. Otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed the hot chocolate and Sumatra coffee. Can’t wait to try the other flavors of coffee and tea.

Keep it moving

Georgia Veterans State Park sits next to Lake Blackshear and shares the lake front with a resort. There is a marina , condos and a golf course on resort side. On the Park side there is the much more desirable campground:)

There are plenty of options to choose from in the three camping “loops”. Some lakeside sites have direct access to the water and in camping area 1 you can get pretty close to the fishing pier. A lot of the sites are pull through , in area 3 all sites are pull through and several of the sites border one of the Nature trails. The primitive walk in tent sites are in area 3. There are two handicap accessible sites and two double sites for group camping(the other sites are close together so this just puts you on the same “pad”)There is shade but definitely more on some sites then others. Not a lot of privacy. It wasn’t real busy or noisy so the open layout wasn’t a major hang up for me. This is definitely more of a “organized”, well maintained, military feel campground. I didn’t get the State Park in the woods vibe at all :)

There are rental Cottages which overlook the water some with screen porches. There is a fishing pier behind Cottage one and two.

In addition there are boocoo recreation activities:

Disc golf (a little over grown)

Pioneer Group campsite

Aviation and Combat Arms equipment

A museum

Model airplane field

Outdoor exercise equipment along with an exercise trail

Nature trails

Archery range

Fishing piers

Large boat ramp

Small boat ramp

Excursion Train

A beach with facilities and shaded picnic area

We only took the time to camp and hike but you could easily spend some time here and do something different every day. I’m unfamiliar with the area and wildlife so I kept the boys on short leashes when we walked in the woods , especially near the water. The trails were nice, somewhat maintained and there was old signage plus benches. Not my favorite this trip but nice enough.

Oh my.....

Ranger Review: Matador Backpack Beast 28L at O’Lena State Park, Florida.

Campground Review:

Ever seen Jurassic Park? O’Lena is a lot like that :)

I travel with my three amigos ( Pomeranian, Dachshund and Australian Cattledog) and was on high alert as soon as we entered the park. My dogs don’t understand that this is the type of park where the wildlife will chase and eat them instead of the other way around ………So that being said keep a close eye on your kids and pets!

The foliage is lots of fern and primitive looking fauna which makes for a very intriguing visit. Another movie that came to mind while hiking on the river loop trail was “Anaconda”, no I didn’t see any snakes( or alligators for that matter) but the trail and bridges were reminiscent of that movie , no machete required. Instructional signage along the way and interesting sights along the Santa Fe River. The bridges were pretty cool and the original recreated settlement is pretty awesome. All CCC construction. There is a picnic area, a pavilion, a lodge, a museum, several other structures and a swimming area (WHAT!!) which was closed when we visited due to high water levels. Funny sign ( LOTS of sarcasm cause you know somebody did it) says to not swim with the alligators……I was glad for that warning cause I had my water wings ready to go.

There are several trails available for hiking and biking and a primitive campsite on Sweetwater Trail. Santa Fe River goes underground in this area and you can check it out along the trails, going in and coming out again.

There is equestrian camping and trails available but I did not visit that area. Bug spray and be aware of your surroundings while enjoying the trails.

The Dogwood campground sites are well spaced out with sand, electric, sand, water, picnic table and sand. Some of the sites are more suitable for group camping. The Dogwood trailhead is in the campground. It is a well maintained easily accessible area. Other then being on constant watch for wild creatures waiting in ambush to grab my dogs I like this park. It felt very tropical primitive and has several activities to enjoy.

Product Review:

Matador Beast28 Packable Technical Backpack https://matadorup.com/ has been a very useful and versatile addition to my outdoor gear. It hangs in its stuff sack in the back of my vehicle out of the way until needed (PRO). When I have need of a small sturdy backpack for day hikes or light overnighters it’s right there ready for use.

When I first received my Matador Backpack I pulled the Beast28 out of its stuff sack and explored all its pockets and possible attachment sites. I then Re-folded it and actually got it back in the stuff sack (PRO), a definite plus since I often have a hard time re-stuffing gear into its original bag.

I have extra bladders from my hydration systems so I loaded the Beast with a bladder, no problem. There are right and left “ports” from inside to outside the pack and elastic straps on the shoulder straps to run the hose through. This option of course goes on both Pro and Con. PRO-the ability to load bladder and run hydration hose , CON-it’s not going to fit in the stuff sack anymore. So hydration bladder has to be packed and carried separately (not that big of a deal).

I’ve read where other people were not to impressed with the pocket size but when I loaded it up I was able to fit everything I wanted to pack for an overnight. Mind you I’m not a “professional” backpacker, however I stay pretty comfortable when I do venture into the woods.

I used the Beast as a day bag while at O’Lena , I packed it with snacks and a few other essentials. I am long in torso and noticed that the hip belt is more of a middle waist belt for me. The Beast worked well and was comfortable for a short hike around the river area.

I wore the Beast again while hiking on Ft Campbell, Ky. Longer distance, little bit more gear. I had to redistribute my load because my cook pot was sitting in the bottom of the bag and riding in the small of my back, not comfortable. I adjusted the shoulder and waist straps a few times on this hike for comfort. Something that would be a nice upgrade would be pockets on the waist straps for snacks, etc so that you don’t have to completely remove the bag to reach your snacks.

Most recently I wore the Beast at Mammoth Cave National Park for an overnighter. Everything I needed fit in the Beast(PRO). Two things (CONs) I noticed, one the Beast has no “frame/skeleton” per say so when you are attempting to pull single items out other items tumble out also because the bag basically collapses on itself…if that makes sense :) two, once again due to the lack of a “frame” when you work up a sweat while hiking your back gets wet because the bag is sitting right on your shirt/skin, no breathable material in between.

Overall I like the Matador Beast 28 , it is convenient, versatile and well made.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

I loved** Fort De Soto State Park**, Florida! My favorite for this trip as far as location and atmosphere . But this may be because I seldom visit the beach type campgrounds and it’s something unique to me. If you don’t like sand in everything you may not pick this as your favorite;)

In the campground there are two loops. Most of the outer sites in each area had access to the water, some had direct access where people parked their watercraft for their visit.

In the first loop all the middle sites were long and pull through with a screen of foliage between each site. Suited for the bigger rigs. The second loop had smaller sites and the road was a little “skinnier” more for pop ups and tents. It was a little more crowded in the middle sites and less of a foliage screen between sites.

Overall both areas were very Gilligan’s Island homey if you were on a cruise ship that ran aground and everyone made their “homes” in the same area ;) It is a well maintained area with centrally located facilities. There is an inlet for fishing and short trail within easy walking distance or you can strike out on the long paved trail.

Recreationally speaking aside from the water sports there was a hike/ bike trail the entire length of the park with access to several beach areas and fishing piers. Then there is the Fort to explore if you like your history and a ferry service within the park. Another thing was a triathlon going on while we visited at the far end of the park, the swim portion would have been a definite challenge, the bike was on flat roads and I didn’t see the run portion but if it was on the sand that would be a workout!

I saved the best for last (in my opinion) there is a TOTALLY AWESOME DOG BEACH which was definitely the main reason I picked the park to visit. A nice stretch of beach where my dogs had an excellent time playing in the water, weeds and sand. There are two fenced dog parks with seats, shade and dog wash areas to rinse off the sand before heading back out. All of this is very close to a touristy area with coffee shops, fuel and other necessities. But you would never know it if you just stay in the park, it just feels very …..detached from the city.

A thumb and three paws up for this park!

First to Review
Im trying to be unbiased

KOA in Cordele, Ga is another example of what I don’t usually visit while going camping. I purchased a membership recently to give KOA a fair shake , they do sponsor a camp for kids and offer deals certain months , plus some people like their WiFi while camping AND as a child my family journeyed from Ohio to California one summer in the 70’s and KOA was the thing back then ( no WIFi of course;) but plenty of swimming pools, putt putt golf and evening entertainment.

That being said…..every KOA I’ve visited so far is an “island”, not connected to any outside recreational areas , it may be different in other areas. In Cordele, you had the campground and that was it. You have to drive somewhere else if you wanted to hike, kayak, mountain bike, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, this is my preference in camping, my sister in law loves KOA’s, so it all goes back to what you want.

The facilities were mostly well maintained but the grass was a little high in the tent area, may have just been in between maintenance. There was a small, fenced dog area and poo bags provided throughout the campground in yellow mail boxes. This was a long skinny campground with the pool located in front of the office , the dump station to the right of the road in and the shower facility behind the office. There was also a kitchen with an outside grill available.

We got in after dark and the after hours sign in and site assignment was a little confusing or I was just tired. When I followed the map I had a difficult time following the overgrown road to the tent site and was the only one there. Not a lot of light and not very good boundary markings to my site but no worries I was alone and could have parked longways had I wanted to. It was quiet and we slept well enough. There was electric, a fire ring and picnic table at each site plus plenty of sand, gnats (bring your bug stuff) and grass.

Once again, this all goes back to preference, it is a nice enough KOA but same as the other one I would not want to visit when it’s full, it would be crowded with little privacy.

Old meets New

As soon as we pulled into Cedars Of Lebanon State Park I got the old time vibe from the split tree fences and ancient farm equipment to the black and white photos in the visitors center, this park seems very in touch with its beginnings.

We hiked some of the 2 mile running trail and then veered off to explore the CCC original looking covered bench which overlooks a currently dry stream bed. There is a similar covered bench on the far-side of the dry creek with very cool stone “steps” leading from one to the other and a wood bridge further down the small valley to cross the stream bed when it has water in it. The stream runs into a cave that you can visit while at the park, guided tours are suggested but not required. Check in before exploring the cave and wear old clothes that you don’t mind getting muddy, low ceiling and headlamp/flashlight needed.

As you follow path up away from the creek bed you wander into a very unique garden area which is part of the Nature Center. I would love to have the creativity and skill to build some of the structures in my yard. Definitely worth a visit.

The picnic area which is adjacent the lodge has small and large pavilions for use and fire pits. The lodge looks like it’s the original that you can see in the black and white photos.

The campground had the smell of bacon cooking when we pulled in which just sets the atmosphere perfectly;) there are three loops. One has side by side sites, no privacy and not much space but easy in, easy out. The other two loops have more area between sites which are tucked back into the trees. Area 3 is for pop ups , tents and vans with 20 amp electric, Area 2 is for the larger campers, 30 amp and area 1, the side by side is 30 to 50 amp. Aside from the occasional overly excited children it is a very nice quiet campground. There is disc golf, a swimming pool and riding stables plus two playgrounds and a nice gazebo that you can rent for special events. Definitely a campground to spend a chill weekend and unwind.

Step back in time

Charit Creek Lodge in Big South Fork is AMAZING! There is a price tag on any unique experience but you do have a choice as to how unique it want it to be.

The Lodge offers group cabins, single beds, tent sites and Tentsile sites WITH a beach ;) What makes it so cool is these are original wood cottages with wood bunk beds and stoves for in the winter. They offer meal packages with your reservations too.

The guy that runs the place looks like a settler from the ole days with a red beard and “earth” attitude.

To get here you have to hike, ride a horse or bike. There is a road in but not for visitors. There are stalls for your horses to as well as a tie out area if your just passing through.

A place to visit even if you don’t want to over night just for the history. The lodge is located at the “intersection” of several trails. My favorite trail down is from the Twin Arches and back through Jakes Place.

There is a large lodge that is split into sleeping areas and a dining area with a nice covered porch with rocking chairs to pass the afternoon away in. Adjacent is the small kitchen that is used to prepare meals and there are snacks that you can purchase(bring cash) There is a restroom above a storage locker which is surrounded by a small kitchen garden. The cabins are behind the lodge as well as an old barn.

We walked back to the Tentsile area that had just been set up with brand new Tentsile 3 person tents. The creek that runs past has a little sand beach and there is an area that is almost waist deep to relax in. You pass a small mowed trail that leads back to two rope hammocks to relax in . On the way back to the cabins you can see the trail that leads in to one of the tent sites that also sits next to the river.

Dogs are permitted in the cabins and tent areas , not in the Tentsile area. Horses are allowed in the stable and tie out areas.

Just an awesome place to visit, it really makes you think about how people used to live in the old days and how remote they actually were.

What are you here for?

Alum Ford Big South Fork Recreation Area is in my top 10 favorite areas.

I try to participate in the Yamacraw Trail Run every year because it is just AWESOME, and this area is part of their route due to the excellent scenery of the area.

If you like trees, hills, streams, falls, historical markers, old cabins and history , plus not much use of modern technology when you camp then you will thoroughly enjoy Big South Bend! If you are a bring the kitchen sink kinda camper you might wanna find a nearby KOA or other type campground.

The campground has no signal, no electricity, no showers, no host. Just you, a tent pad, picnic table and fire ring. Oh, and there is one pit toilet. Bring 5$ cash for the honor pay station and your hiking shoes and watercraft. There is a Trailhead at the back of the 6 site campground and a boat ramp down the hill.

The sites are well maintained and old , probably CCC built with wood steps leading up or down to your site. There is no direct access to the boatramp but there is a short trail that connects the sites to the boatramp that runs along the cliff face down to the ramp.

The trailhead is part of the Sheltowee Trace Trail and connects to the Yamacraw Bridge. You could easily stage a multi day backpacking trip from Alum Ford to take in the local sights.

Not far up the road is the Yahoo Picnic Area. I think it used to be a campground just by the way it’s set up. Picnic tables on pads and a nice old pavilion for groups with a grill. Past that Yahoo Falls. This is a technical, moderate trail down to the tallest falls in Kentucky. Also a very old area but maintained with newer restroom facilities. The loop trail was approximately 1.5 miles long with a metal staircase on one side and trail on the far side. This is also part of a thru trail. Get you an old fashion paper map before coming cause your fancy electronic gear may or may not work here.

This is one of many areas through the Kentucky/Tennessee Big South Fork if you are able plan for an extended stay to check the whole place out;)

Put it on the Pad

Ranger Review: Mountain House Meals at Alum Ford Campground ,Big South Fork, Ky

Campground Review: Near Yahoo Falls Alum Ford this small (6 sites) primitive campground is a good place to set up base camp for activities your planning in the area.

Not much to the actual campground:

• Picnic table, bear box, tent pad ,fire ring

• Pit toilets

• Co-located with a boat-ramp (Cumberland River)

• A trail that meanders along the cliff face behind the campsites that takes you down to the boat-ramp

• Trailhead in the very back to Yamacraw Bridge and the Sheltowee Trace

The campground is quiet aside from loading and unloading boats (which went on until after midnight) There were only two occupied sites when we arrived on a Saturday. No reservations and $5 per site. There is credit card information on the pay envelope but I prefer to use cash and not have my info floating around.

The campground was clean and well maintained but obviously old and in need of some restoration, no surprise with all the cuts in Park positions. I like this type of campground but not so much the noise from the boat-ramp. There is no direct put in from the sites. I doubt I would leave my watercraft tied off overnight either.

This would be an excellent and cheap spot to do some extensive hiking from or even backpacking/dispersed camping from. Due to there being no through traffic you could leave your vehicle and odds and ends and not have to worry about anything wandering off while your gone. We camped here after hiking some of the Tennessee end of the Sheltowee Trace. Sunday we hiked some more and visited Yahoo Falls.

Product Review: Mountain House Freeze Dried Meals are surprisingly very good….https://www.mountainhouse.com/m/abus.html

Now I say this from a background of years of MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat….in someone’s opinion) and T-rations. So it should only be improvement, BUT some of the other products I’ve tried were not that great.

I first tried Mountain House a few years ago on a backpacking trip and thought it was okay, but not great. I tried Mountain House again last year and enjoyed it a lot more. I don’t know if they changed anything or maybe I read and followed the directions ;)

So when given the opportunity as a Dyrt Ranger to review Mountain House I was like absolutely!

I selected breakfast items, Granola and Egg mixtures( not together;) because that’s the time of day I like quick and easy so we can get on the move.

I read the directions and boiled my water, poured a cup in, waited 3 minutes and Had Some Scrumptious Eggs and Bacon! Just that easy, quick AND filled me up.

I’m trying to think of any cons but right off hand the only problem I ever had was not reconstituting it correctly. Eggs needed some salt and pepper but that would go back to preference.

Mountain House comes in pro-paks for backpackers and high altitudes, which are packed to save space. They have cans for crowds and kits for preppers or just emergency preparedness.

Definitely good for at the house, in the camper and the car just in case.