View Full Version : camping spots north of the nantahala outdoor center, Bryson City NC?

09-27-2018, 13:49
Hello White Blaze Forum.
My first post to the forum, but I've benefited from this forum for years now, when the forum discussions show up in my google search results.

So I'm planning a section hike in NC and will be passing through the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Looking for a place to stay nearby.

Found this old thread with great info: https://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/75400-any-good-camping-spots-north-of-the-nantahala-outdoor-center

Replies on that thread indicate as of 2011 there was a small campsite near the RR tracks at NOC, and another campsite about 3 miles further up the trail. (plus a shelter about 7miles in)

If anyone has been through that area more recently, can you confirm those campsites are still there, and their condition? I am especially wondering about the site by the RR tracks just past NOC. If I need to continue 3-7 miles for the next campsite, I'd like to know that in advance.

Thanks to all. This forum is very informative.

Always right on time,

09-27-2018, 14:00
There is a spring at about mile 139 which has camping near it that I've stayed at before. It is maybe a half mile before the Wade Sutton Memorial and the Grassy Gap Trail when heading north out of NOC. I seem to recall it is marked by a blue blaze trail to NOBO's left at a spot where there is a broken cliff band and sloped muddy possible camping area on the NOBO's right. When you go left on the blue blaze trail, right before you reach the water you will notice a faint trail to your right that goes over a small rise and there are a number of flat spots with a fire ring there.

09-27-2018, 14:03
Oh, and there is another camping spot maybe a mile north out of NOC but it was sloped from what I remember and I decided not to stay there and continue on which is how I found the spot I mentioned previously.

09-27-2018, 15:01
Are you hiking the AT or driving through the NOC area? Not clear. Don't forget about the shelter on the AT about a mile before (south) of the NOC. :)

09-27-2018, 15:06
Driving to NOC, to begin a section hike from there heading up to Cheoah Bald and beyond. Scoping out where to camp that first night. Great point about the shelter 1mile South as a backup plan.

Dan Roper
09-27-2018, 15:23
The shelter a mile south of NOC is Rufus Morgan Shelter. It's in a dingy spot and is often pretty trashy. In the past, there were warnings that the water source was contaminated. I don't know if that's changed or not.

If I was heading northbound from NOC, I'd head northbound (ha ha), forgetting about Rufus Morgan. Steel Cut's suggestions are good ones. Also, Sassafras Shelter at mile 7.0 isn't a bad climb, especially if you're lucky enough to catch the weather on a cool October day. The climb out of NOC has a fearsome reputation, but when I did it in October 10, I was pleasantly surprised by its gradual nature.

09-27-2018, 18:51
That place is one of the slipperiest, muddiest messes on the AT in wet weather.

Sassafras Shelter at mile 7.0

09-27-2018, 21:19
It all depends on when you get there, as to where you can go right away. If you arrive anywhere near dusk, get a room. It doesn't cost much to stay in a bunk room in the NOC.

AWOL shows the first campsite at the top of the hill above the shelter at Swim Bald. That's the only place I would consider reliable. Anywhere else would be "well if I really had to maybe I could make it work here". 6.7 miles and a 3000 foot climb to the shelter with full food load on first day is an all day hike this time of year.

11-05-2018, 10:51
Kicking this thread back up, to share what I saw now that I have hiked this section in Oct 2018. No evidence of a campsite by the train tracks at NOC, so a bunk room at NOC is the way to go. Heading NoBo from NOC, I didn't see any good camping spots for those first 3 miles. The first "real" campsite with plenty of spots for tents/hammocks plus nearby water, is about 3 miles in. Beyond that, there are maybe 6 or 8 small sites along the way to the shelter located 7 miles in, but the small sites didn't appear to have much in the way of water options. Thanks to all who responded to my original post. It was very helpful. Happy trails, Tardy

blue indian
11-05-2018, 10:53
Cheoah bald is a magical place

11-05-2018, 14:21
That place is one of the slipperiest, muddiest messes on the AT in wet weather.

Sassafras Shelter at mile 7.0

I agree on the slippery - about mile 6 into my day from the NOC - slipped and twisted ankle.

Had to walk up on it - going North. Then left trail from my section hike.
If you need water at the shelter south of the NOC then keep walking to the river and filter that.