View Full Version : Car Camping Near Loop Hikes - KY/TN/VA/WV/NC

10-13-2021, 15:45
Hey all,

Trying to find some great car camping locations as a basecamp for myself, my wife, and our two dogs. Looking to stay around a 6 hour driving radius leaving outside of Louisville, KY. Would love to be able to show my wife some of the southern sections of the AT I hiked (class of '13 SoBos) if possible. I found a few near Mt Rogers, such as Hurricane Campground, but I prefer primitive where there isn't a water source or electricity at the site (to weed out the RVers). Any help would be greatly appreciated!


HoverJob '13 AT Sobo
DooFrain '15 CDT Sobo

10-13-2021, 16:31
Thinking of Mount Rogers area - The Scales Campground might meet your criteria…

10-13-2021, 16:34
Not sure far you are from Louisville but you would be bumping up against your 6 hour limit points just north of Damascus. That being said, I have looked at several campgrounds along the Blue ridge parkway itself in the past and those campgrounds tended to be primitive. They also seemed to be a bit open in general grassy, not many trees. The BRP doesn't come too close though to the AT until a little south of Roanoke, VA heading northward.

10-13-2021, 16:41
Most of the National Forest campgrounds are primitive. Cherokee, Nantahala and some of the George Washington Jefferson NF in the areas you are interested in.

10-14-2021, 00:27
The title of your query includes KY. No place in our state is close to the southern AT. But as you probably already realize, many locations within the Daniel Boone Forest have hiking trails that are, in their own way, at least as scenic as most sections of of the southern AT. Throughout the Daniel Boone there are attractive cliffs, rock formations, streams, lakes and gorges. The Sheltowee Trace, which I have section hiked in its entirety, passes through (or near) some primitive Forest primitive campgrounds. Attractive loop hikes can be done from each of the campgrounds that I'll mention below.

Within 2 to 3 hours from Louisville consider either going to the Clear Creek F.S. Campground (Cave Run Lake area) or to the Koomer Ridge S.P. Campground (Red Rover Gorge Scenic Area). Or, drive slightly further, but far less than six hours, to either the Bee Rock F.S. Campground (Rockcastle Narrows Trail, Sheltowee Trace, etc. loop.), the Alum Ford Campground (Negro Creek Loop), or the Cumberland Falls State Park Campground. Of those, my personal favorite for a car camping plus hiking venture would be Alum Ford Campground. It's small and generally very quiet. Adjoining trails along the Big South Fork River, including sections passing thru thru the Yahoo Falls Scenic Area, are great. My second choice would be hiking from the Cumberland Falls State Park Campground.

Tennessee Viking
10-14-2021, 09:35
Linville Gorge area has several FSR with campsites along them.

Steele Creek area is an old primitive campground. Only accessible from April to end of December.

Mr. Bumpy
10-16-2021, 08:03
Cumberland Gap National Park fits your bill and has an excellent front country campground. I haven't hiked too much there but there is a nice trail network and backcountry campsites. The town of Cumberland Gap is a picturesque inholding-type of town surrounded on three sides by the park and has a couple of shops and restaurants. History opportunities at the nearby VA state park and the national park visitors center. The town of Middlesboro proudly states they are the birthplace of Lee Majors, but there is also a good brewery there. There is an awesome new distillery, Axe Handle Distilling, located in Pennington Gap. I look at Cumberland Gap as like a small Smoky Mt. park - just smaller and with less people.

Mr. Bumpy
10-16-2021, 08:07
At Cumberland Gap, you can through hike the 20+ mile long ridge line trail, and use any number of side trails for loop opportunities.

10-20-2021, 09:08
The Big South Fork has an unlimited amount of loop options and incredible history to be found! One example is starting at Pickett SP take the Hidden Passage trail to Double Falls, then over & through the Tunnel trail, really cool tunnel to hike through, then back on the original Sheltowee Trace. I just returned from the Park & I parked at the end of Duncan Hollow Road (drive through Band creek CG) & I hiked the JMT down the Station Camp then onto the Big South Fork, down stream into "No Business", up to the divide road, through Maudes Crack, through Charit Creek Lodge, down Station Camp Creek to my truck. (fyi for anyone heading down Station Camp creek from Charit, they are working on the trail aka road & graveling it all the way to the river & is not an enjoyable hike at this time.

10-20-2021, 13:56
Standing Indian Loop. In NC just west of Franklin. Lots of primitive camping along the forest service road right next to the Nantahala River which serves as a great base camping area. Several access points to the AT. Using the Kimsey Creek and Long Branch Trails, you can do a 24 mile loop hike.