View Full Version : Big Creek Campground

01-14-2013, 11:17
Hi all!

As I have previously posted, I am planning to hike the GSMNP on the Benton-MacKaye trail, SOBO.

In setting up my shuttle ride from Fontana to the Northern Terminus of the BMT, I figured I would get up there in the late afternoon and camp at Big Creek Campground, thereby allowing for an early start the next day and plenty of time to get to Laurel Gap Shelter (13.8 miles) on the first day of hiking.

My problem: Big Creek Campground does not open until April 1 this year and I am starting on March 28.

Does anyone know if there are places to camp (legally) within hiking distance of the BMT trailhead?



01-14-2013, 13:01
Sleep in the truck in the parking lot..

01-14-2013, 13:03
Sleep in the truck in the parking lot..

Problem with that is that the truck will be down at Fontana (we are hiking to it) and there are four of us.

01-14-2013, 13:39
Yeah I just read that after I posted previously

SGT Rock
01-14-2013, 15:04
You could camp on the AT but it would mean more walking in the morning. If you did that your three options are as follows:

Option 1: Get dropped off at Davenport gap and hike the 1 mile up to Davenport Gap shelter. You can camp there, and from that point you will have either a 3.1 mile hike which is mostly downhill road walk to get to the start of the BMT or a 3.8 mile walk which is 1 mile sobo on the AT to Chestnut Branch Trail and then 2.8 downhill to the start of the BMT.

Option 2: There is a campsite on the AT which is 0.2 south of Waterville Road which is pretty good. To get there you go south on the AT from the point where it joins Waterville Road just before it crosses the 2 lane bridge across the Rigeon River. The best route from here is a nice road walk which is 2.9 miles to the start of the BMT for 3.1 miles total. It is probably the easiest walk to get to the terminus and it walks down Waterville Road most of the way to the terminus.

Option 3: Stay at Standing Bear Hostel the night before you start. From there the walk would be much further (I'd have to look it up) but total mileage from Standing Bear to Laurel Gap Shelter is something like 16.5 miles as I recall from when I walked it nobo. 16.5 miles may be a little bit more than you want to walk on your first day on the trail considering it also includes a 6 mile climb up Sterling. You might get a ride from the hostel to the BMT in the morning for your start, but I wouldn't count on getting one early in the morning.

Your fourth option is to stealth camp somewhere on the BMT on your first night.

01-14-2013, 15:48
i think (i'm giong on memory from being there last year) that there's a private horse camp area located at the intersection (at highway 73 ii believe) right at the entrance going into big creek.

SGT Rock
01-14-2013, 16:02
There is something there but I have no info on it.

01-14-2013, 16:14
Thanks, Rock. I have reached out to SBH. Their website does say "free shuttle with lodging." I don't mind buying a night in a cabin or bunkhouse if I can be hiking by around 9.

SGT Rock
01-14-2013, 16:28
Make sure you can do that. I don't remember Curtis as an early riser LOL.