When we take the time to relax beside the roaring waters of an Appalachian stream, something incredible happens to our psyche. The roaring thunder of the water drowns out all the worries and doubts you carried from “real life.” The continual flow of a mountain stream ignites an innate sense of oneness with our surroundings and reminds us that time marches on.
What Makes It Great
On the Northern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a stream rambles in perpetuity from the balsam covered mountains above until reaching its confluence with the mighty Pigeon River below. The headwaters of this stream are born from some of the highest peaks in the park: Mt. Sterling, Big Cataloochee and Mt. Guyot. As the tributary waters rush down these steep slopes, they are purified by the lush flora of the Smokies before combining their efforts into what is known as Big Creek.
The Big Creek Campground is peacefully located right beside the cool, rushing waters of Big Creek. A total of 12 spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground has easily-accessible and well-maintained restrooms that also provide drinking water. All of the sites at Big Creek Campground are considered walk-in, meaning you will have to leave your car in the parking lot and walk a short distance to a tent-only campsite. Each site is conveniently outfitted with a leveled tent pad, charcoal grill, and picnic table. The sites are strikingly beautiful and surprisingly serene considering Big Creek’s popularity.
The true beauty of the Big Creek Campground lies in its location. From the campground parking lot, visitors have easy access to one of the area’s most popular swimming destinations, Midnight Hole, via a 1.5-mile hike up the gently graded Big Creek Trail. Baxter Creek Trail also starts from the parking area and leads to stunning views from the fire tower atop Mt.Sterling. Also within striking distance from the campground is the Chestnut Branch Trail which climbs to the famous lookout tower atop Mt. Cammerer. The bold can take their kayaks down Big Creek and families can enjoy a guided rafting trip on the nearby Pigeon River.
Who is Going to Love It
Adventurers love the location of Big Creek’s Campground for its access to hiking, fishing, and flowing whitewater. However, you don’t have to embark on an epic adventure to enjoy the serenity of this area. Families love the placid picnic settings and creekside accommodations the campground has to offer.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To reach the Big Creek Campground from Asheville, travel west on Interstate 40 to the North Carolina/Tennessee state line and take the exit 451 for Waterville. Take a left and cross over the Pigeon River via a bridge shared by the Appalachian Trail. Continue on this road until you reach a four-way stop. Go straight through this intersection and follow the signs for Big Creek Campground. Big Creek Ranger Station is located a quarter of a mile past this intersection on the right. Stop here to get more information on the area and a detailed map for a requested $1 donation.
Continue up the road for 1 mile until you reach the parking lot for the Big Creek Campground.
The Campground is open May-October and sites are $14 per night.
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