Best Tent Camping: Tennessee: Your Car-Camping Guide to Scenic Beauty, the Sounds of Nature, and an Escape from Civilization

Best Tent Camping: Tennessee: Your Car-Camping Guide to Scenic Beauty, the Sounds of Nature, and an Escape from Civilization

by Johnny Molloy

Paperback(Second Edition)

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Perfect Camping for You in Tennessee!

Well-traveled outdoor writer and native Tennessean Johnny Molloy methodically set forth into his home state, searching for campgrounds to include in this new edition of Best Tent Camping: Tennessee. Having camped the state for decades, Molloy, with over 50 outdoor guides to his credit, used his wealth of experience and scoured the entirety of Tennessee—choosing only the most pristine campgrounds that included not only a great locale for tent campers but with fun outdoors activities nearby, most as close as your tent door.

Included in this book is a rating system for the Southern Appalachian’s 50 best tent campgrounds. Certain campground attributes—beauty, site privacy, site spaciousness, quiet, security, and cleanliness/upkeep—are ranked using a star system.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781634040266
Publisher: Menasha Ridge Press
Publication date: 12/08/2015
Series: Best Tent Camping
Edition description: Second Edition
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 585,532
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Johnny Molloy is a writer and adventurer based in Johnson City, TN. He has written more than 40 books about the outdoors, including hiking guidebooks, camping guidebooks, paddling guidebooks, comprehensive guidebooks about a specific area, and true outdoor adventure books throughout the Eastern United States. Molloy writes for varied magazines and websites, and he is a columnist and feature writer for his local paper, the Johnson City Press.

Read an Excerpt

Big Hill Pond State Park
This is the most underused and underappreciated state park in West Tennessee.
Beauty: 5 stars
Privacy: 5 stars
Spaciousness: 3 stars
Quiet: 5 stars
Security: 5 stars
Cleanliness: 5 stars

11701 TN 57, Pocahontas, TN 38061
OPERATED BY: Tennessee State Parks
CONTACT: 731-645-7967;
OPEN: Year-round
EACH SITE: Picnic table, fire ring, upright grill
ASSIGNMENT: First come, first served and by reservation
REGISTRATION: Ranger will come by to register you
FACILITIES: Hot showers, water spigots; bathhouse closed November–February
PARKING: At campsites only
FEE: $13/night
On 6-foot leash only
FIRES: In fire rings only
ALCOHOL: Prohibited
VEHICLES: Maximum 2 vehicles/site
OTHER: Maximum 14-day stay

Big Hill Pond State Park is the best-kept secret in West Tennessee. The park was created in part because of its wetlands, which lie in the floodplain of the Tuscumbia River. But this park is not all about wetlands, for Big Hill Pond mostly has steep hills broken by rock outcrops hovering over sharp, wooded ravines. A walk on any of the 30 miles of trails here will testify to that. The entire trail system, with loop possibilities ideal for day hikers, is special enough to have been designated a National Recreation Trail. And when darkness comes, you will find that the campground was seemingly designed with tent campers in mind.

The 30-site campground is set on a ridge above Dismal Branch. This rolling backdrop offers vertical variation on your camping opportunities. Enter a classic campground loop shaded by tall pines, hickories, and oaks. Campsites are made level in this hilly country by landscaping timbers. The first few sites are the most open and sunny. Dense woods shade the other campsites. Smaller trees form a thick understory. Campsites are ample in size for the average tent camper and gear. Campsite privacy, while excellent, is not much of an issue, as this undiscovered getaway is rarely crowded.

As you continue around the loop, a small side road has a few pull-through sites. An intermittent streambed runs along the second half of the loop. There are more dogwoods and pines here. To complete the loop, climb past some sites that are a bit pinched in. There is a fully equipped bathhouse in the center of the loop, along with a couple of campsites. The campground is in the heart of the park, which gives it an honest sense of being in the real, natural Tennessee. Spring and fall are the more popular seasons, but even then Big Hill Pond very rarely fills.

The name Big Hill Pond comes from a dug pond that came to be in 1853, when fill was needed to complete the railroad that runs along the southern side of the park. The cypress-ringed pond is still there. Travis McNatt Lake is a more recent recreational centerpiece. Both lakes offer fishing, but Big Hill Pond is a little harder to access, whereas Travis McNatt Lake is just a short piece from the campground. Spring fed and 165 acres in size, the lake has lots of bass, bream, and catfish. Even if you don’t catch anything, the “no gas motors” lake is a pleasure to paddle in a canoe, especially in spring when the azaleas are blooming, or when autumn’s paintbrush reflects off the water.

A 30-mile trail system explores the high and the low of Big Hill Pond State Park and features a little Civil War history, such as the earthworks that were part of a guard post built by Union soldiers to protect the railroad. The highest of the high is an observation tower where there are 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside, including views far south into Mississippi, across the Tuscumbia River Valley. The lowest of the low is the 0.8-mile boardwalk traversing Dismal Swamp, a bottomland forest that attracts waterfowl and other wildlife. In between are wooded hills and surprisingly steep valleys. You may even see deer on the ridges and waterfowl in the lake or hear turkeys gobble in the far distance. The narrow paths meander over clear streams on smaller footbridges and past old homesites where subsistence farmers once eked out a living. These days you will see Mother Nature thriving here in a much richer fashion.

Getting There
From Selmer, head 7 miles south on US 45 to TN 57. Turn right and head 10 miles west on TN 57 to the Big Hill Pond entrance, which will be on your left.

GPS COORDINATES N 35° 3.885' W 88° 43.107'

Table of Contents

Tennessee Overview Map

Overview-Map Key i

Best Campgrounds vii

Acknowledgments viii

Preface ix

Introduction 1

West Tennessee 9

1 Big Hill Pond State Park 10

2 Chickasaw State Park 13

3 Fort Pillow State Park 17

4 Meeman-Shelby State Park 20

5 Natchez Trace State Park and Forest 23

8 Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park 27

7 Pickwick Landing State Park 30

Middle Tennessee 34

8 Anderson Road 35

9 Bledsoe Creek State Park 38

10 Cedars of Lebanon State Park 41

11 David Crockett State Park 44

12 Edgar Evins State Park 48

13 Fall Creek Falls State Park 51

14 Gatlin Point 54

15 Harpeth River Bridge 57

16 Henry Horton State Park 60

17 Lillydale 63

18 Meriwether Lewis Monument 66

19 Montgomery Bell State Park 69

20 Mousetail Landing State Park 72

21 Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park 75

22 Piney 78

23 Ragland Bottoms 81

24 Rock Island State Park 84

East Tennessee 87

25 Abrams Creek 88

26 Backbone Rock 91

27 Bandy Creek 94

28 Cardens Bluff 97

29 Chilhowee 100

30 Cosby 104

31 Dennis Cove 107

32 Elkmont 110

33 Franklin State Forest 113

34 Frozen Head State Park 116

35 Hiwassee-Ocoee Scenic River State Park 119

36 Holly Flats 122

37 Indian Boundary 125

38 Jake Best 128

39 Little Oak 131

40 Nolichucky Gorge 134

41 Norris Dam State Park 137

42 North River 141

43 Obed Wild and Scenic River 144

44 Old Forge 147

45 Paint Creek 150

46 Pickett State Park 153

47 Prentice Cooper State Forest 156

48 Rock Creek 159

49 Round Mountain 162

50 Sylco 165

Appendixes 169

Appendix A Camping Equipment 169

Appendix B Sources of Information 170

Index 171

About the Author 181

Map Legend Inside Back Cover

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