The Carolinas provide spectacular backdrops for some of the most scenic campgrounds in the country. But do you know which campgrounds offer the most privacy? Which are the best for first-time campers? Johnny Molloy has traversed the entire regionfrom the alluring Blue Ridge Mountains to the saltwater-washed sands of the Atlantic coastand compiled the most up-to-date research to steer you to the perfect spot! The full-color, updated, user-friendly format lets you easily find 50 of the best campgrounds to fit your travel plans and meet your personal interests, with author selections based on location, topography, size, and overall appeal.
Detailed maps of each campground and key information such as fees, restrictions, dates of operation, and facilities help to narrow down your choices, and ratings for beauty, privacy, spaciousness, safety and security, and cleanliness ensure that you find your perfect car-camping adventure. So whether you seek a quiet campground near a fish-filled stream or a family campground with all the amenities, Best Tent Camping: The Carolinas is a keeper.
About the Author
It all started on a backpacking foray into Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
That first trip, though a disaster, unleashed an innate love of the outdoors that has led to his spending more than 150 nights per year, over the past 25 years, tent camping, backpacking, and canoe camping throughout the United States and abroad. In 1987, after graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in economics, he continued to spend an ever-increasing amount of time in natural places, becoming more skilled in a variety of environments. Friends enjoyed his adventure stories; one even suggested he write a book. Soon he parlayed his love of the outdoors into an occupation.
His efforts have resulted in almost 80 books, ranging from hiking guides to paddling guides to camping guides and to true outdoor-adventure stories. His books have covered all or part of 26 states, primarily in the East. Johnny’s Carolina books include Top Trails: Great Smoky Mountains National Park; Hiking North Carolina’s National Forests; 50 Hikes in South Carolina; Best Easy Day Hikes Charleston, South Carolina; and Paddling South Carolina.
Johnny has also written numerous articles for magazines and websites. He continues to write and travel extensively to all four corners of the United States, pursuing a variety of outdoor interests. For the latest information about the author, visit johnnymolloy.com.
Read an Excerpt
Cherry Hill Campground
Beauty 5 Privacy 4 Spaciousness 5 Quiet 4 Security 4 Cleanliness 5
Cherry Hill is South Carolina’s finest Upcountry campground.
- CONTACT: Andrew Pickens Ranger District, Sumter National Forest, 864-638-9568; www.fs.usda.gov/scnfs
- OPEN: April–October
- SITES: 29
- EACH SITE HAS: Picnic table, fire pit, lantern post
- WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes
- ASSIGNMENT: First come, first served and by reservation (877-444-6777; recreation.gov)
- REGISTRATION: Self-registration
- AMENITIES: Hot showers, water, flush toilets
- PARKING: At campsites only
- FEE: $15
- ELEVATION: 2,250'
- PETS: On leash only
- FIRES: In fire pits only
- ALCOHOL: At campsites only
- OTHER: 6 people/site; 14-day stay limit
Cherry Hill Campground is the focal point for the Cherry Hill Recreation Area. And as one of the best national forest campgrounds in the Southern Appalachians, it is a fine place to be. The campground, in the shallow upper valley of West Fork Creek, lies covered with an abundant understory beneath a towering forest of hardwood and pine. Just off SC 107 is the entrance to the campground. Immediately to the left is a circular turnaround, known as the overflow area. It once was home to a settler, whose chimney still stands just off the loop; a short path leads to the ruins. Four campsites have been carved into the woods there, but you must park on the loop and carry your belongings a few feet to these sites.
The main campground lies beyond the overflow area on a short spur road that descends to tranquil West Fork Creek. Just past the self-service pay station are two sites isolated on their own miniloop. A water spigot is nearby. Three other sites are off the spur road before you reach the main loop, which makes a large oval beside the West Fork.
All the sites along the West Fork are shrouded in rhododendron and are ideal for campers who like deep, lush woods. Four relatively open sites are on the inside of the main loop and offer a generous amount of space for even the most gear-laden camper. The sites away from the West Fork back against a hill beneath more open woods. Three water spigots are situated throughout the main loop. A clean, well-kept comfort station is at the north end of the loop; it has warm showers and flush toilets. There are no electric hookups.
Near the comfort station, a small circular drive splits off the main loop. It holds four campsites with large parking areas, apparently designed for RVers, who were the only campers I saw at that spot during my visit. The circle has its own water spigot.
A campground host is stationed at Cherry Hill and keeps the place immaculate and safe. This only adds to the relaxing atmosphere of the area. Just as you get really comfortable, a notion will strike you to venture beyond your folding chair to explore more of the beauty of Sumter National Forest. And you don’t even have to leave Cherry Hill to walk some of the area trails. For starters, try Cherry Hill Nature Trail. It leaves the campground and makes a 0.5-mile loop among the ferns and brush of the white-pine forest.
Winding Stairs Trail also leaves from the campground. Follow it down as it switchbacks through an oak forest along the south side of the West Fork. This gentle switchbacking led to the Winding Stairs name. After a mile, you’ll come to Miuka Falls, as West Fork Creek has picked up some volume on its way to merge with Crane Creek. After the fall, Winding Stairs Trail veers south to Crane Creek, passing Secret Falls after 2.3 miles, then returns to West Fork only to end at 3.5 miles on Forest Service Road 710.
If you want bigger water, the Chattooga, a Wild and Scenic River, is only a stroll away on Big Bend Trail. The trail starts just across SC 107 from the campground and leads 2.7 miles west into the protected corridor of the Chattooga 0.8 mile upstream of Big Bend Falls. From there, trails lead along the river in both directions for miles. Either way you go, you’ll soon understand why this border river between South Carolina and Georgia is protected. The flora, fauna, and tumbling white water are yours to appreciate. The fishing’s good too.
Cherry Hill is a great campground in an attractive forest setting. Get all your supplies back in Walhalla because, once you’re at Cherry Hill, you won’t want to spoil your vacation with an early return to civilization.
From I-85, take Exit 1, and head north on SC 11. Go 19.7 miles, and turn left on SC 28. Go 9.4 miles to SC 107; then turn right. Follow SC 107 for 8.5 miles. The entrance to Cherry Hill Campground will be on your right.
GPS COORDINATES: N34° 56.560' W83° 05.280'
Table of ContentsNorth Carolina Campground Overview Map
South Carolina Campground Overview Map
NORTH CAROLINA MOUNTAINS
- Balsam Mountain Campground
- Big Creek Campground
- Cable Cove Campground
- Cataloochee Campground
- Doughton Park Campground
- Julian Price Park Campground
- Lake James State Park Campgrounds
- Lake Powhatan Campground
- Linville Falls Campground
- Mount Mitchell State Park Campground
- Mount Pisgah Campground
- New River State Park: Wagoner Access Campground
- North Mills River Campground
- Rocky Bluff Campground
- Smokemont Campground
- South Mountains State Park Campground
- Standing Indian Campground
- Sunburst Campground
- Tsali Campground
NORTH CAROLINA PIEDMONT
- Badin Lake Campground
- Hanging Rock State Park Campground
- Lake Norman State Park Campground
- Morrow Mountain State Park Campground
- Pilot Mountain State Park Campground
NORTH CAROLINA COAST AND COASTAL PLAIN
- Carolina Beach State Park Campground
- Cliffs of the Neuse State Park Campground
- Frisco Campground
- Goose Creek State Park Campground
- Jones Lake State Park Campground
- Lumber River State Park: Princess Ann Access Campground
- Merchants Millpond State Park Campground
- Neuse River Campground (Flanners Beach)
- Ocracoke Campground
SOUTH CAROLINA UPCOUNTRY
- Cherry Hill Campground
- Devils Fork State Park Campground
- Jones Gap State Park Campground
- Keowee–Toxaway State Park Campground
- Table Rock State Park Campgrounds
SOUTH CAROLINA MIDLANDS
- Brick House Campground
- Calhoun Falls State Park Campground
- Kings Mountain State Park Campground
- LeRoys Ferry Campground
- Lick Fork Lake Campground
- Parsons Mountain Lake Campground
- Poinsett State Park Campground
- Sand Hills State Forest Campground
- Woods Ferry Campground
SOUTH CAROLINA LOWCOUNTRY
- Honey Hill Campground
- Huntington Beach State Park Campgrounds
- Little Pee Dee State Park Campground
APPENDIX A: CAMPING EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST
APPENDIX B: SOURCES OF INFORMATION
ABOUT THE AUTHOR