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  1. #1
    Senior Member bwg's Avatar
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    Primitive camping suggestions (Linville Gorge?)

    Hi --

    I'm looking for primitive hiking/camping suggestions for a weekend in October for several adults and their boys (ages 7 to 13). We've hiked and camped in Shining Rock Wilderness and Panthertown several times over the past few years, so we are looking for something new to try.

    Is Linville Gorge a good option for us? Is a group size of about 12 too many? Permits possible early Saturday morning or late Friday night (or can they be had via mail)? Given our fitness levels and ages, we tend to hike no more than about 3 miles per day -- given this, can you recommend a route/loop/trail for 3 nights/2 full days?

    Any other wilderness areas or national forest areas (NC, SC, or GA) you would suggest we try? Areas with creeks are always fun for our group. I've considered the GSNP, but it seems camping areas are usually about 6 miles apart which is a bit far for our group.

    Thanks,
    Bryan

  2. #2
    Senior Member tasthree's Avatar
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    Look at Standing Indian west of Franklin NC. Small waterfalls and Wasilik Poplar tree to hike to. Nantahala River starts there. Creeks for the boys to play in. The AT runs thru it. Lots of other trails to loop on. Hit up FatBuddies for their BBQ ribs.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member mtncmpr's Avatar
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    bwg,

    Check out Ken's site at http://www.linvillegorge.net/
    Loads of Linville Gorge info/maps/loops/etc... You don't have to register, but if you do, you'll pretty much have full access to the site.

    I would be very careful with that age group especially around the cliff areas and while in the gorge. If one of them got lost (especially IN the gorge) it could be a nightmare situation. If you have enough adult supervision for the number of kids you'd have on the trip, then there are some good MAIN trails to hike and campsites to use but I wouldn't take my eyes off any in that age group.

    Just My Opinion,
    Glen

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  4. #4
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    www.linvillegorge.net has a loop hike page.

    The one I would suggest is Pinch In, LGT north, Conley Cove, and Rockjock. There is about 1/4 mile of road walking between where RJ comes out and Pinch In trail head. Unfortunately its more like 9 miles long. Gorge miles are longer than normal miles too.

    Your slower hikers could wait at the road (its about 100 yards from RJ shortly after the turn onto RJ off of Conley- turn right at campfire circle- uphill to road). Your faster hikers could either take RJ or the road (over Dogback mtn) to the car. You could pre-ferry a vehicle north to Conley Cove Parking lot, and just follow Conley out to the road. That would get you down to about 5-6 miles

    Vehicles on the road (105 - Kistler) need good ground clearance.

    mtncmpr makes good points about the cliffs and there are some on RJ, Pinch In goes down a narrow ridge (in places) meaning outstanding views, but danger. Its also steeper than most trails. Conley is a long sustained uphill, but reasonably sloped.

    Campsites: Bring water and camp near the Pinch In trail head- plenty of trees. Once you start down the trail there will be camping just before the cliffs (1/3 mile). Few to no trees due to fire several years ago. The trees end just before you get there.

    At the bottom of Pinch In you will cross three streams hiking north along LGT. At the third one there is a fire ring, a slight path to the river on the right. Camping possibilities will be good from the bottom of Pinch In up to and just beyond this point.

    Then the possibilities get scarce for a couple miles as the gorge narrows. When camping sites start getting numerous again (there are plenty), you are approaching Conley. Its marked with a sign, and several trees are down just beyond the turn.

    No camping to speak of along Conley, some people have camped in and near the caves (which are off the trail and you have to know where to turn to find them).

    RJ is a fairly recently re-established trail with some but few camping possibilities. Mostly you have to get off the trail looking for flat ground. Compared to the sites on LGT it will seem like none. Trees are along RJ until about the halfway point then they get scarce.

    The last half mile of RJ gains 600' of elevation heading just about due west up the mountain.

  5. #5
    Ken's Avatar
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    I heard from Salty this morning. He reported that the spring just south of Conley was dry over the weekend. This may be the case for most of them until significant rain falls. Water is iffy in Linville this time of year, except for the river.

    Ken
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  6. #6
    Senior Member bwg's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies. Given the caution and description offered, I think Linville will be scratched for this year.

    Thanks also for the Standing Indian suggestion - I'll study that area.

    Any other areas like Shining Rock or Panthertown in NC, SC, or GA?

  7. #7
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    I would recommend something along the GA/SC border on the Chatooga River. Park at Burrell's Ford and hike north along the Chatooga and find a place to base camp. There are plenty of options for a group your size about an hour in. Set up camp there and do day hikes of 3-5 miles if you feel up to it. I've attached a screenshot from my GPS of that area.
    The purple line is the Foothills Trail from Sloan's Bridge to Burrell's Ford. White and green are sections of the Fork Mountain Trail, 12 miles total.
    Campsites look like this and most of them have rock fire rings.


    Option 2-Start at the Fish Hatchery, hike down to the Chatooga and back, over three days.

    Option 3- Our troop had a favorite 10 mile hike. Start at the Sloan's Bridge picnic area and hike east along the Foothills Trail to Whitewater Falls and back. There are some beautiful views of the Bad Creek Reservoir near Lake Jocassee and of course Whitewater Falls.

    Option 4- Jones Gap State Park
    They have a couple of group sites about 3 miles from the trailhead. The trail follows the Middle Saluda River most of the way. You'll pass the Jones Gap Falls on the way in.


    Again, I would set up a base camp and hike to Rainbow Falls and all along the river, then back to camp.

    Good luck and happy hanging.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member carolinasbackpacker's Avatar
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    another option along the chatooga river is to either start at the ridley fields parkng area and hike back up to burrells ford of vise versa. that is around 13 and a half miles. You could also add on the west fork trail of the chatooga river which would take you to the fish hatchery. I believe that would add about 5 more miles. That is one of my favorite places for a quick trip. Only a couple hours from me.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member bwg's Avatar
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    Hi Guys --

    Thanks much for the Chattooga River suggestion. I've been studying this area for about an hour now -- looking at maps and images -- and it does look like a very nice place to camp and hike.

    As noted, we currently are about a 3 mile per day group, but Friday and Monday should be shorter, maybe 1 to 2 miles max, so this gives us about 9 to 11 miles of hiking for Friday to Monday. If you have loop suggestions or spots where we could split parked cars and hike from one parking area to another that is about 10 miles in distance, that would be great.

    Again, thanks all for the helpful suggestions!

  10. #10
    swampfox's Avatar
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    Here is a trip report from that area.
    http://www.yourhikes.com/HikePages/H...spx?HikeID=997

    It would probably be a little difficult for the smaller ones to do all of this but you could just do the white section on the GPS map I posted above.

    Day one-Either start at Burrell's Ford or the Fish Hatchery and hike down to the point where the East Fork breaks off from the Chatooga. There is a bridge that crosses the East Fork and several great sites just before you cross the bridge.
    Day two hike to the end of the white trail. There is a large campsite right there.
    Day three, hike back toward the first campsite, and on the last day hike out. Make sure you take the spur trail to Spoonauger Falls. It's only .1 mile off the trail. Total would be very near ten miles and since it parallels the river, it's an easy hike.
    To avoid the climb back UP to the Fish Hatchery, park one car there to start and another at Burrell's Ford to end.
    All of the tents you see on that screen shot are actual campsites that I liked. I have the GPS coordinates if you're interested.
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