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Cherokee National Forest – Chilhowee Recreation Area – Camping

2017 01 CherokeeNationalForestTN Overlook


The Cherokee National Forest is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Tennessee, and when it comes to staying overnight, camping at the Chilhowee Recreation Area is the way to go. There are more than 70 campsites available: some can be reserved, but some are always first-come, first-served, so there’s typically space for everyone. There are 16 sites that are open during the off-season, but facilities are limited.

What Makes It Great

Chilhowee Recreation Area has nearly 25 miles of hiking and biking trails through the Cherokee National Forest, leading to overlooks that’ll give you unprecedented views of the surrounding landscape. One of the can’t-miss spots in the whole place is the waterfall on the Benton Falls Trail—a stunning 65-foot drop along an easy three-mile roundtrip hike. The recreation area is also home to the seven-acre McKamy Lake that’s perfect for splashing around, fishing, or just some relaxing beach time between hikes. With so many things to do near the campground, you’ll never have to worry about how to spend your day.

Speaking of not having to worry, the recreation area offers a lengthy list of amenities: wheelchair-accessible sites, picnic areas, showers, drinking water stations scattered throughout, group sites, and flush toilets. There’s even a dump station available so you don’t have to hassle with RV maintenance on the road.

One of the best things about camping at Chilhowee is the variety of camping choices that are available to suit anyone’s needs. Loops A and B have electric hookups for campers that need a charge while they’re in the great outdoors or RVs looking to get fancy, and Loops A, B, E, and F are available for reservations if you feel so inclined.

Who is Going to Love It

Anyone who loves spending time in the beautiful outdoors will enjoy camping at Chilhowee Recreation Area. The variety of accommodations and facilities in the area make it ideal for campers of any style: you can make the experience incredibly rustic or have a glamping excursion in the forest. Hiking, biking, swimming, and fishing abound as well, so even lukewarm campers will enjoy their time in Chilhowee.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From the intersection of Highway 64 and 411, go east for seven miles onto Forest Road 77, continue for 7.5 miles until you reach the entrance sign where you’ll turn right to enter.

Written by Cinnamon Janzer for RootsRated in partnership with BCBS of Tennessee.

Featured image provided by US Forest Service-Southern Region

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