Cosby Campground Review - Away from the crowds

Great Smokey Mountain National Park

Unfortunately one of our favorite spots in the world is also one of the world’s favorite spots.  I am talking about Great Smokey Mountain National Park which is but a day or two away from New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and other points east.  The park is beautiful in the fog, magical at twilight, and crowded whenever.  Car jams aplenty, crowded trails, and do not even think of going to Cades Cove on a weekend afternoon.  But there is a place on the periphery of this madness that is hardly ever too crowded.  Cosby Campground.  While other campgrounds fill up every night, our family was only one of two families in the entire campground loop the last time we camped there.  This other family had a camper so we actually had the whole bathroom to ourselves (modern plumbing, no showers).  Even better, the bathroom was cleaned every afternoon.  This was maybe the nicest, most hygienic campground experience I have had in my 13 or so years of car camping.  That trip I also woke each morning to a mother Turkey leading her charges around the campground.  This was decidedly better than what was described to us by the campground host.  A few days prior to our visit a camper left out a bag of dog food.  This of course attracted a black bear that then ate his fill of Purina.  Luckily he did not eat the dog.

Morning visitor

There are no shortages of trails leading from the Cosby Campground.  We enjoy the small (maybe a mile at the most) nature trail which crosses and re-crosses a stream over small bridges and wide logs.  Other hikes extend miles into the park in search of waterfalls and vantage points.  Our favorite hike leads to Hen Wallow Falls which is, in fact, named after our daughter Henna (not really).  There are also several backcountry campsites you can hike into and a small graveyard near the entrance of the campground is  worth exploring.

Hen Wallow Falls

At the campground and/ or at the trailheads, expect enough people there so that you will not get too nervous (regardless of the bear incident described above, your chances of running into a bear at the campground are slim).  Conversations with the campground host indicated that the campground often fills up on July 4th, but will otherwise have sites available even on the weekend.  There is also a small private campground adjacent to the entrance that has a small above ground pool and store as well as several cabins for rent in the immediate area.  So come, enjoy the peace, the quiet, and the hiking.  Just please do not tell anyone about the place.  I do not want it to get too popular.

Along the short nature trail

How to get there:  From Knoxville, you continue on I40 to exit 440.  This route avoids Gatlinburg as well as many wax museums, water slides, and Christmas themed stores.  Once turning off the highway, prepare for a windy, up and down road with a lot of confusing signs that sort of lead to the campground.  In the mountains GPS sometimes helps, but has also been known to confuse the situation. 

For other travel adventures click on the link below

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