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North River Campground, Tellico Plains, Tennessee

Submitted by Barry D. Jennings

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

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Barry - I found this campground in a US Forestry Service brochure, and I RV camped there in October 2003.

Campground Review

The Southern Appalachian mountains are very dear to my heart, and of all the places we visit in them Tellico is my favorite. When I say Tellico I mean the Tellico Ranger District of the Cherokee National Forest, just outside of Tellico Plains, Tennessee. Just 30 or so miles due south of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this region has much of the same topography, flora, and fauna found there without the crowds.

Located 15 or so miles back up in the mountains on the North River is McNabb Creek campground, an 11-site US Forestry Service campground. Considered primitive by most, what this campground lacks in amenities it more than makes up for with charm. It's situated in a remote mountain cove where the bubbling and gurgling waters of the North River gently flow past the edge of the campground. The unhurried peacefulness of the area automatically seeps through you upon your arrival helping you to relax and unwind.

The campground is well-maintained, yet rarely full. Unlike a lot of mountain campgrounds, McNabb Creek is open with just the right amount of shade trees and surrounded by towering hardwood ridges. The campsites are graveled and level with adequate room between each site to provide plenty of privacy. Each site has the basics like a concrete picnic table, fire ring, and lamp post, with about half of them bordering the river.

With no electricity or piped-water available the facilities are limited to vault toilets, and there are no showers or sinks available. The bright spot though is that the USFS maintains them daily, keeping them clean and acceptable. Potable water is available from a hand-pumped well, but I suggest that you take your own drinking water.

Please remember that this campground is in an area that black bears call home. It's the law that campers take precautions to prevent bears from gaining access to human food. Be advised that the USFS enforces this regulation. Also, plan well. Take what you'll need with you. The campground is 3 miles off the main road and about 20-25 minutes away from Tellico Plains.
Ice and limited supplies can be purchased from one of the seasonal stores, in Green Cove, which is on up the main road. Nearby attractions only add to the appeal of staying at this campground. There's trout fishing throughout the area, with the Tellico River and North River being some of the best. There's also the Cherohala Skyway, a two-lane scenic byway that winds along the crest of the Unicoi Mountains towards Robbinsville, NC, and the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, where you can wander amid a stand of virgin hardwood trees. Both are a must-see. The real appeal of camping here is the deep fragrant smell of the mountains, the soothing sounds of a mountain stream, sitting by a warm campfire, sipping a cup of coffee or hot chocolate while watching the coals glow and pop, looking up at the stars, which are unbelievably clear with no other lights around except for those of campfires and lanterns, and the smell of bacon frying and coffee perking in the crispness of a new morning. These are some of the things that come to mind when I think of Tellico and the McNabb Creek campground. Our family has a lot of fond memories of trips over the years to this simple yet wonderful place to camp.
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