Cherokee National Forest announces schedule for area recreation sites

Published 2:17 pm Thursday, March 9, 2023

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USDA Forest Service officials have announced the 2023 operating dates for recreation sites in the Cherokee National Forest.
The Cherokee National Forest, covering 650,000 acres, offers a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities and seasonal experiences for the over 2 million yearly visitors it welcomes to the Southern Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee.
Most developed day-use recreation sites providing visitor access to trails, rivers, lakes, remote backcountry and target shooting areas, as well as several campgrounds without developed water systems or entrance gates, remain open throughout the year. Highly developed campgrounds and swim areas are routinely closed and winterized from late-fall through mid-spring in response to low visitation, reduced seasonal workforce, and freezing temperatures that damage water and wastewater systems.
Many campsites in developed campgrounds are available on a first come-first served basis, but some can be reserved in advance. National Forest visitors can go online to the website and select the name of the facility they wish to reserve or call the reservation service at 1-877-444-6777.
As the Forest Service shifts to a more sustainable recreation program, it must meet the reality of increasing deferred maintenance (maintenance backlog) and operational costs. Visitors will see projects across the National Forest to reduce deferred maintenance, as well as investments to improve well-loved sites. Site operating schedules may change as projects move forward.
Following is the scheduled 2023 opening dates for Cherokee National Forest sites in the local area. Shooting ranges and most boat launches are open year-round.
Little Oak Campground
Hemlock & Poplar Loops – April 24 – October 10
Big Oak & Lone Pine Loops & Boat Ramp – April 24 – October 10
Primitive Camping Only (no flush toilets) – April 4 – April 23; October 10 – November 6
Jacobs Creek Campground & Day Use Area – April 24 – October 10
Backbone Rock Recreation Area:
Day Use Area (Pavilions) – March 20 – November 20
Campground – April 24 – October 10
Cardens Bluff Campground – April 24 – October 10
Dennis Cove Campground – April 24 – October 10
Shook Branch Swim Area – May 8 – September 11
Watauga Point Recreation Area – April 3 – October 10
Carvers Gap Trailhead (Vault Toilet) – March 20 – November 20
Laurels Picnic Area (Pavilions)- March 20 – October 10

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