Camping at the 16 backcountry campsites is by permit only, only in the designated named campsite areas. In campsites where campfires are permitted, those sites have established fire rings. Please do not move a fire ring or build new ones. Build fires with dead, downed wood; no cutting of any trees, dead or living. Whiskey Still and Grindstone Gap have little if any water nearby during warmer months. Be very cautious if you have a campfire at those two and drown all campfires with at least five gallons of water. Sassafras Hill campsite usually does not have nearby water so the FDR State Park manager has designated it a dry camp: no campfires permitted there at all unless the park office tells you upon arrival (otherwise, stoves only).
Park rules state no alcohol consumption at all in the park except inside rental cabins, so no drinking at all in the backcountry and at picnic areas. No axes, machetes, or large knives are allowed in the backcountry. Pack out all your trash and help by taking out any left by others. If you come to a campsite and find trash in the fire ring or camp or a smoldering fire, contact the park office right away.
Little Bridges Campsite
This campsite is located on the Chestnut Oak Trail section just off the main PMT. You can get to this site from the west end of the Chestnut Oak Trail by parking at the Gardens Country Store, hiking up Ga 190 a short ways to the rock wall entrance way of FDR State Park on the left. The Pine Mountain Trail sign is on the south side of the road on the right. Look for a sign for the Chestnut Oak Trail on your left. Hike the Chestnut Oak Trail east 1.7 miles to the campsite. (The entire Chestnut Oak Trail is 2.1 miles long.)
If you are hiking from Mile 1.4 of the Pine Mountain Trail at the Garden Overlook Parking Area, you cross GA 190 to the north. Just after you cross the road, there is a junction with the Chestnut Oak Trail that goes to your left (west). Little Bridges campsite is located just down the mountain .4 mile from this junction. Large hardwoods are all around this beautiful camp. This camp was built to allow backpackers a close first or last night's camp. The distance to GA 190 will make it a good choice for first time backpackers or those with younger campers. There is a nice year-round spring beside the camp entrance that runs under a little bridge.
Dead Pine Campsite
This is the first site from the west end of the main PMT. The site is located past Mile 2 about .4 mile. You can also hike to the campsite from "No Name Parking Lot" which is only about a one half mile hike. The water source is from a spring the PMT crosses just west of the entrance to the campsite. Dead Pine has two fire rings.
Broken Tree Campsite
This campsite is located 1.6 miles east from the FDR Park Office on the main PMT. If you park at Fox Den Cove Parking Lot, cross GA 190 and follow the PMT back to the west. Broken Tree campsite is .6 mile west of Mile 6. From the Park Office, if you hike east you cross paved roads twice before you reach the camp near Mile 5. The camp is on south side of the trail (heading east) in a small bottom just before you start back uphill. There is wooden sign on your right. This is a small camp for three tents at the most. There is one fire ring. In winter this is a warm camp, as a hill north of it should block the wind. There is an ample supply of downed, dead wood for campfires. There is a year-round spring on the edge of the camp.
Grindstone Gap Campsite
Of the sixteen backcountry campsites, fourteen are located on the main Pine Mountain Trail. Grindstone Gap is located on the white-blazed Sawtooth Trail (Little Bridges is on the Chestnut Oak Trail). To get to Grindstone Gap, you can go west on the PMT (south of HWY 190) from Fox Den Cove Parking Lot and then east on the Sawtooth Trail about 1.9 miles. From Mollyhugger Hill Parking Lot go across GA 190 to the south and onto the PMT just a short ways, then right (west) on the Sawtooth Trail about .8 of a mile. Grindstone is located in a bottom, off the trail to the south in a rather flat area. Water is not reliable recently in warmer months but is ok till summer. Late May till rains of falls, consider this a dry camp.
Turtle Hollow Campsite
Established May 2012, Turtle Hollow is a large group size camp with a 2-tent sub-camp, Turtle Bluff. The start of the access trail to Turtle Hollow campsite is 1.4 miles east of Fox Den Cove Parking Lot on the Pine Mountain Trail. From Molly Hugger Hill Parking Lot it is about 3.6 miles west. The main camp can accommodate a large group of backpackers (12-15 tents or around 30+ backpackers).
For 1-4 people with 2 tents max use Turtle Bluff. This small sub-camp overlooks the spring stream below. There is room for only two tents and there is an established fire ring there. Even if there is a group staying at the main Turtle Hollow campsite, Turtle Bluff is across the spring and up the hill enough to offer “privacy” for backpackers away from a group at the main campsite. Download the PDF for photos, descriptions, and map sections for Turtle Hollow.
Big Knot Campsite
From Fox Den Cove parking lot, go east on the PMT (north of Hwy 190 away from the parking lot). The hike to Big Knot takes you past a large rock cliff near Indian Mountain. Down the slope away from the top of the mountain, the trail views to the west are spectacular. The trail crosses a small wooden bridge just before an uphill climb and trail to the right for the site. Mile 8 is just past the site sign. The site is on small ridge with three fire rings to choose from. Water, in a clear spring, is located just at the bottom of the ridge to the east of the site about 100 yds or so.
Jenkins Spring Campsite
Established October 2008, is .3 miles east of Mile 8. From Fox Den Cove Parking Lot, hike east 2.1 miles. You will cross a small spring with bamboo on your right. The access trail is just beyond on your left. From Mollyhugger Hill Parking Lot, hike west 2.8 miles. The access trail will be on your right. Follow the white-blazed access trail across a small bridge to the site. Water source is marked with a sign in the northwest corner of camp. The boundary of FDR State Park is approximately 200 yards north of the campsite. This is private property. Please note the marks on the trees and stay within the park. There are two fire-rings.
Whiskey Still Campsite
If you park at Mollyhugger Hill Parking Lot and cross the road (south of Hwy 190) you are going east on the trail down the mountain. About .4 mile in you come to large rock and a sign on the right. Follow the site trail to the three tent sites on the hillside. This site was reworked in 1998-1999 as an Eagle Scout project. In 2001, Scouts reworked the access trail. There are only three tent sites and small fire rings. There is one larger fire ring just below the three tent sites with a nice sitting area. Water: It is a 1/4 mile down a marked water trail to a small spring southwest of the site. Note: There is still some evidence of a forest fire north and west of the campsite. It was burned in the spring of 2010 (campers left a smoldering fire that caught up and burned 15 surrounding acres.)
Relocated January 2014: Bethel Creek Campsite
The new campsite location, somewhat smaller than the old one, will accommodate at most 5 tents. The site is 737 feet west of the BootTop Trail/Pine Mountain Trail intersection. Water source is a year round spring head just 140' west of the campsite (just 27' off the trail.). There is only one fire-ring authorized here (like all PMT backcountry campsites, please don't add fire-rings or move them). There is a lot of downed wood near the new site, and with water nearby campfires are permitted at present time. Download a full description with photos. NOTE: on the PMTA map (2013 and older editions) the site is shown west of Mile 13. Old Bethel Creek campsite now has an engraved sign there noting it is closed (no camping or fires there.) It was located 1710' west of Mile 13. New site is 2,310’ east of old location, east of Mile 13 .
Brown Dog Campsite
Built in 1998 and is north of the trail just west of Mile 16 just east of the small waterfall near Brown Dog Bluff. Uphill past the entrance sign about 80 yards you find a nice flat area and three fire rings. There is ample wood all around the site. To get to Brown Dog campsite you can hike in from the Dowdell Knob area east about 1.5 miles or park at Rocky Point Parking Lot and hike in west about 2.1 miles. You can also hike in from the Dowdell Knob Road BootTop Trail Parking Are then hike the BootTop Trail to the east end of it, then west on the PMT to just past Mile 16. The water source is the spring and waterfall mentioned above.
Sparks Creek Campsite
Located in a bottom alongside Sparks Creek just west of Mile 17 about .2 mile. To get there go east of Dowdell Knob about two miles, or west of Rocky Point Parking Lot just over a mile in. The hike from Rocky Point in is the best, as the trail comes down through the cliffs at Rocky Point and it is down hill all the way. Just west of Mile 17 the trail turns left and you cross Sparks Creek on stepping stones and the trail continues along the stream to the sign marking the campsite and a small wooden bridge. Cross the bridge and turn right and you will see three fire rings along the stream.
Big Oak Springs Campsite
Established May 2012. The access trail to Big Oak Springs campsite, starts off the Pine Mountain Trail about .8 of a mile west of Rocky Point Parking Lot. If you are coming east from say Dowdell Knob it is just about 500’ east of the PMT Mile 17 marker (which is east of nearby Sparks Creek campsite). This campsite is like most other PMT campsites, designed for around 15 people/ 8 tents. Follow the white blazed access trail off the PMT 495’ down to the main part of the camp and the one established fire ring. The water source for the camp is further down the access trail just 250’ to a beautiful spring head. Across the spring stream is evidence of two “whiskey stills.” Above the spring you will see a HUGE white oak tree, hence the name Big Oak Springs. Download the PDF for photos, descriptions, and map sections of Big Oak Springs.
Sassafras Hill Campsite
Most hike to the site starting in from the WJSP-TV tower and heading west on the trail some 4.6 miles to the site. You can also take an easy hike in from Rocky Point Parking Lot (cross Ga. 190 from the parking lot) and head east some .4 of a mile. West, just before the site is small wooden bridge that you cross and continue uphill on the blue-blazed PMT to the site on the left. The site is located on a flat hill top. This is a large site and was a favorite of scout units in the past but be aware it is NOT suggested for group use now as there is no water reliable at the present time west and east of the site for the last couple years (only some runoff water after a rain at times). Since Sassafras Hill has NO reliable water nearby it is now designated by the FDR park manager as a dry camp and NO campfires allowed there at all unless you are told otherwise upon arrival to obtain your backcountry permit (careful use of stoves only there for now). There are signs in the former fire ring areas warning of no campfires.
Old Sawmill Campsite
Most people hike in to this large site from the WJSP-TV tower parking lot (about 2.7 miles) The hike in to Old Sawmill is one of the most scenic, with lots of varied hiking over water crossings and hills, past cliffs and waterfalls including Cascade Falls. At current time, there is not a lot of dead downed firewood for campfires at/near the camp. The site has ample water from a good sized stream near the entrance to the camp right by the trail.
Bumble Bee Ridge Campsite
Most people hike in to this site from the WJSP-TV tower end of the trail. The site is located at the end of a nice uphill climb just past Slippery Rock Falls, about 1.5 miles in from the WJSP-TV tower parking lot. The site has some large pine trees as cover. Water source is back down the trail at the bottom of the hill east of the camp. Please stay on the marked blue-blazed trail in and near the campsite area when going for water.
Note: if you have a campfire, be prepared to haul at least five gallons of water up the hill to put out the fire. Remember, if you have a fire at night and not in the morning you still need to drown the smoldering ashes. PMTA members have found way too many smoldering campfires at this camp.