Backcountry Campsites

Below is a description of 16 designated campsites along the trails. Camping is by permit only and 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 size 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 about 5 gallons of water. Sassafras Hill Campsite does not have any water nearby most of the year and the FDR State Park manager has designated it a dry camp and NO CAMPFIRES permitted there at all unless they tell you upon arrival to park (otherwise stoves only there).

Park rules state NO alcohol consumption at all in the park except inside rental cabins, so no drinking period in the backcountry and at picnic areas. No axes, large knives and machetes are allowed in the backcountry too. Pack out all your trash and help by taking out any left by others. NOTE: if you come to a campsite and find trash in the fire ring/camp or a smoldering fire, contact the park office right away to inform the manager/ranger on duty (send them photos and help by cleaning up trash). If you leave a campsite with trash, you as the last permitted person there can be cited.

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 Hwy 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 east 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.

From "No Name Parking Lot" there is a sign directing one to the Pine Mountain Trail via a dirt road off/away from the parking lot. Hiking this road a short ways you will pass the red blazed Mountain Creek Trail (which crosses the road) and you continue on up hill until you see the wooden Pine Mountain Trail directional sign. Turn right (west) there onto the blue blazed PMT. You will pass over the dam of the large CCC Hatchery Pond and continue on until you see the campsite sign. Campsite will be on your right. 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 GA 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). There is only ONE fire ring here.

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 one established fire ring. 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.

Check out Turtle Hollow and Big Oak! Download the PDF for photos, descriptions, and map sections of these campsites.

Big Knot Campsite
From Fox Den Cove parking lot, go east on the PMT (north of GA 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 yards 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.

Beech Bottom Campsite
Just to the east of the Mile 9 marker the trail runs alongside a stream and makes a slight turn uphill (east) and the campsite location sign is on the north side (left) of the trail. This well used site is moved (relocated) from east to west side (and back) of the water every couple years to keep compaction down. Be aware the old locations are not to be used (there are signs noting which is the current authorized site and old site area closed). There is 12’ bridge over the water on the path leading off the PMT to the current site on west side of the creek. If you leave Molly Hugger Hill Parking Lot and go west on the trail, you have about a two mile hike in. You go down and up several times with some pretty good switch-backs west of Mile 10. The site is a flat cleared area under tree cover. Be aware of the signs at the back (north side) of the site that mark the boundary of FDR State Park, the pines there are private property. There are two established fire rings at the camp. The water source for the site can be counted on all year long.

Whiskey Still Campsite
If you park at Mollyhugger Hill Parking Lot and cross the road (south of GA 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 original Bethel Creek Campsite location was wiped out in the 2011 tornado that hit FDR State Park. The original site could not be maintained (nor had any tree cover). So the site was moved in name to a new campsite location, somewhat smaller than the old one, but will accommodate 5 tents at most. The new site is 737 feet west of the BootTop Trail/Pine Mountain Trail intersection, and is 2,310' east of old location (600' east of Mile 13). 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 old site was/is shown west of Mile 13. Old Bethel Creek Campsite now has an engraved sign there by the trail noting it is closed (no camping or fires there). It was located 1,710' west of Mile 13. On the 2015 map the new campsite location is named and arrow pointing toward the current location and a tent symbol. Where the old campsite was, there on the 2015 map (by mistake) is a unnamed tent symbol. This mistake is NOT on the large display map in the park office or at Dowdell Knob Trailhead kiosk display map.

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.

Relocated May 2014: Sparks Creek Campsite
Is now located in a bottom on the west side of Sparks Creek just across the creek from the previous site (just west of Mile 17 about .2 mile.) The hike from Rocky Point in is the best (about 1.3 miles) as the trail comes down through the cliffs at Rocky Point and it is downhill 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 a short ways then uphill about 100 yards to the signs marking the campsite (on your left.) Take the short access trail downhill from there to the site. The new site location only has two fire rings and is somewhat smaller than the old location. Watch for signs showing boundary of this site and noting the closure of the old site. Alternate directions: Go east on the PMT from Dowdell Knob, past Brown Dog Campsite about a mile. (NOTE: there was a bridge you crossed to get to the old site that has been removed. New access trail is west of the old bridge location).

Download the PDF for photos and descriptions of this campsite.

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. Check out Turtle Hollow and Big Oak! Download the PDF for photos, descriptions, and map sections of these campsites.

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.

Relocated June 2014: Old Sawmill Campsite
For many years this site has been a favorite of Boy Scout groups and individuals wanting a site a couple miles in for a first night place to stay. The site was a large site that had grown larger with use over the years, and had become quite bare and compacted. The only way for the original site to get some leaf cover/restoration was close it and move the location. So on June 21, 2014 the site was relocated just west of its original location. The new site area is less than half the size of the original site and now has two designated fire rings and the site will only hold about 7-8 tents (or some 15-18 backpackers.) Most people hike in to this site area from the WJSP-TV tower parking lot trailhead (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. Alternate route is hiking in from the west, and it is about 2.3 miles east of Rocky Point Parking Lot trailhead. Again there are two designated fire rings (please don?t move or add fire-rings.) The site has ample water from a good sized stream and the access point to the stream is noted with a sign just 75' east past the entrance to the new camp. The new campsite entrance is just over 100' past the old site entrance. Note: the old location of the campsite is not to be used at all and sign at the old location entrance (now blocked) tell this. Download the PDF for photos and descriptions of the campsite.

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, use one of two fire rings only…BUT be prepared to haul about 5 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 likely smoldering ashes! We of the PMTA have found way too many smoldering campfires at this camp.