Balsam Mountain Campground - Backpacking/Camping

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Escape the sweltering heat and swarming summertime crowds of the Smokies at this remote, high altitude refuge.

Written by

Steven Reinhold


0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

34.9 miles


1 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 days

1-3 Days


Spring, Summer, and Fall


Dog Friendly


Fees Permits





The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is historically the most visited National Park in America. Escape to the Balsam Mountain Campground area to avoid the throngs of visitors that frequent the more visited areas of the park. The campground sits at an elevation of 5,310’ which ensures cool temperatures and excellent star gazing opportunities. A total of 46 sites that come equipped with a fire grate and picnic table are available. Restroom facilities and cold running water are also available to all campers.  

What Makes It Great

The seclusion offered at this front-country campsite is hardly matched in the Great Smokies. Tent sites are surrounded by a mix of northern hardwoods, mountain laurel, wildflowers, and fragrant Spruce-Fir forests. Highlighting the area is a self-guided nature trail which starts at camp and leads hikers through lush forestry on its way to the gorgeous Heintooga picnic area. The picnic area is home to several large stone-slab picnic tables that provide rustic dining accommodations beneath towering trees. Charcoal grills are provided at each table and the ambience here is unmatched. 

The Heintooga picnic area, neighboring Balsam Mountain Campground, is also home to the Flat Creek Trailhead. The moderately strenuous Flat Creek trail leads hikers through old-growth forestry and fields of wildflowers on its way to Flat Creek Falls. While camping at Balsam Mountain take the Flat Creek Trail a short distance from the parking area to a west facing overlook, equipped with benches, to enjoy a Smoky Mountain sunset.

Who is Going to Love It

Fans of backcountry roads are going to love this area! The campground is situated near the start of Balsam Mountain Road. This one way gravel road provides a secluded and scenic drive as well as access to some of the more remote areas of the park like the Spruce Mountain and Balsam Mountain trailheads. 

If you have a road bike bring it with you to the Balsam Mountain Campground. Getting to camp involves a drive to the end of Heintooga Ridge Road, a lesser traveled spur road off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This scenic road runs along the ridgeline on a picturesque 9 mile section of freshly paved road. You’re your legs a workout by riding to the Parkway and back for an 18 mile round trip or continue along the Parkway for a longer ride!

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From Asheville, an hour and 15 minute scenic drive through Maggie Valley, NC will lead you to the campground. 

The fee for staying here is $14 per night and sites are rewarded on a first-come first-served basis. 

The campground is generally open from late May until early October each year. Check out the National Park’s website for more information on the Balsam Mountain Campground.


Balsam Mountain Campground

Heintooga Ridge Road
Cherokee, NC, 28719
35.565419, -83.174303

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