Our move from the mountains of western North Carolina traveling west on I40 started with an interesting and beautiful section of highway as we traveled along the Pigeon River gorge. I40 has lots of twists and turns as it follows the gorge. We kept our speed down to match the truckers and enjoyed the ride. Once we crossed into Tennessee we continued enjoying the countryside and the highway settled down to more conventional interstate standards with only a few steeper hills along the way.
Arriving at our Army Corps of Engineers park was a bit more of a challenge than we expected. We’re only a few miles south of the interstate but we’ve descended quite a ways down to Floating Mill Park at Cedar Hill Lake; a place apply named with lots of cedars and steep hills surrounding a beautiful lake. The sign to the campground says nothing about there being a campground. Instead, it points to a “recreation area.” Normally, that would be enough. However, when one is pulling a big 5th wheel on steep roads turning down a narrow and even steeper road requires a certain level of confidence! Not only that, but my GPS was having problems of it’s own. I drove past the road and down across a big bridge that, as chance would have it, is undergoing some major maintenance. Once across the bridge I concluded that the recreation area sign I had passed was, indeed, pointing to the campground but I had to drive a ways up the incline on the other side of the bridge to turn around, cross through the construction again, climb up the other side and turn down the road. Almost instantly the road took us down another steep grade. When we came to a house construction site in which the dumpster was taking up part of the road I stopped and asked if the campground was ahead of us. The workers assured me that it was, so we continued down the steep hill. Soon the road split into three and another sign pointed to the recreation area, directing us down a narrower, but newly paved road. An ACoE truck was behind me so I asked the workers about the campground, they told me to follow them on down that road and, sure enough, we arrived at a beautiful, lakeside campground. Please remember, again, there’s something disconcerting about driving off down a steep, narrow road when you have a 35′ camper in tow. If not for that, I would have followed the sign in the first place with hardly a thought.
The campground is an interesting place. It is built on tiers situated on the steep hill above the lake. The closer one is to the lake, the more the campsites and shoehorned in. The roads don’t all work for a larger camper. They have turns that are simply too tight. Still, the campground works if you know where you are going and can back into campsites with uphill entry ramps or are in tight quarters or both. Once in, you find yourself in pretty surroundings, and, depending on how full the campground is and exactly what campsite you are in, with wonderful views. We ended up somewhere between all that. During the week we had a panoramic view. Over the weekend there were three other RV’s packed in below us, closer to the lake. We still had a nice view of the lake, but not the sweeping views we enjoyed on the weekdays. Our original campsite was on a corner, facing away from the lake and looking across the street right into our neighbor’s campsite. We were allowed to move just a short distance into a terrific site with a nice front yard and a bit more elbow room. We’d come back to this site in a heartbeat.
Did I mention that it’s steep? On paper we are close to the restrooms. In reality they are three tiers above us (and the campground goes on up another couple of tiers above that!). One gets a bit out of breath making that journey!
A lot of people come here to fish. There’s a state-of-the-art fish cleaning station and we saw people cleaning some big fish. Over the weekend there was also considerable boating activity on the lake and it looked like a lot of fun.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a nicer campground for tenting. There are many tent pads on the sides of the hill overlooking the lake. Most of them have steps with handrails leading up or down from the roads. The pads are level and compact, really tenting platforms; most with gorgeous views of the lake.
As you can tell this is an interesting campground. It’s a challenge to negotiate but depending on exactly which campsite one is in it can be one of the prettiest spots imaginable. I guess it’s always true to some extent but here, more than most places, knowing the campground when making reservations makes a huge difference. There are spots here that I doubt I could ever get into and if I did, I probably wouldn’t like them very much. There are spots here that are absolutely wonderful and well worth the effort required to get into them. I give this place two thumbs up — depending!
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