Still rehabbing from surgery, I have been itching to camp and hike new places. I am very limited regarding distance and elevation…
This past weekend was spectacular for February – mid-50s, lows around 30…
Desoto Falls Recreation area had been on my “to explore” list… *not to be confused with Desoto State Park in Alabama…
This is a USFS area… Two loops for camping. The lower loop has multiple huge sites right on the creek. Standard fare of fire pit, picnic table, tent pad, lantern hook. There is water and a chemical vault toilet. Tons of rhododendron and large trees. Despite the spacious sites, there isn’t a lot of privacy… I recommend sites 14, 15… They are farthest away. Site 24 is also huge. Plenty of room for hammocks.
The upper loop has approximately 6-8 sites, much closer and not on water. But, they do have a bathhouse with flush toilets…
Camping is $6 off-season and $12 during prime season.
I was the only person camping this weekend but there were at least a dozen vehicles driving thru the loop during the day. Never saw a Ranger… There are warnings about the area being active for bears. I heard an owl and saw one squirrel. They do have bear -proof trash cans.
There are numerous very large trees down. Some have been “cut down” to size of a barrel. Bring an axe and you will be set for wood.
A major negative about this place… It is RIGHT off the road, so you will hear crotch rockets all day and 18 Wheelers all night. Despite how loud the creek is , it does not down out the sound. If not for that, this would be a fave destination for a car camping trip.
It indicates no camping on trail side of creek. I did see some fire rings though. I am not sure how enforced it is. Still, I heard trucks and crotch rockets most of the hike, so it wouldn’t be a solution for peace and quiet.
The trails… You can access both trails from the loop – there’s a cabana, with a bridge crossing the stream. Head right for the upper falls. The trail is 3/4 of a mile, one way. Part of it is gravel with several benches. The trail is not flat, but it is far from strenuous. It gets muddy the last 1/4 mile and it is a bit more uneven, rocky, etc.
Most of the trail is lined with rhododendron, but there are numerous spots where you can easily access other views of the creek.
There are bridges for water crossings and a nice viewing platform for the falls with a bench. People are encouraged not to climb the falls for there have been “numerous deaths”. It looks like more of a concern for erosion.
The falls are lovely but a heavy rainfall really makes them robust. I’m sure it can be a trickle in summer.
Instead of hiking all the way back to the bridge, I opted to ford the creek at camp site 14. It was ankle deep, not slippery. You will see a blue marker and can see the campsites from the trail.