Kings Mountain National Military Park | CAMPING

Garner Creek campsite at Kings Mountain National Military Park

Garner Creek campsite at Kings Mountain National Military Park

There is one backcountry campsite that holds a dozen people at Kings Mountain National Military Park, the Garner Creek Campsite. It is located 3.4 miles from the Visitor Center along the Park Loop Trail. The hike takes around 1.5 hours. To use the campsite you must get a free permit at the Visitor Center. All spots are taken on a first-come, first-served basis on the day you want to camp. I was there on a beautiful Saturday in early October and nobody was camping, so I can’t imagine the site filling up at any time. The adjacent Kings Mountain State Park has a regular campground in addition to two other backcountry sites along the Park Loop Trail.

Map showing the location of the Garner Creek campsite

Map showing the location of the Garner Creek campsite

The Garner Creek campsite is a primitive site without even a portable toilet. The only amenity is a fire ring. Pitch your tent anywhere in the cleared area. There is very little level ground, but it’s not so bad that you will slip from one side of your tent to the other while sleeping.

To reach the campsite from the Visitor Center, walk out the back door and take a right on the paved Battlefield Trail. You’ll come to a T-intersection in less than a minute. Take a right and continue until you see a cleared area with stacks of wood and a sign identifying the start of the backcountry trails. It is a 2-mile hike from here to where the Park Loop Trail intersects with the Browns Mountain Trail. For complete information on this segment of the hike, see the Hiking Trails web page here on National Park Planner.

When you reach the intersection with the Browns Mountain Trail, take a left and follow the trail marked with blue blazes: paint splotches painted on trees that you follow like Hansel and Gretel breadcrumbs. Some trees have a hiker emblem attached to them as well.

Intersection of the Park Loop Trail and Browns Mountain Trail

Intersection of the Park Loop Trail and Browns Mountain Trail

It is 1.4 miles to the campsite from the intersection. The trail starts off along a ridge before heading down a moderate hill for .2 mile. There is a short stretch of level terrain at the bottom before the trail starts up the first to two larger hills. Much of the trail doubles as a road for maintenance workers—I saw two men driving an ATV on it—so it is rather wide with a surface relatively free of rocks and roots, at least on the level segments. The sloped surfaces are often very rocky due to years of water rushing down the trail during rain storms and washing away the topsoil, which exposes the rocks. Because of this—and because of the steep terrain in general—I recommend using hiking poles if you have them.

Typical terrain along the level sections of the Park Loop Trail

Typical terrain along the level sections of the Park Loop Trail

Rocky surfaces on the hilly sections of the Park Loop Trail

Rocky surfaces on the hilly sections of the Park Loop Trail

I had a small problem with gnats on portions of the trail between the Browns Mountain turnoff and the campsite, something I did not have on the trail from the Visitor Center to Browns Mountain. This was in early October, so if the bugs are a little annoying then, things might be much worse in the dead of summer. I also suspect that mosquitoes are a problem in the summer, so be sure to bring insect repellent.

There are some short-but-steep sections on the two hills, with the hill before the campsite being tippy-toe steep: so steep that you must push off on your tip toes to move forward. However, aside from this and a few other spots, most of the ascents are long and gradual. This segment of the hike is certainly much easier than the first segment from the Visitor Center to Browns Mountain.

The campsite is located at the crest of a hill and is right next to the Park Loop Trail. As mentioned, the only amenity is a fire ring. There are burned trees—standing and fallen—so it appears that irresponsible campers have set things on fire by starting their own campfires next to their tents. Do the right thing and use the fire ring.

Garner Creek campsite at Kings Mountain National Military Park

Garner Creek campsite at Kings Mountain National Military Park

Back to the Top


Last updated on October 17, 2019
Share this article