Chilhowee Campground

Benton, Tennessee 37307

Chilhowee Campground

Chilhowee Campground Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"In 2006, a fatal bear mauling occurred near Chilhowee Campground, but the culprit was caught and euthanized, garnering Chilhowee nationwide attention. However, don’t let this deter you from visiting—just be bear aware. The Chilhowee experience starts on the road to the campground. Forest Service Road 77 is a Forest Service–designated scenic byway that climbs 7 miles to the campground.

Don’t rush the trip—pull off at one of the cleared overlooks and enjoy the view of Parksville Lake below, while mountains and valleys undulate in the distance. Once you’ve made the pull to the top and seen the campground, it’s the nearby activities that may keep you from coming down for a while."

Chilhowee Campground Reviews

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The Chilhowee Campground is located in the Chilhowee Recreation Area of the Cherokee National Forest, just east of Ocoee, Tennessee. The drive to the campground is fairly steep, but the scenery is breathtaking along the way. There are a few scenic overlooks where you can pull over and take a break from the winding, narrow road, once of which has a short scenic loop trail you can hike (it’s a super-easy hike!).
The campground is open seasonally, from spring to early fall. Tents and reasonably sized RVS can be accommodated, but electricity is the only type of hookup available. Facilities include restrooms, showers, and a dump station. Reservations are accepted, but only within four days of arrival. This campground fills up quickly, as the fact that it’s in the heart of Tennessee’s whitewater country makes it a popular destination.
Within the Recreation Area, there are a lot of hiking trails, including a trail to the beautiful Benton Falls waterfall. Mountain bikes are allowed. You can also enjoy swimming or fishing in McKamy Lake or hanging out on its beach. No boats with gasoline motors are allowed in the lake, though electric motors are allowed. You could put in your kayak or canoe (though you might prefer to head down the road to the Ocoee River or the Hiawassee River if you’re looking for adventure).
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This is the second time I have camped at Chilhowee Campground. Both times were combined with a rafting trip down the Ocoee River. The first time was about 15 years ago. At that time the campground was quite primitive with vaulted toilets and hand pumped water. The access road was very rough and the camp roads were not paved. We had pouring rain along with nighttime visits from wild boars.

This time our experience was much different. The access road was nicely paved with several spectacular developed overlooks. The campground roads were all paved and each loop offered a variety of sites for both tents and small RV's some with electric and water and some without, all clearly marked. The sites were well situated and had nice timber-framed gravel pads with sturdy picnic tables and lantern poles. The only problem we had was that the fine gravel had pretty much turned to cement and made driving the tent stakes impossible on three sides of our tent. We ended up finding some good sized rocks and used them to anchor the lines.

The bathhouse was pretty nice on Loop F where we stayed. After driving around later we discovered that Loops C & D had a brand new bathhouse with two showers for each sex instead of the one on the other loop. The guide does not reflect this new addition. All toilets were flush. My only objection was that both toilets were set at the handicap elevation instead of at the normal height off the floor.

Another observation was that there had been a great loss of trees, especially pines. Some losses were due to a fire, but I think most were probably due to pine beetle infestation.

This is a great place for a base camp in this area especially for activities on the Ocoee River. It takes about 20 minutes to get down the mountain to the main road, US Highway 64. The National Forest Service is to be commended on their campground developments/upgrades over the last 15 years.

Chilhowee Campground Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
April–early November

Activity Feed

Dec 2018