Cardens Bluff Campground is located near Hampton, Tennessee. The trail is primarily used for camping and is best used from April until October.
Absolutely beautiful campground with the campsites arranged on terraces around a hill that juts out into the lake, so most, if not all of them, have a great view of the lake. Lots of recreation areas all along the lakefront, from swimming areas to marinas to picnic areas. Really pretty scenery every direction you look. Recommend using the recreation.gov site to make reservations, as the camp hostess was incredibly unfriendly and unhelpful. That was our only complaint--all other campgrounds we visited around the Smoky Mountains had super friendly hosts, happy to give us information, pamphlets, maps and personal suggestions of places to go and things to do and see. Not this one; she made us feel like we were a huge bother and inconvenience any time we needed to ask a question. She had no answers other than to say she didn't know and it wasn't her job. According to her, her job was only to "see that things ran smoothly and make sure people weren't drinking." We never got camp instructions or a review card (as we did in every other campground) hence my leaving a review here.
We might give the campground four and a half. We dropped by here while visiting Cherokee/Pisgah National Forests. Wanted the experience of staying on a lake and boy did we have a great one.
We were surprised to find that the campsites are all either a walking distance or stair set away from the parking spot. While it proved to not be a big issue, it deterred us at first.
After getting to the site we were impressed with the set up. There was plenty of room in a designated area for our tent, the fire pit was one of the swivel-action (the best!) and the tables were great.
Our site was very close to the water. We bring a platypus water filter so we don't have to fetch water.
The bathrooms and potable water access were a ways from the site.
We had an AMAZING 180 degree view of the lake. We got set up just before sunset and had an amazing experience.
As it is a lake, you will have fisherman running around in their boats at early hours to fish. It wasn't extremely loud but we noticed.
I usually start at Shook Branch swimming area and paddle to interesting places like the Dam or Cardens Bluff. Lots of fun islands and rope swings to stop at. Explored this campground once, and the sites were very cramped. It probably had electricity, but the sites are busy and close together. But, it does a good job providing access to the lake, marinas, shooting range, AT, and Pond Mountain Wilderness.