Big Bearpen is a small group of campsite located off Forest Service Road 475B. These roadside campsites are some of the best in Pisgah. They offer seclusion, yet they are close to the road.
There are two large campsites.
Campsite 1 – You hiked down the trail a short distance to find a camp spot on the left. This spot is huge and has a stone fire pit. There is room for several large tents and space for small tents under the tall Mountain Laurel. You are far enough off the road that you can not hear it. There is a small creek in a short distance to walk to from the campsite.
Campsite 2 – Keep walking down the original trail you started on and head straight where it splits off to site 11. not much further, and you will come out of the dense woods in an extensive clearing. This site has a large stone fire pit and room for at least five large tents. The ground is soft and mossy with ferns lining the outside of the campsite. There are two offshoots of the main camp that can offer more room for smaller tents.
Roadside camping in Pisgah National Forest is free. If you need additional information contact the Rangers Station at 828-877-3265
Forest Service Road 475B is a well-maintained dirt road. The only time you would need 4WD would be during winter if there was snow on the ground. We have traveled this road in all sorts of vehicles.
Big Bearpen campsites are approximately 7.5 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway Pisgah Access. Graveyard Fields on the parkway is about 14 miles away.
There is no room to park an RV at Big Bearpen. However, there is a large parking area at the sliding rock campsites 100 yards down the road. Be aware of the road leading to these sites is a dirt road and can be bumpy.
Pisgah is very dog friendly in general, these sites are no exception. There is plenty of fresh flowing water for the dogs to drink and play in.
No, these campsites are strictly pack in and pack out! There are dumpsters at several of the pullouts on US-276. Places like the Coon Tree Picnic Area.
Big Bearpen is a hammock campers’ dream. So many spots. If you want to set up your hammock in a mossy forest, this place has you covered. Need a bright sunny spot next to a babbling brook, no problem.
Big Bearpen is not set up to handle horses. Instead, we suggest Wolf Ford Horse Camp or Wash Creek Horse Camp. Both offer horse trails and closed forest service roads for multiday rides. Also nearby is Turkey Pen, which has horse trailer parking and great trails for horses!
In Pisgah, you can only occupy a roadside campsite for 14 days over 30 days. If you want to camp more than 14 days, you can camp at Davidson River campground, North Mills River Campground, or move ten aerial miles every 14 days.
Several waterfalls in the area, including Looking Glass Waterfall, Discovery Falls, Big Bearpen Falls, and Slick Rock falls. All of these waterfalls are close to the campsites. There are hundreds of waterfalls in this area.
The campsites are open year-round.
We recommend Whaleback Falls. There is also a link to a private swimming hole.
Directions: From Asheville
Take I-26 to Exit 40. Turn right off of the highway and follow Highway 280 for 16 miles. Turn right onto 276/Forest Heritage Scenic Byway.
After 5.3 miles, you will see a fork in the road with a sign for the Fish Hatchery. Turn left onto FR-475 toward the hatchery.
Take a right onto 475B / Headwaters Rd shortly after the hatchery. Follow this road until you pass Forest Service 225. Still on 475B, and right before you cross a concrete bridge, there is a trail off to the left. The trail may look small but holds a big surprise farther in. Watch for a bountiful amount of mushrooms along the trail.
If you enjoy hiking, we suggest you check out the Pink Beds, which is right down the road. It is also a great place to have a picnic and has several covered shelters.
Please follow the rules and clean up after yourself. Many campsites have been shut down due to misuse and people leaving trash.