Friday, August 9, 2013

Pleasant Surprise - Lake Powhatan, NC

Pulling our 21 foot KZ Sportsmen travel trailer up the gradual incline on U.S. 25 from Greenville, South Carolina, into the foothills of the Smokey Mountains was no problem. It was a short, easy 186 mile trip from Athens, Georgia, to Asheville, North Carolina, and took us just over four hours. By the time we reached the junction with Interstate 26, – Interstates are great to use through the mountains – we were practically there and the climb was just about over. I don't think we downshifted into second gear more than once. Quite a bit different from our Toyota Sequoia's baptism of fire towing a trailer in the West Virginia mountains during last year's camping trip. 

Our pad, number 53 on the Lake Side Loop, was paved, and had thirty amp electrical service with water and sewer. With no camping pads across the access road in our part of the loop, privacy was great. We could easily have been in an isolated outpost, but in fact the campground is just around the corner on North Carolina Highway 191 from the entrance to the famed Blue Ridge Parkway and the beautiful North Carolina Arboretum.
Lake Powhatan Campground is open from April 1st to October 31st, as are the other three camping areas that are part of the recreation area, North Mills River, Sunburst, and Davidson River Campgrounds. Lake Powhatan has 85 sites, but only 6 have RV electrical service, and only 5 have standard electrical hookup. All the other sites are standard non-electric or tent camp sites. Our pad had all the civilized amenities of any RV campground except for cell phone coverage. A quirk of the local hills and valleys puts most of the campground in a dead spot. No Wi-Fi Internet service either, not even for Verizon users. 
Our first stay at a National Forest Campground – it is run under permit by the Cradle of Forestry Interpretive Association – and we can't help but notice the number of volunteers working and staying at the campground. Each of the four loops, Big John, Bent Creek, Lakeside, and Hardtimes, has at least two sets of full-time hosts, and the campground shows the result: it is spotless! The toilet and showers are sparkling clean, and the camp pads are raked and swept almost as soon as they are vacated. There is no camping store or “headquarters” so to speak, a huge fifth-wheel camper parked behind a wooden privacy fence at the main gate serves as the office. The group of hosts meets there in the morning before heading out to their respective tasks. One of those tasks, of course, is to man the front gate which is open from 7:00am until 10:00pm, which in our experience are extraordinary hours for a manned gate. The gate closes at 10:00pm, and there is no access until the gate reopens at 7:00 am the next morning. You may be fortunate enough to meet a sympathetic guard after hours, but don't count on it as they make rounds of the entire campground.

The campground also honors the Federal Senior pass, or in my case, the now obsolete Golden Age Passport, so costs are quite reasonable for a full 14 day stay. Many of the sites are first come, first served, but the full-service sites are available through on-line reservations at

Our site has full service, which means it has a sewer hook-up. This can be a terrible experience for first-time sewer users in an RV as many people mistakenly believe their RV systems work exactly like those at home. They do not, and leaving your RV's black water valve open continuously so it drains constantly into the sewer will normally end up in an embarrassing service call to unblock a solidified black-water tank or drain. We simply use the sewer hookup as a dump station, emptying when it is full, then filling the holding tank back with two gallons or so of fresh water along with the chemical packs we normally toss in at the beginning of each cycle. I don't keep the gray water tank valve open, either, as I use that water to flush the drain hose after emptying the black water tank.

The campground is criss-crossed by hiking and biking trails of all skill levels. In fact, the entire area around Asheville is an outdoor enthusiasts dream. Unfortunately the run-off from the continuous summer rains that feed the small, pretty lake have contributed to a high bacterial count that closed the lake to swimming. The lake isn't large enough for even a kayak or canoe and can be circled on the adjacent hiking trail in less than 20 minutes. It is perfect for the two Canada Geese that decided to spend the summer. Incidentally, the water monitoring service determined the geese were not at fault for the contamination.

We'll post more photos as we explore the campground and the surrounding area, but our first impression of the campground is very good. In fact, it is a pleasant surprise.

NEXT: Asheville - A New Definition of Diversity, at: 


1 comment:

  1. Just to add to your description of why NOT to leave the black or grey water valves open when connected is simply so that the inevitable sewer gases in the underground system will seek an upward path to atmosphere through your toilet and sink drains and can produce something that you might mistakingly blame Taz for :-)


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