We car camped in the front country at the Hickory Ridge camp ground. Each day we had several meals cooked over a camp fire, charcoal grill or several gas camp stoves. Most of the food was fresh and delicious selected by Annelise from the Earth Fare grocery store in Asheville. One night we had grilled trout, corn on the cob cooked in the wood fire embers, potato salad, fresh pears and a fruity red wine. It tasted as good as it smelled! For breakfast each morning, besides scrambled eggs, sausage, or grits, or oatmeal, we experimented with my first percolator coffee pot. By the third breakfast we had figured out the recipe for water level, amount of ground coffee, time on the fire and darkness in the perk cap. It enhanced our culinary experience.
One evening we drove down to the beautiful recreated home stead area with many original settler log and wooden cabins, spring house, barn, molasses mill, corn crib, garden and other pioneer features. This area is also a huge picnic grounds. Another afternoon we drove up Haw Orchard Mountain in the center of the park, toured the visitor center with a museum and hiked the Twin Pinnacle Trail to the top of the Park. Along the way we crossed Little Pinnacle Peak for a magnificent view. From there the trail descended steeply and I could not tell if we were on the correct path to Big Pinnacle, or on the wrong path to Massie Gap, so we turned back to the parking lot.
Our first main hike was from Massie Gap on the Rhododendron Trail to the north up the steep climb to Wilburn Ridge. This area is one of the main places to see the wild ponies which live in the Park, be we did not see any. Then we joined the Appalachian Trail and followed it north several miles along the Ridge. We had a trail lunch on a steep rock with a long range view back into North Carolina. Then we followed the Appalachian Spur Trail back down the mountain to the back-packers parking lot, and across Massie Gap to our vehicle.
Our second main hike was down the Wilson Creek loop trail from the Hickory Ridge camp ground to Wilson Creek. The trail eventually became steep, narrow, over grown, rugged, rocky, rooty and muddy. It reminded me of many trails in Linville Gorge. We had a picnic lunch beside the creek above a nice water fall. Then the trail looped away from the creek and joined the Seed Orchard Road for a short, gentle hike back to our camp.
I recommend this camp ground as one of the best in the south east USA. It is the only one I know which has water hot showers and a dish washing sink in the bath house!