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Hiking/camping off-site...I'm confused...
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mega name
(meganame) - F
Hiking/camping off-site...I'm confused... on 05/25/2010 18:23:47 MDT Print View

I always see pictures of peoples tents pitched on some beautiful hill, near a river, or something awesome like that. How do you know where to go? I mean, I could go camping here in Oklahoma, but as far as I know, I have to rent a site. Well, I don't want to sleep on gravel 50 yards from drunk teenagers. I want some awesome hiking adventure where I just FIND a place to pitch my tent for the night. Start a small fire & warm up my dinner, go to sleep, wake up and continue on my journey. How do I find out where these places are?

Dave Myers
(PatientWolf) - F

Locale: South Western Oklahoma
Re: Hiking/camping off-site...I'm confused... on 05/25/2010 18:50:34 MDT Print View

Meganame, see this thread about hiking locations in Oklahoma

The McGee Creek NRSA does not require any permit fee and is never crowded. The Witchita Mountains Wildlife Refuge only charges a $2 fee for a 3 day backcountry camping permit and only issues 10 permits in any given 3 day period for the huge area where backcountry camping is allowed. So chances are you won't see another person your entire time there except when you pass by the public campgrounds on your way out into the wilderness and feel sorry for all of those people crammed in like sardines.

Hope the info helps some.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: Hiking/camping off-site...I'm confused... on 05/25/2010 18:53:29 MDT Print View

I think some people pitch their tents in pretty areas to take pics, but don't camp there. I was on a trail the same time as a manufacturer was testing a tent and where he took 'the money shot' for it is DEFINITELY not a campsite.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Kodak Moments on 05/25/2010 19:15:42 MDT Print View

I can remember hitting South Dakota on the Sturgis Motorcycle Run in 76 and seeing the Prexies featured as a Kodak Moment, So I turned around and shot the crowd as they obeyed the Kodachrome directive. You lined up to a line and shot. Sheep in the headlights.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Hiking/camping off-site...I'm confused.. on 05/25/2010 19:39:27 MDT Print View

For me, the best places to hike/camp are in National Forests of a million acres or more. One can get "lost" in there and camp where ever your heart desires.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: Hiking/camping off-site...I'm confused... on 05/25/2010 20:11:47 MDT Print View

Mega, This is a question that I think a lot of people have...where is it ok to hike into the woods, forest, mountains, etc and setup camp where you desire. Then spend the night by a fire and continue on the next morning. I'm assuming its not about how to get the perfect picture of a tent.

I can't help with respect to Oklahoma, but I can give some ideas as they relate to the US southeast. In my region of the country there are two primary options. The first is National Forest Land. The forests managed by the Forest Service are for multiple use purpose. This includes hiking, camping, and backpacking. Typically you do not need a permit or pay a fee (not true of all areas though). You simply find a trail head and head out. You can camp where you like...usually not too close to streams and trails. The NF's near me often have less developed trails or trails that may use roads for connections. Be warned that National Forest multiple use may also include hunting, logging, or off road vehicles. A national forest in NC that work as described is the Pisgah National Forest. In the Pisgah you can camp where you like, build fires, all without a permit or fee.

Here is a pic in the Pisgah, NF. A big stream is nearby.
Pisgah Camping

The second option is the National Parks. Unlike the National Forests, the use off each park is much more regulated and the availability of backpacking depends on each park. Also if a park allows backpacking you will typically pay a fee and be required to register. The regulations for camping, fires, etc are usually more strigent then in the national forest. Unlike the NF's the park's mission is preservation, not multiple use so you will not find hunting or logging in a park. An example of a park that support backpacking is the Shenandoah in VA. Here you can camp anywhere as long as not too close to streams and trails. You have to register and pay a fee ($15 I think). You can not build fires though.

Here is a pic in Shenandoah, I camped just on the other side of the creek.

Here is a link to my website which has links to both the Park Service and Forest Service. This is a good place to start researching areas.

LytW8 Links

Once you have found an area that will allow the type of backcountry experience you are after you will need a map. I have had great luck with National Geographic Trails Maps. If one is not available I'd find a NSGS Topo Quad for the area of interest.

The next thing is learning to read a topo map so you can identify areas that will support a camp. With some practice you will be able to spot likely areas that flat enough to camp, have a nice view of a valley or stream, and has water nearby.

Sometimes a spot is exactly as I imagined it and sometimes I couldn't be more wrong. But its always a learning experience that makes me better.

Here is one of my favorite spots near Mount Rogers, VA.
Mount Rogers

So these pics may not be the perfect spot, but they were all spots I had picked out first by finding a park or forest I could backpack in. Then I planned a route and picked a spot on a map that I thought would be good places to camp.


Edited by jshortt on 05/25/2010 20:20:35 MDT.

mega name
(meganame) - F
. on 05/26/2010 00:11:21 MDT Print View

Thanks, Jamie. Excellent post. Unfortunately, we have only a National Grassland in OK. While I would love to see it, I may opt for Daves suggestion of Wichita Mountains in SW OK. I havent decided entirely though. Doing something this weekend for sure & you guys have given me a great leg up on the research I need to do.

mega name
(meganame) - F
... on 05/26/2010 00:32:05 MDT Print View

Speaking of Black Kettle National Grassland, anybody happen to know if you can do any backcountry camping out there? I cant find an answer online...

Dave Myers
(PatientWolf) - F

Locale: South Western Oklahoma
Re: ... on 05/26/2010 07:01:35 MDT Print View

Under recreation it says that Camping, fishing, etc... are all available year round.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Hiking/camping off-site...I'm confused... on 05/26/2010 08:09:02 MDT Print View

This is how I do it. I set off on a trail and hike until late in the day. Then I start looking for a place to camp. When I find a nice place, I stop.

What I mean by looking for a place to camp is just that. I just keep my eyes open for a flat spot big enough for my tent that will be in a protected area without wind or cold sinking air, or with wind when I want the bugs blown away.

I tend to choose camps that are not close to water. I'll grab an extra liter or so at a creek and hike on to a place without water. Those epic view places don't always offer you water or a place for a fire.

Hiking the PCT showed me it's not worth worrying too much ahead of time where I will camp. There's always a pace to sleep somewhere. I may have to hike a few more miles, but something always turns up.

James Patsalides
( - MLife

Locale: New England
re: Hiking/camping off-site...I'm confused... on 05/26/2010 09:28:52 MDT Print View

Very exciting to get out into the wildlands... I did want to point out that along with access to backcountry sites comes a responsibility to minimize your impact on the land - leaving the land in as pristine a condition as possible.

There are no national "regulations" to drive this, but I'd really encourage you to think about wildland ethics & prepare yourself for your first adventure in pristine areas by reviewing the principles developed by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoors Ethics (LNT) - you can access information at their website - You could probably find a short (usually free) LNT workshop near your home, so you can find out a little more about appropriate methods to protect our backcountry resources for perpetuity.

Either way, have fun on your backcountry adventure - can't wait to read your trip report on the forums!

Peace, James.

Daniel Fosse
(magillagorilla) - F

Locale: Southwest Ohio
Marketing Camp Photo on 05/26/2010 10:09:54 MDT Print View

" think some people pitch their tents in pretty areas to take pics"

Funny, I was on the Snow Peak website yesterday and it dawned on me, as I was enjoying the beautiful scenic pictures, some of them are horrible places to camp. One is a tent set up near this beautiful river when I noticed the campsite was pitched on a dense field of fist sized and larger jagged rocks. They must be really confident about their sleeping pads.

mega name
(meganame) - F
Oh man... on 06/04/2010 03:53:05 MDT Print View

Hit Google Maps, switch to satellite view & search "34.460853,-95.13422"
That isnt exactly the spot I camped, but it's in the area. Beautiful area. I loved it! Over Memorial Day weekend, I saw maybe 10 people and they were all at the river. Very secluded area...just beautiful. I will go back there for sure.

EDIT: Oh...I almost forgot. I'll post pix as soon as I can. I used 35mm so I have to develop them.

Edited by meganame on 06/04/2010 03:54:46 MDT.

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Camping locations/ website plug on 06/04/2010 04:06:13 MDT Print View

>How do you know where to go?

An interesting question. The major trails all have detailed trail descriptions, of course. Mostly, When If I don't have a particular goal in mind, I do mostly what everybody else does -- look for a flat stop to set up the shelter.

Here in Ohio, we are lucky to have

"BPO," the site's creator, has scouted every decent BP trail, and his trail descriptions include suggested campsites. An example: The trails in the Shawnee State Forest are ravaged by logging and forest fires, but Shawnee has the most scenic campsites in Ohio. It's worth the steep, unswitchbacked walks to get to those glorious wake-up views into the valleys of the "Little Smokies."

mega name
(meganame) - F
Pix & video... on 06/06/2010 01:37:22 MDT Print View

EDIT: I know these are a little large...but I'm having a hard time resizing. Sorry.

Here is a short video of us driving an old logging path:

Can somebody tell me what these bones are about? I found them a little off the trail.






















Edited by meganame on 06/06/2010 01:50:57 MDT.