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Sampson Mountain Wilderness

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The United States Congress designated the Sampson Mountain Wilderness (map) in 1986 and it now has a total of 7,960 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Tennessee and is managed by the Forest Service.


The five clear, swift, rocky streams that course through this Wilderness, which drain secluded hollows shadowed by steep and open ridges, plunge over several waterfalls, some of them dramatic cascades. Buckeye Falls drops 475 feet, reputedly more than any other waterfall in the eastern United States. A heavy forest cover of pine and hardwoods includes 536 acres of old growth that has been flourishing for more than a century. Wildflowers proliferate, and flowering shrubs include laurel, rhododendron, and flame azalea. Trout fishing may be excellent in the streams, but if your line keeps coming up empty, you can always snack on native blueberries. Problem is, you have to share the sweet fruit with black bears, who live here in greater numbers than anywhere else north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Several trails crawl faintly up creek valleys until they gradually fade away altogether. Confusing old roadbeds appear and disappear just as suddenly, leading nowhere. None of the trails are well maintained. The Squibb Creek Trail, in the extreme western section, travels 2.2 miles up Squibb Creek to a picturesque waterfall where the path dead-ends. The East Fork of Cassi Creek Trail leads 3.4 miles after it branches off of the Cassi Creek Trail (2.5 miles) to dead-end at Painter Creek Falls, a lovely cascading drop of approximately 200 feet. This could be your best opportunity to wander in solitude in a Tennessee Wilderness. Sampson Mountain, which peaks at 4,060 feet, anchors the Wilderness.

Planning to Visit the Sampson Mountain Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Sampson Mountain Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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