Trip Date 04/04/2018
Posted On 11/15/2018 17:35:08
Camping | Hiking | Tennessee | Millington | RVing in Tennessee | Camping near Memphis | Camping near Graceland | Budget Camping near Graceland
Both Scott and I really wanted to tour Graceland, and our search for a nearby campground brought us to Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park. Our stay was a short one, but we took advantage of our time to see as much of the park as we could.
If you are in search of a campground in the nearby vicinity of Memphis, Tennessee, check out this post for a review of our camping experience at this state park. In addition to information on campground and campsite amenities, you'll find our favorite campsites plus an overview of available hiking in the park.
Campground Amenities at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park
With fewer amenities than in many of our recently visited parks, Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park in Millington, Tennessee is still a beautiful and nicely maintained campground with a forest full of tall trees and wonderful hiking trails. The park is about a 20 minute drive to Memphis, so it is quite convenient for day trips into the city.
We did not have the opportunity to explore the entire park, however in addition to the 49 site campground area, the park also has two group camp areas. Additionally, there is a primitive camping area reserved for scouts and other non-profit groups, a recreation lodge, nature center and cabins. The park offers hiking and water activities plus a disc golf course and about 8 miles of horse trails. On a not so positive note, during our two night stay we did notice a large number of mosquitos flying about.
The campground area of the state park has one public bathhouse with toilets and showers (some of the showers needed maintenance; the bathroom stalls at the visitor center were clean and in good condition). In addition to nearby playground equipment for the youngsters, a vending machine stands outside of the bathhouse dispensing 20 oz. plastic bottles of Pepsi products (no signage posted to indicate the cost). There are several trash cans throughout the park, plus a dumpster near the dump station that is conveniently located on the main park road which also led to the park exit.
The total cost for our two night stay was $57.44 including taxes and a $5.00 non-refundable reservation fee.
Campsite Amenities at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park
Online reservations including site selection are available for stays that meet the 1 day minimum and 14 day maximum requirement. All sites require backing in onto a paved parking pad and offer 20-, 30- and 50-amp electric connections plus on-site water. Campsites are surrounded by tall trees and most sites have trees which will accommodate the hanging of hammocks. In addition to a picnic table (uncovered), each site has both a grill and fire pit with grate.
As our stay was reserved and fully paid for over a month before our arrival, all that our check-in at the Visitor Center involved was picking up a map of the campgrounds. We found our way through the park to campsite 8 (a flat, clean and easy to navigate back-in site) for our two night stay.
While we had limited phone and data service through Verizon, there was no cell or data service through T-Mobile. We did, however, enjoy good broadcast TV reception during our stay.
Favorite Campsites at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park
As usual, we took our afternoon walk to check out the services offered in the small part of the park in which we were calling home, and of course, choose our favorite campsites. All things considered, our two favorites are sites 34 and 40. If, however, those two sites were unavailable, we also like campsites 8, 16, 22, 23, 25, 27, 31 and 49. All sites are back-in, most with trees suitable for hanging hammocks and have both on-site electric and water connections plus a picnic table, grill and grated fire pit.
Hiking at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park
Located within the state park are three hiking trails plus one bicycle trail:
- The route for the paved 2 1/2 mile long (one way) Bicycle Trail runs from the parking area of Picnic Shelters 1 & 2 to the parking area for Picnic Shelter 3.
- The Pioneer Springs Trail, a 2 1/2 mile one way hike, starts at Poplar Tree Lake and ends at the Woodland Trail Shelter.
- Chickasaw Bluff Trail, the granddaddy of all of the trails, is a 6 mile one-way trail that begins near the Mississippi River Group Camp and joins the Pioneer Springs Trail at the Woodland Trail Shelter for the final 2.5 miles to Poplar Tree Lake.
- Woodland Trail, a 3 mile loop trail with an optional shorter one mile loop, is the shortest hiking trail and the only trail on which we had an opportunity to hike during our short stay. We started at the "Woodland Trail" sign near campsite 12 which was actually labeled as "Chickasaw Bluff Trail" on the campground map that we were given at check-in.
Even though we were hiking in the very early days of spring, there were already some beautiful purple blooms along the way.
The hike was recommended to us by a fellow camper who we met on our walk through the campground, and he warned us that the hike started high up on the bluff and continued down into the valley. After descending the first set of stairs made from a combination of boards and tree roots, I took a look back up and quickly realized that whatever distance I go down, I'm going to have to go back up that same distance!
Along our round trip hike, we crossed a variety of bridges (all of different lengths and none looking the same as the last) which allowed us to get over Riddick Creek without getting wet.
Although there was good directional signage and the path was very easy to follow, since we did not begin at the main trailhead (near the old museum parking area), we weren't too sure where the trail would take us. We came upon the option for a one-mile loop and that sounded good to us. After a short distance of hiking in the direction that the arrow pointed, we came across another similar sign which indicated that the loop was behind us. Go figure!
Oh well, we continued in our original direction and quickly came to a different way to cross the creek - instead of the bridges that we had been crossing, we crossed this point in the creek on some stones spaced across the not too deep water.
From there, we made it back up to the top of the ridge and then out to what I believe was the main trailhead. After exploring that area of the park for a short bit (we were curious about a concrete slab which appeared to be from a no longer standing home), we returned to the trail. Hoping to find our way back to our starting point, we now had the sun at our backs.
We did not take the same trail in both directions, and somehow on our return, we ended up going down into the valley, back up to the bluff, and then down again ... which meant another upward climb was guaranteed. (I noticed that near the top of each of the "stairs" sat a wooden bench. I wonder if the bench was most used by those who forgo the steps saying to their hiking companions, "I'll wait here for you" or by those who are out of breath and needing a rest after ascending the steps?) Before finishing the climb on our last upward bound set of steps, I paused at an overlook for a nice view of the creek.
It appears that any of the hikes would be a good workout as all are described as traveling over both flat and hilly (or very hilly) terrain.
Check back later to see our upcoming post titled Goin' to Graceland ... in Memphis, Tennessee for a great way to spend the better part of a day. Although visiting Graceland is not inexpensive, it is an easy drive from Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park.
Campgrounds in Tennessee
What's the name (and city) of your favorite campground in Tennessee, and what makes it rank as your number one?
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