In some respects, Charit Creek may be the oldest operating lodge in the National Park system. It has this honor because the main lodge building is a series of additions to a cabin built in 1817, and that original cabin is still part of the structure. Blevins was a prodigious and influential builder in this region during the early 19th century, so the lodge is relatively important in historical terms.
above, the bunks may be simple, but they're a welcome sight after a day of hiking and outdoor activities.
The main lodge is just one of many buildings in the Charit Creek complex. An old smoke house has been converted to host's quarters. There's also a large barn, kitchen and store building, two free standing guest cabins, and another barn-like structure converted to a shared bathroom/shower building. A few hundred yards away is a modern stable building; the only way for overnight guests to reach Charit Creek is on foot or horseback. There is a gated road for emergency access and the caretaker, used only to resupply the camp.
The original hunting camp was carved out of an untamed wilderness. Enter Charit Creek on foot, and it still seems that way. At times it feels as if the lodge complex is on the precipice of being reclaimed by the same savage wilderness. It's part of the charm of Charit Creek, and it's best if the road is kept out of sight and out of mind. There is no electricity, and blissfully, no generator chugging away. Deer, coyotes, fox, snakes, and all sorts of creatures make their way through the camp on a daily basis.
Cabin heating system -- Charit Creek isn't recommended for those who are acustomed to having a turn-down service with mints on the pillow.
It's a place where you leave the rest of the world behind. Charit Creek Lodge doesn't have the romantic sitting nooks of the western park lodges; the porch rockers are better suited to this Appalachian camp. The atmosphere is a kind of quiet stillness. In the summertime, that stillness -- and the heat -- can be oppressive; spring, fall, and even winter are infinitely more pleasant here. Even so, Charit Creek is a charming refuge, no matter what the weather brings.
The freestanding cabins are an opportunity to spend a night in much the same fashion as the original pioneers...when Kentucky and Tennessee were the wild west.
Lodging is available with or without the full meal service. Assuming the budget permits it, the full service arrangement is not to be missed. Meals are hearty, served family-style, with quantities and quality that force you to leave the diet back at the trailhead. The dining room has a simple southern country look to it, along with the appropriate dog-eared trail guides and topo maps you'd expect to see laying around. The fun and fellowship in the dining room are simply wonderful, completing the Charit Creek Lodge experience.
The dining room is simple and inviting.