One of my favorite spots to spend time with a camera is around Gunner Pool campground. There are some great old growth trees around this area and in the fall they tend to have a wonderful fall display. Two of my favorite spots to work are from the old CCC (Civilian Convervation Corps) concrete bridge over Sylamore creek and then the old rock dam (featured in the photo) that creates Gunner Pool itself. Around the old bridge there are some Sycamore trees that are over 70 feet tall and probably over 100 years old. They can create a beautiful display in the fall. Around the rock dam you will find hickory and maple trees most of which are 2nd growth forest and not very tall, but still they can create a wonderful display of color.
Sylamore creek also has some very nice spots to work with. The lower level of the campground features about 5 separate campsites all of which are close to the creek. The creek opens into a large pool. For years I always thought that this was “Gunner Pool”, but the actual Gunner pool is made by the small side creek with the rock dam. However the pool at Sylamore creek is a wonderful swimming hole and in the summer you can count on a large crowd to be there. I prefer to go in the late spring and late fall when there are less people milling around. The far side of the pool has some large rocks that have fallen off the tall bluff on the far side of the creek. The campground side of the creek has a nice beach. Further downstream you can find some nice rapids.
There is a trail that runs along Sylamore creek from Gunner Pool campground all the way to Barkshed campground. This trail starts down by the creek as soon as you cross the high concrete bridge and then slowly works its way up to the top of the ridge. It will pretty much stay up on the top of the ridge until you start to get close to Barkshed campground. Barkshed is not a very large spot and does not have the same ambiance that Gunner Pool has. The sites are much more primitive.
From Gunner Pool, you can hike on this same trail until you come to Blanchard Springs campground. Here you can also spend sometime in the caverns which can be a nice experience especially in the summer. There is a much more formal campground at Blanchard Springs with RV hookups and it’s definitely not a primitive campground.
If you are looking for a great place to explore and spend the weekend, then consider heading to Gunner Pool campground.