From scenic overlooks with panoramic views of the cliff-lined Big South Fork River gorge to spectacular waterfalls to hundreds of rock shelters and other geological wonders, the 200-plus miles of hiking trails you’ll find in the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area will take your breath away.
You’ll find everything from short, easy hikes along the Big South Fork River to strenuous, multi-day hikes through the Big South Fork backcountry. The BSF is home to two long-distance trails: the John Muir Trail from Honey Creek Trailhead to Pickett State Park, and the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail, from Burnt Mill Trailhead to Morehead, Ky.
Here are a few trails we recommend to get you started:
• Sunset Overlook: An easy, 3.6 mile stroll (out-and-back) to an unprotected overlook. Start at: East Rim Trailhead, on East Rim Road just off S.R. 297.
• Angel Falls: An easy, 4-mile hike (out-and-back) to Angel Falls, a dangerous, Class IV rapid on the Big South Fork River. Start at: Leatherwood Ford Trailhead on S.R. 297.
• Oscar Blevins Farm Loop: An easy, 3.5-mile hike to Oscar Blevins Farm, an early 20th Century farmstead that has been perfectly preserved. Start at: Bandy Creek Trailhead on Bandy Creek Road off S.R. 297.
• Angel Falls Overlook: A moderately difficult, 6-mile hike (out-and-back) to Angel Falls Overlook, a spectacular, unprotected overlook on the Grand Gap Loop Trail. Start at: Leatherwood Ford Trailhead on S.R. 297 (take the John Muir Trail across the S.R. 297 bridge and downstream to the Grand Gap Loop Trail).
• John Litton Farm Loop: A moderately difficult, 7-mile hike to the historic John Litton Farm, an early 20th Century subsistence farmstead in the Big South Fork backcountry. Start at: Bandy Creek Campground on Bandy Creek Road off S.R. 297.
• Twin Arches Loop: A moderately difficult, 7-mile hike to the Twin Arches, two sandstone land bridges that combine to form one of the largest such bridges in the world. The hike also encompasses the Charit Creek Hostel, a 19th Century farmstead that has been preserved and is today operated as a backcountry hostel. Start at: Twin Arches Trailhead on Divide Road off S.R. 154 near Jamestown, Tenn.
• Burnt Mill Loop: A moderately difficult, 4.5-mile hike along the Clear Fork River, one of the two rivers that merge to form the Big South Fork River. Start at: Burnt Mill Bridge Trailhead on Honey Creek Road in Robbins, Tenn.
• Honey Creek Loop: A strenuous, 5.5-mile trail that has been named by USA Today as one of the Top 25 hiking trails in America. You’ll walk through a rugged creek canyon, explore deep rock houses that were once used by Indians, see scenic overlooks, waterfalls, and everything else the Big South Fork has to offer. Start at: Honey Creek Trailhead on Honey Creek Road near Robbins, Tenn.
For more information, visit the National Park Service’s website.