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Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

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Overview

Boasting miles of scenic sandstone bluffs and river gorges, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area protects the natural beauty of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its tributaries. Covering 125,000 rugged acres of the Cumberland Plateau and spanning the states of Kentucky and Tennesee, the park is rich with history and nature, and the land has been developed to provide visitors with a multitude of recreational opportunities. Enjoy the views of pristine streams and impressive chimneys, arches, and cliffs that have been carved from the sandstone of the plateau.

To learn more about Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, visit www.nps.gov.

Local Info

Mountain biking is one of the more popular activities enjoyed by visitors to Big South Fork. Currently at Big South Fork, there are several trails which have been designed, built and are maintained by the Big South Fork Mountain Bike Club. In addition to bike-only trails, mountain bikes are allowed on highway edges, backcountry roads and some horse trails. This combination provides bikers of all skill levels with miles of trail options. For more information on biking in the park, click here.

Visiting Tips

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Some facilities are closed or have reduced hours during the winter.

Camping & Lodging

Camping:
Big South Fork contains five developed campgrounds, including two equestrian camps. The various campgrounds offer a range of amenities and more information can be found here.

  • Bandy Creek Campground (TN): 96 hook up sites. 49 non-hook upsites. 2 group sites. Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
  • Blue Heron Campground (KY): 45 sites. Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
  • Bear Creek Horse Camp (KY): 23 sites. Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
  • Alum Ford Campground (KY): 6 sites. Sites are filled on a first come, first served basis.
  • Station Camp Horse Camp (TN): 24 sites. Reservations can be made online or by calling (931) 319-6893.

Lodging:
Charit Creek Lodge is located in the Station Camp Creek drainage and offers a full range of amenities including cabin and dormitory rentals, meals, restrooms and showers. Access to the lodge is by foot, bike, or horse only. For more information or to make reservations, visit Charit Creek Lodge's website or call (865) 696-5611.

Food & Drink

There are no restaurants located within the park, but there are a variety of dining options located in the nearby towns. For more information on dining options in the Big South Fork region, click here.

Other Activities

The recreational opportunities in Big South Fork are seemingly endless, and visitors can choose from a long list of ways to explore the park and the surrounding areas. From hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and kyaking, there are many ways to explore all that the park has to offer. Be sure to check out the amazing mountain biking and rock climbing in the area. If you are looking for further recreational opportunities nearby, the Obed Wild and Scenic River, Dale Hollow Lake, Historic Rugby, and a variety of local state parks offer visitors additional opportunities to explore this great area. Visit Big South Fork's website for more information.

Recommended Routes in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area - 5

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Favorite There aren't many technical sections on Grand Gap.  The ones that you will find travel through spectacular settings.
Intermediate

Grand Gap Loop

6.4 mi 10.4 km 875' Up 266.56 m Up 872' Down 265.76 m Down

Oneida, TN
Favorite There aren't many technical sections on Grand Gap.  The ones that you will find travel through spectacular settings.
Intermediate

Big South Fork - IMBA EPIC

34.2 mi 55.0 km 2,249' Up 685.54 m Up 2,256' Down 687.53 m Down

Oneida, TN
Favorite Good trail ride
Intermediate

Collier Ridge/ West Bandy / Duncan Hollow at Big South Fork

13.3 mi 21.4 km 1,377' Up 419.57 m Up 1,377' Down 419.62 m Down

Oneida, TN
Favorite Cruising through dense forest along the John Muir Trail.
Intermediate

Chestnut Ridge Loop

11.2 mi 18.1 km 770' Up 234.56 m Up 770' Down 234.72 m Down

Oneida, TN
Favorite Descending rocky ledges into Difficulty Creek.
Difficult

Kentucky Trail Loop

18.6 mi 29.9 km 1,810' Up 551.82 m Up 1,792' Down 546.14 m Down

Pine Knot, KY

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area Biking

  • 315 Miles 507 Kilometers of Trail
  • 5 Recommended Routes
  • 36 Easy Trails Easy Trails
  • 29 Intermediate Trails Intermediate Trails
  • 9 Difficult Trails Difficult Trails
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Trails in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area - 69

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7.5 mi 12.1 km #1John Muir
Intermediate
Oneida, TN
Intermediate
Oneida, TN 16 
3.4 mi 5.5 km #2Station Camp Creek Trail
Intermediate
Oneida, TN
Intermediate
Oneida, TN
7.0 mi 11.2 km #3John Muir Trail: Chestnut Ridge Portion
Intermediate
Oneida, TN
Intermediate
Oneida, TN
5.8 mi 9.3 km #4Collier Ridge
Intermediate
Oneida, TN
Intermediate
Oneida, TN 13 
3.1 mi 4.9 km #5West Bandy
Easy/Intermediate
Oneida, TN
Easy/Intermediate
Oneida, TN
18.0 mi 28.9 km #6O&W
Easy
Oneida, TN
Easy
Oneida, TN
9.8 mi 15.8 km #7Kentucky Trail
Intermediate/Difficult
Pine Knot, KY
Intermediate/Difficult
Pine Knot, KY
4.7 mi 7.6 km #8Darrow Ridge Multi-Use Trail
Easy/Intermediate
Jamestown, TN
Easy/Intermediate
Jamestown, TN
2.1 mi 3.4 km #9Chestnut Ridge Trail
Easy/Intermediate
Pine Knot, KY
Easy/Intermediate
Pine Knot, KY
10.4 mi 16.7 km #10Cumberland Valley Loop
Difficult
Oneida, TN
Difficult
Oneida, TN

Photos of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area - 34

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There aren't many technical sections on Grand Gap.  The ones that you will find travel through spectacular settings.
Dec 21, 2012 near Oneida, TN
There are many opportunities to look out over the Big South Fork River
Dec 21, 2012 near Oneida, TN
The bridge crossing at Blue Heron
Dec 7, 2015 near Stearns, KY
Descending rocky ledges into Difficulty Creek.
Nov 19, 2015 near Pine Knot, KY
Cruising through dense forest along the John Muir Trail.
Dec 7, 2015 near Oneida, TN
Dropping into the Kentucky Trail Loop from Laurel Hill Multi-Use Trail.
Dec 7, 2015 near Pine Knot, KY
Heading east on the Kentucky Trail.
Dec 7, 2015 near Pine Knot, KY
Late day sun on the Grand Gap trail.
Dec 21, 2012 near Oneida, TN