Located northwest of Knoxville, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is a hidden treasure of outdoor fun and breathtaking scenery. The park's name comes from the south fork of the Cumberland River which alternately flows and rages as it passes through 90 miles of rugged gorges and cool valleys here. The 113,000 acres of the Big South Fork area stretches from Tennessee into Kentucky.
Once a source of timber and coal, this natural area boasts 500-foot deep gorges, cliffs, arches and river-carved stone shelters once used by Native Americans and early settlers. Rafting is a popular activity ranging from an easy float down the river to Class V whitewater. Sheltowee Trace Outfitters is a one stop for canoe rentals or raft tours.
See the natural beauty up close along some of the area's 150 miles of hiking trails ranging in length and skill from short/easy to long/strenuous. Angel Falls Trail, at 2 miles, is rated easy and steers hikers past river views, rapids and wildflowers. John Litton General Slaven Loop, rated "moderate", covers six miles past an old farmstead and small waterfalls.
Outdoor recreation is wide-ranging in the natural area. Bikers may ride on any road in the park; mountain bikers may journey on designated routes only. Over 130 miles of trails are open to horseback riders; two horse camps are located in the park. Fishing is a big draw on the river with smallmouth bass and bream the main catches. Hunting, bird watching and wildlife viewing are other popular pastimes.
Lodging at Big South Fork includes Charit Creek Lodge, a backcountry facility with access by foot or horseback only. The lodge has full service year-round accommodations, including an 1817 cabin, but there are no phones or electricity. A stable and corral are available. Or try Wildwood B & B Lodge at nearby Jamestown with 10 rooms, cabins and stables. The country breakfasts and dinners prepared by a European master chef should make roughing it a little easier.
Open year-round, Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area is located about 2 hours northwest of Knoxville and 30 miles from I-75, near Jamestown, off TN 52.