Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Suggestions? Local tips? Tell us!


240 mi 386 km

Hikes

188 mi 302 km

Trails

98

Photos

Easy Trails
51 Trails
Intermediate Trails
23 Trails
Hard Trails
1 Trails

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

Visitor Centers:
Visitor center hours vary by season. Note that the park spans two time zones. To see current operating hours, visit the park's website.
  • Headquarters Building: Open 8 am to 4:30 pm ET, Monday through Friday.
  • Bandy Creek Visitor Center: Open 8 am to 6 pm ET, Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. Open 9 am to 5 pm ET during the winter. Closed on Christmas.
  • Crossville Visitor Center: Open 9 am to 5 pm CT, weekends.
  • Rugby Visitor Contact Station: Open 9 am to 5 pm ET, weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend.
  • Helenwood Visitor Center: Open 9 am to 5 pm ET, weekends.
  • Blue Heron Interpretive Center: Open daily from 9:30 to 3:30 ET, April 1 through October 1.
  • Stearns Visitor Contact Station: Open 9 am to 5 pm ET, weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend.

Fees & Passes
There is no entrance fee to Big South Fork NRRA. However, there are several types of user fees. To learn more about these additional fees, visit the park's website.

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): $22 per night for hook up sites, 96 sites. $19 per night for non-hook up sites, 49 sites. $100 per night for group sites, 2 sites. Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
  • Blue Heron Campground (KY): $17 per night per site, 45 sites. Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
  • Bear Creek Horse Camp (KY): $28 per night per site, 23 sites. Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
  • Alum Ford Campground (KY): $5 per night per site, 6 sites. Sites are filled on a first come, first served basis.
  • Station Camp Horse Camp (TN): $22-$26 per night per site, 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.

Outfitters, Tours, & Shuttles

Guided Tours:
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area offers a wide variety of ranger-led programs designed to enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the park. Programs are offered at various locations fro Memorial Day through Labor Day, and all ranger-led programs are free and open to the public. Visit the park's website to see the current events calendar and to learn more about special events.

Additionally, if you are interested in other guided opportunities, be sure to check out the park's recommended list of outfitters and guide services for a host of activities ranging from guided river tours to backwoods adventures to wilderness shuttle tours. More information can be found here. Another unique way to see the park is to take a ride on the Big South Fork Scenic Railway. More information on the railway, rates, and purchasing tickets, can be found at the here.

Maps & Guidebooks

To download a variety of free brochures to help plan your visit, click here.

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.

After the Hike: Local Favorites

SONIC Drive In Cherry Limeades from here are the best!
19536 Alberta St, Oneida TN — (423) 569-9338
Dairy Bar Always good food!:)
198 Main St, Whitley City KY — (606) 376-2124
Guthrie's River House Guthrie's has the best appetizer in town!...Warm Spinach Dip!
Speedy Tacos You gotta try the Torta Cubana. IT'S LEGIT!!!
Partners Pizza The pizza of course!!!!
Rickard Ridge BBQ Excellent BBQ, highly recommended!
131 Goose Ln, Caryville TN — (423) 907-8202

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.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail - Food and Equipment: Jul 10 - Knoxville REI
Considering a hike on the Appalachian Trail? Whether you are thru hiking or just taking a short weekend trip, REI Outdoor School can help you prepare for the trail. In this class, we will discuss details of food and equipment selection, including picking the right clothing/layers, and gear details. Details
Women's Beyond Backpacking Basics: What's Inside Your Pack?: Jul 12 - Knoxville REI
So you have your backpack loaded with all the "necessary" items for your next backpacking trip. Still think you might be carrying too much? Join REI for this small group session on how to cut weight and tailor your gear to best suit your needs. Details
View All Adventures

REI Adventures

Alaska Cruise - Inside Passage East
Juneau, Alaska
Yosemite Backpacking - Classic Yosemite
Yosemite National Park, California

Weather Averages


High

 

Low

 

Precip

 

Days w/

 

J F M A M J J A S O N D

Featured Hikes in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area - 10

Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. Add Your Hikes!

Trails in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area - 62

Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. Add Your Trails!

4.1 mi 6.6 km
#1 Honey Creek Loop
Huntsville, TN
4.1 mi 6.6 km Huntsville, TN
All Clear
Update
Mostly Dry
71 days ago
10 
Oneida, TN
3.9 mi 6.2 km Oneida, TN
All Clear
Update
84 days ago
2.2 mi 3.5 km
#3 Topside Loop Trail
Whitley City, KY
2.2 mi 3.5 km Whitley City, KY
Unknown
Update
Huntsville, TN
2.0 mi 3.3 km Huntsville, TN
Unknown
Update
Huntsville, TN
1.0 mi 1.5 km Huntsville, TN
Unknown
Update
Whitley City, KY
0.4 mi 0.7 km Whitley City, KY
Unknown
Update
2.2 mi 3.5 km
#7 JMT: Honey Creek
Huntsville, TN
2.2 mi 3.5 km Huntsville, TN
Unknown
Update
Oneida, TN
2.9 mi 4.7 km Oneida, TN
Unknown
Update
6.6 mi 10.6 km
#9 Grand Gap Loop Trail
Oneida, TN
6.6 mi 10.6 km Oneida, TN
Unknown
Update
Huntsville, TN
4.1 mi 6.7 km Huntsville, TN
Unknown
Update
Oneida, TN
4.4 mi 7.1 km Oneida, TN
Unknown
Update
0.9 mi 1.5 km
#12 Twin Arches Trail
Oneida, TN
0.9 mi 1.5 km Oneida, TN
Unknown
Update
Stearns, KY
6.4 mi 10.3 km Stearns, KY
Unknown
Update
Jamestown, TN
3.4 mi 5.5 km Jamestown, TN
Unknown
Update
Oneida, TN
14.4 mi 23.1 km Oneida, TN
Unknown
Update
Huntsville, TN
2.2 mi 3.6 km Huntsville, TN
Unknown
Update
Oneida, TN
2.0 mi 3.2 km Oneida, TN
All Clear
Update
Muddy
51 days ago
Pine Knot, KY
0.5 mi 0.7 km Pine Knot, KY
Unknown
Update
Oneida, TN
0.8 mi 1.3 km Oneida, TN
Unknown
Update
2.0 mi 3.2 km
#20 Fall Branch Trail
Oneida, TN
2.0 mi 3.2 km Oneida, TN
Minor Issues
Update
Fallen Trees
97 days ago

Photos of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area - 98

Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. Add Your Photos!

Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking