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Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

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

196 mi 316 km of trail 12 Featured Hikes

Easy Trails 56 Trails Intermediate Trails 22 Trails Hard Trails 3 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.

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.

Featured Hikes in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area - 7

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Trails in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area - 69

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4.1 mi 6.6 km
#1 Honey Creek Loop
Huntsville, TN
4.1 mi 6.6 km Huntsville, TN
All Clear
Update
Dry - The trail is in good shape. The only mud is at the streams. Vegetation tight against the trail in a few areas.
29 days ago
20 
Huntsville, TN
1.0 mi 1.5 km Huntsville, TN
Unknown
Update
Oneida, TN
1.9 mi 3.0 km Oneida, TN
Unknown
Update
Huntsville, TN
1.3 mi 2.1 km Huntsville, TN
Unknown
Update
0.4 mi 0.7 km
#5 Cox Branch Trail
Huntsville, TN
0.4 mi 0.7 km Huntsville, TN
Unknown
Update
Whitley City, KY
0.4 mi 0.7 km Whitley City, KY
Unknown
Update
Oneida, TN
3.9 mi 6.2 km Oneida, TN
Unknown
Update
Huntsville, TN
2.0 mi 3.3 km Huntsville, TN
Unknown
Update
Oneida, TN
2.9 mi 4.7 km Oneida, TN
Minor Issues
Update
Bridge out at the beginning & one halfway through. The one halfway through is still usable we found & better than the detour.
84 days ago
Oneida, TN
6.6 mi 10.6 km Oneida, TN
Unknown
Update
Stearns, KY
6.4 mi 10.3 km Stearns, KY
All Clear
Update
Dry, Some Mud
30 days ago
Jamestown, TN
3.4 mi 5.5 km Jamestown, TN
All Clear
Update
Mostly Dry - Dry trail with 2 or three drainage crossings on footbridges.
22 days ago
Whitley City, KY
2.2 mi 3.5 km Whitley City, KY
All Clear
Update
Dry
84 days ago
Oneida, TN
4.4 mi 7.1 km Oneida, TN
Minor Issues
Update
Dry, Fallen Trees - Downed tree just south of farm loop and grand loop split.
6 days ago
2.2 mi 3.5 km
#15 JMT: Honey Creek
Huntsville, TN
2.2 mi 3.5 km Huntsville, TN
Unknown
Update
Huntsville, TN
4.1 mi 6.7 km Huntsville, TN
Unknown
Update
0.9 mi 1.5 km
#17 Twin Arches Trail
Oneida, TN
0.9 mi 1.5 km Oneida, TN
Unknown
Update
Oneida, TN
2.5 mi 4.0 km Oneida, TN
Unknown
Update
Oneida, TN
2.4 mi 3.9 km Oneida, TN
Unknown
Update
Oneida, TN
14.4 mi 23.1 km Oneida, TN
Unknown
Update

Photos of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area - 109

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