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Blue Heron Loop Trail



6.4 mile 10.3 kilometer loop


Ascent: 1,098' 335 m
Descent: -1,115' -340 m
High: 1,324' 403 m
Low: 803' 245 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 30% (17°)


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Trail shared by Kathy Smith

This loop has something for everyone. It is best to travel in a clockwise direction, starting at the outdoor museum.

Kathy Smith

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views


The outdoor museum consists of several open air buildings, each with their own theme in this mining community. For more information, check out the Guide to the
Blue Heron Community

The beginning of the hike has a lot of climbing! There are a lot of stairs both rock and wood. This was the hardest part of the hike.

The first spur is the Blue Heron Overlook Trail. It's a short distance and well worth the extra mileage. The view is spectacular.

Back on the Loop trail the climb is over and the hiking levels off. There are two more overlooks. Each one has beautiful views!

The trail starts to head back down towards the river. On the way, you'll see many huge rocks. There are a few overhangs that you can eat lunch under. Before the last set of stairs down, you'll come across a large vein of coal. You can see the entrances to some old mines. The trail then winds is way along the river back to the parking lot.

If you have time, there is an old railroad bridge that connects the tipple to the trail on the other side of the river. It's been converted into a pedestrian bridge and is quite sturdy.


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Jun 17, 2019
Keith McConnell
great trail to run. well maintained. lots of great views. trail blaze is dark green - a little hard to see sometimes. 6.5mi — 2h 00m
Oct 28, 2018
Kathy Smith
7mi — 2h 15m
Jun 13, 2018
Mona Martin
Beautiful scenery overlooking the Cumberland River. 6.5mi
Aug 20, 2017
Jessi Sadaka
Oct 10, 2016
Tommy Safranek
Great trail that runs along the Big South Fork river ascending up an old mine tram railroad bed and then above the limestone above the bluff line.
Apr 18, 2016
Thomas Hensley
great trail has plenty of overlooks and the bottoms go down by the river beautiful trail overall I would say it's a moderate trail not for novice h...

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 7 votes


  4.4 from 7 votes
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in Tennessee


48 Views Last Month
1,772 Since Oct 31, 2018



Spectacular view from one of the overlooks.
Oct 31, 2018 near Stearns, KY
View of the river towards the end of the hike.
Oct 31, 2018 near Stearns, KY
Crack in the Rock
Oct 31, 2018 near Stearns, KY
Devil's Jump Overlook on the Blue Heron Loop Trail looks west towards Devil's Jump Rapids on the Big South Fork Cumberland River.
Dec 29, 2016 near Stearns, KY
Blue Heron Overlook bursts into color at dusk when looking downriver towards Tennessee. Blue Heron Outdoor Museum is just north and below the overlook.
Dec 29, 2016 near Stearns, KY
Steps along the Blue Heron Loop Trail lead to the rock climbing area at Crack-in-the-Rocks.
Dec 29, 2016 near Stearns, KY