Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, in Tennessee and Kentucky, offers adventurous visitors fantastic opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and whitewater paddling on the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Wildflowers, wildlife, breathtaking scenery and historic structures beckon you to get out and explore.
The rugged terrain didn't stop early settlers from exploring and inhabiting the Cumberland Plateau. Place names like No Business, Difficulty, and Troublesome speak volumes about the hardy people that persevered to establish communities, including stores, churches and schools to serve these early homesteaders. Later, commercial logging and coal mining drew people to the Big South Fork area. Hundreds of people lived in the Blue Heron Community on the banks of the Big South Fork. The National Park Service has re-created the Blue Heron community, and interpretive displays and audio help tell the story of the people who lived and worked in the isolated coal mining town.
If You Go
A favorite hike during low water is the Honey Creek Loop. This challenging 5.5-mile hike takes you over boulders, through narrow squeezes and box canyons, past rock shelters and waterfalls, and up 30-foot ladders for spectacular views out over the Big South Fork. It is not recommended to hike this fantastic loop after heavy rainfall or during heavy freezes, as there are numerous creek crossings and narrow, steep areas on the trail.