Big South Fork

You’re Looking At: One of the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area’s more than 100 waterfalls.

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There are few places on earth quite like the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.

Encompassing 125,000 acres in four Tennessee counties and also crossing into Kentucky, the BSF is the fifth-largest national park in the eastern U.S. It is often referred to as the “secret alternative of the Smokies.” Southern Living magazine said the BSF is where rangers from the Great Smoky Mountains go to vacation.

The most popular activity in the Big South Fork is hiking. Honey Creek Loop, which is located just outside of Morgan County on the southern side of the national park, has been recognized as one of the Top 10 day hikes in America. The BSF also encompasses two long-distance trails: the John Muir Trail, named for America’s famous adventurer who is sometimes called the father of the national park system, and the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail. Horseback riding is also hugely popular, with a network of equestrian trails that surpasses 300 miles. 

The Big South Fork is also one of only a handful of national parks in the United States with designated trails for mountain biking, and was the first national park to receive the International Mountain Biking Association’s (IMBA) coveted “Epic” designation tag. 

Whitewater rafting and rock climbing are also popular at the Big South Fork, and it is one of the few national parks to permit hunting. Whitetail deer, wild turkey and feral boar are among the big game animals that can be hunted there. While black bear cannot be hunted in the BSF, the park is home to a very healthy population of black bears, making it a popular destination for wildlife viewers.

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Horseback Riding
Mountain Biking
Rock Climbing
Whitewater Paddling
Wildlife Viewing

More Unique Places

You’re Looking At: A view of the Big South Fork River.