Explore the most popular river trails in Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
5 days ago

WOW! We loved this trail. It is a tough hike and not recommended for beginners without the right gear. Hiking poles are a must and you need the tips for both rock and soil. Good hiking boots with ankle support and lots of water and snacks. Good to have water shoes and extra socks. Lots of water crossings. I wouldn't want to hike this after a hard rain!
Best to do counter-clock wise. Trail is marked well, but you do have to pay attention. Some of the directions are painted on rocks while the others are markers on trees. Lots of hiking up the creek, around, under and over boulders. Trees down in some areas and low hanging so watch your head. Also some wooden steps have rotted out, but the rebar is still there and easy to trip over.

If you are not in decent shape or have stability issues I would not recommend it.

Keep your eyes open for the wildlife. Enjoy the beauty and don't rush it.

Best hike iv done yet in the Tennessee/Kentucky area.

This trail rocks. Better marked than in years past but still moderately hard. A trail to take your time on & savor the beauty. Must rank as one the best trails in East Tn.

This is certainly one of the best hikes in the region! One has to be in decent shape to complete the trail in 3 hours or less. Despite the rugged terrain the trail is well marked. Keep an eye out for bears!

hiking
20 days ago

Hiked to Dick Gaps and Catawba overlooks. Nice views of Mine 18 and the BSF river. Several nice rock formations too.

One of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever done and it’s literally in my backyard. It’s definitely a more challenging hike and it takes a few hours if you like to check out the scenery. But man is it worth it. Waterfall and overlooks with caves, can’t beat it.

OMG! I hike every weekend and already done over 200 miles of trails since Jan 1 2018.
Been in Cherokee and the Smoky mountains and this is the best all around hike I’ve done. Charles Bunion and Leconte are better views but this trail in unique. Stopped counting at 15 falls, over 20 creek crossing, some very hard. U have to go thru small rock caves and the creek is part of trail, boots extra pair of socks a must, so worth it.
Colors of rocks and moss are mind blowing, if I die hope it’s hiking there put it that way. Leave dogs at home u less u drive to overlook, not for anyone who is afraid of creek crossings because there are so many. Have to use rope to climb down back part of trail.
Go Counterclockwise! Way easier!! You will see what I mean, otherwise will have wet feet.
Trail starts not where it says trailhead(that’s clockwise) it starts just passed parking lot up the hill. Way easier and The park rangers recommend this way on the website.
5 hours at least to do whole trail about 6.5 miles if u do overlook too.

Probably one of my most favorite so far! Loved walking down the creek and climbing on the rocks. Interesting dens for creatures to hide out in :0! Ladders to climb, rocks to stack, waterfalls to see! I think the trail was marked pretty good some areas could’ve been better, but isn’t that half the fun! :)) Definitely will be revisiting soon!

hiking
1 month ago

Echoing all of the other reviewers: this is a gem of a hike for this area! My boyfriend is not a hiker and I usually have to do a lot of teeth pulling to get him outdoors, but he loved this one so much he wants to come back and do it again--which is a HUGE success. It is such a fun, active hike with unique features, waterfalls, scrambling and creek crossings. I was a little worried about bringing our older dog because of the scrambles, but he loved it! We did have to pick him up a few times during creek crossings, but I think a more/younger active dog wouldn't need any assistance.

Do note: if you have a dog, you most likely won't be able to get to the overlook of the gorge from the trail. The only way up is a steep ladder, and there was no way the pup would have been able to manage. I luckily was able to go snag a peak while my partner waited with the dog, but it was a bummer it wasn't accessible for everyone. You can drive to the overlook by continuing past the Honey Creek Loop trail head, so if you can't do it while on the trail you could always go have a look before you leave--it's a lovely view.

The trail is fairly well marked, but there were a few sections where we got a bit lost and had to double back and find the markers again. Parts of this trail are marked only with the "Sheltowee Trace" markers, so don't be thrown off--it's the same trail.

I brought trail runners and trekking poles, and I think both were good choices. Your feet will definitely get wet past the ankles, so waterproof ankle boots aren't going to do you much good--they'll end up keeping the water inside your boot instead of out. The trekking poles really help with the stream crossings, so bring em if you have em!

This is definitely one of the best hikes in the middle Tennessee area. We'll definitely be back.

This is one of my favorite trails I have ever done!! Better marked than I was lead to believe, certainly some rock climbing/scaling and creek crossing! My feet were SOAKED! All of the amazing waterfalls along the way made the trail even better than the overlook! We stopped a lot as my partner is a photographer and we really wanted to take the time to look at and photograph everything. Staked out some really nice campsites for returning in the future! I agree with other reviewers who said if you have ONE day to hike in the area, this is the ONE!

Went the complete trail. It was easy, but it was beautiful!

One of the best hikes in TN. Pay attention to the markers but the trail isn’t as poorly marked as other people say. Never seen so many different features on one trail. Really technical but not super difficult. Be ready to crawl and climb. If you’ve got one day to hike in Tennessee this should be where you go.

Stunning. Absolutely one of the best in Tennessee. My son and I had a complete blast hiking this trail!

My and my dog went. Amazing trail and we went after all the rain so it was that much more fun!!

This was a great hike with great rock formations and the water fall

One of the very best trails I have ever been on. Not for the faint of heart. Trail markings are hard to find at times and it is easy to get off the trail. Lots of complicated maneuvers such as climbing ropes, cave traverses, and ladders. The water was up from the Spring rain which made crossing the fast moving creek difficult in areas especially with a dog. Still, this was an adventure course full of spectacular waterfalls, massive rock crevices, and mossy Appalachian territory that never ceases to surprise. Lots of steep and difficult elevation changes. It took us under 5 hours with lunch included. It is recommended to pack plenty of water or a filtration device along with a few precautionary emergency tools because of the remoteness of this area. Go see it for yourself. It’s an adventure to remember.

hiking
3 months ago

Moderate. Well blazed & maintained. Hiked counterclockwise. Begins easily through mixed forest. Descends to creek side past a few rock houses. Long rolling section along the water is very pretty/peaceful. A bridge is out along the creek but no trouble going around. Leave creek w moderate uphill. Finishes on the road w approx. .5 mi back to trailhead. Bit of a drive to get to this trail but worth it.

hiking
3 months ago

Easy. Well marked & maintained. About 4.2 mi with spurs to Needle Arch & Slave Falls. Really nice hike with superb geology & water. Needle Arch very cool. Slave Falls is spectacular. Recommend going after a recent rain.

Easy most of the way on well maintained riverside trail. Moderate section beyond the bridge up to Devil's Cave & switchbacks up to the lookout. Historical bridge. Nice waterfall just before the bridge & really special waterfall .2 before you get to the cave. Cave is a neat geo feature. Leatherwood lookout just ok but the loop features a nice forest hike with small falls. 8 miles.

hiking
3 months ago

Nice hike, we cheated and came back to the car on the road.

The best hike I have done in Tennessee so far! The ice made it slippery but I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful time to go! It’s not an easy hike but all of the different obstacles/things to look at keep it fun! It is definitely easy to get off the trail because of all of the beautiful surroundings, so look ahead for trail markers! My German Shepherd/Alaskan Malamute may have loved the hike even more than I did! Can’t wait to take friends and family on this trail!

Beautiful! Ended up making a wrong turn and ended up at the parking lot/overlook area doing this trail counterclockwise..not quite sure what we did wrong but ended up doing a shorter loop. We were the only ones out there on NYE and it was great! Definitely be careful due to ice in some spots, we brought our dogs out and it was difficult getting them up the stairs that lead to the lookout.

hiking
5 months ago

Absolutely beautiful trail literally in my backyard!!

Love this trail, so much to see. It is hard, but rewarding and takes about 5 hours.

hiking
5 months ago

Pretty good Family friendly trail. The hill climb may challenge the youngest hikers (pre-teen) but is not too bad overall. Lots of rapids to view and a couple waterfall areas if recently rained. Great camping.

hiking
5 months ago

Definitely the nicest hike in big south fork, but yes it is challenging. Prepare to see some of the best scenery, take it slow and plan a whole day (6hrs). You will be exhausted once done, but it is well worth it. Not recommended for young kids.

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