BIG SOUTH FORK NATIONAL PARK
Encompassing 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area protects the free-flowing Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its tributaries. The area boasts miles of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs, is rich with natural and historic features and has been developed to provide visitors with a wide range of outdoor recreational activities.
Hiking is one of the most popular and rewarding activities within Big South Fork. A large trail system is designed to take you into the heart of the park. Within the trail system there are a full range of opportunities available, from a short easy hike along the Big South Fork River to long and strenuous multiple day hikes and backcountry camping. There is even a section of the John Muir National Recreation Trail that passes through the park.
Angel Falls is a Class IV rapids located on the Big South Fork River.
The Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its main tributaries, the Clear Fork, North White Oak and New River offer visitors a variety of whitewater paddling opportunities. While on the river you may still see the results of previous agricultural, mining and logging practices, the land today has a quality of wildness with limited access and sparse development.
Paddling can be a dangerous sport in certain stretches of the rivers in Big South Fork. Some stretches may be ideal for beginners, while other sections should be attempted only by highly skilled paddlers with the proper equipment. There are streams which can be floated during any time of the year while others have enough water for boating only during seasons with sufficient rainfall.
The river is a dynamic system which changes constantly. Expect the unexpected for conditions change quickly.
Horseback riding has become one of the most popular activities at Big South Fork. To provide access to many of the area's scenic features, there are over 212 miles of horse trails available throughout the Big South Fork. These horse trails are all signed and marked with a red blaze. The trails vary in both length and degree of difficulty. They range from short, easy day rides to long and strenuous loops that may take several days to complete. Due to the extensive network of trails, horseback riders are advised to purchase a Trails Illustrated map from either of the park visitor centers, Eastern National, a park concessionaire or local area businesses.
Hundreds of miles of cliff are nestled within the boundaries of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. For the intrepid rock climber, these sandstone bluffs harbor an enormous wealth of rock climbing potential. Although much of the rock is too loose, soft, or blank to support rock climbing as an activity, potential routes exist in abundance for those who are dedicated enough to seek them out.
As with most other activities in the park, climbing at the Big South Fork is generally defined by an element of adventure and discovery that is often not associated with more developed climbing areas.
Quality traditional routes (routes relying upon removable protection) and boulder problems may be found scattered throughout the park. For example, the cliffs that rise above O&W Road offer amazing multi-pitch traditional, and aid routes (routes in which the climber pulls upon gear) in a spectacular setting. At over 250 feet tall, the cliff directly above O&W Bridge is sometimes cited as the tallest vertical wall in Tennessee.