BIG SOUTH FORK NATIONAL RIVER & SURROUNDING AREAS
Miles of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs right in your backyard. 55 miles to The Great Smokies and 50 miles to the city of Knoxville. Have the best of both worlds, peaceful nature and vibrant city life.
Just minutes away, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Oneida, TN, offers miles of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs right in your backyard. Encompassing 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau, the free-flowing Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its tributaries offer opportunities for: whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking, big and small game hunting, fishing, and a variety of camping amenities. With over 180 miles of equestrian trails you can access many of the area’s scenic features, including the remote Charit Creek Lodge.
This area is also rich in historic features. You can spend a day exploring the abandoned Blue Heron Mining Community, and hear the stories of former residents in this ghost community from over forty years ago.
From leisurely day hikes to rugged multi-day adventures, you will have the opportunity to explore one of the most important archaeological sites in the South East, and observe rare species of threatened and endangered plants and animals. The rich natural and historic features of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area will also provide endless opportunities for unique photographs and star-gazing in pure darkness.
If you’re not sure where to begin at the Big South Fork River Recreation Area, visit one of the on-site visitor centers. The guides at these centers will point you in the right direction for hiking trails, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and other activities. For the view-seekers, the gorge boasts the best overlooks for breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. Those who have horses are welcome to traipse the miles of trails, or a seasoned guide will help you pick the best horse for you from the on-site stables. Unlimited adventure awaits in this national park located just outside the energetic city of Knoxville!
Senator Howard Baker, Jr. noticed the natural beauty and potential of Big South Fork as a recreational area. To prevent the river from being dammed in 1972, he partnered with the Big South Fork Coalition to push through protective legislation. This legislation came in the form of a water resource bill, which bought the ambitious senator time to rewrite the bill and fight for the area to become a national park.
Two years later, Senator Howard Baker, Jr., achieved his goal with the official establishment of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. In the following years, the park expanded rapidly by buying surrounding acreage from private landowners and big corporations. The hard work of the park service did not end with merely buying up the surrounding land. The service then got to work, cleaning up debris, and designing miles of horseback and hiking trails.
To this day, Big South Fork River remains only one of a handful of rivers deemed a National River by Congress. This is due to the rich history it represents alongside its natural beauty and wildlife.
OTHER NEARBY RECREATION AREAS
Daniel Boone National Forest
Winchester, KY (859) 745-3100
Daniel Boone National Forest sits along the Cumberland Plateau in the Appalachian Foothills. The forest has 707,000 acres of mostly rugged terrain, 3,400 miles of sandstone cliffs, and 600 miles of trails great for backpacking, camping, and picnicking. The forest also offers rock climbing, boating, hunting, fishing, bird watching, geocaching and caving.
Explore Lake Noris
With 800 miles of shoreline, 34,000 acres, 22 marinas and resorts, 3 state parks, 2 wildlife management areas, and 14 species of fish, Norris Lake is the perfect vacation destination. The lake extends 56 miles up the Powell River and 72 miles up the Clinch River, and it’s surrounded by the beautiful mountains of East Tennessee. Not only is it one of TVA’s cleanest lakes, but it has something for everyone to enjoy — from those looking for a thrill to those who just want to relax. It truly is a lake like no other.
Pickett State Park
Jamestown, TN (931) 879-5821
Pickett State Park offers scenic botanical and geological wonders found nowhere else in Tennessee. There are also many uncommon rock formations, natural bridges, numerous caves, and ancient Indian occupation remains. Also available are, camping, picnicking, swimming, hiking, hunting, and fishing in 15 acre Arch Lake, as well as, archery, tennis courts, volleyball, basketball, playgrounds, and scenic drives.
Cove Lake State Park Area
Caryville, TN (423) 566-9701
Cove Lake is 673 acres that sits on the edge of the Cumberland Mountains. This park has miles of scenic hiking trails, biking trails, and is great for boating, swimming, hunting and camping. Also, in the winter, Canadian Geese make this park their feeding ground.
Obed Wild and Scenic River
Wartburg, TN (423) 346-6294
Thirty miles south of the Big South Fork Airpark on Highway 27 sits the Obed Wild and Scenic River. The river and surrounding areas look now just as they did in the 1700’s due to poor farming soil. The Obed Wild and Scenic River provides fishing, hiking, great sandstone rock climbing, boulder climbing, and is the source of one of the best whitewater rivers in the Eastern United States
Dale Hollow Lake
Dale Hollow Lake holds the world record for the largest small mouth bass and the Tennessee state record for largest lake trout. The lake also offers fishing, camping, kayaking, hiking, hunting, log cabin rentals and ski boat rentals.
When you’re looking for the hustle and bustle of city living, head just 50 miles south to Knoxville, Tennessee! (kTYS is 48.2n – time-15 min.) Knoxville is home to the University of Tennessee and is the third largest city in the state. Spend your Saturday at a local brewery, catch a show in the Theatre District, and end your evening with dinner made by an award-winning chef. Make a weekend of it by booking a charming downtown hotel or be home in just over an hour!
From its very beginnings, Nashville grew from a foundation built on music. Music has been the common thread connecting the life and soul of the city and its people. Visitors have ventured here to experience the music that weaves such a fundamental pattern in its cultural, business and social fabric. Nashville is a great place to visit any time of year. The climate is mild, offering beautiful colors in the spring and fall, a warm summer, and cool winter. With so much going on all year-round, the hard part will be choosing when to visit.