A land as old as time, with mysteries that extend from the peaks of the highest mountains in the Cumberlands to the depths of the canyons in the Big South Fork. This is the Adventure Tourism Capital of Tennessee™. Your adventure
From short, leisurely strolls along the river to multi-day trips through the heart of the Big South Fork backcountry, a network of trails in the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area offer hiking opportunities for everyone. From waterfalls and overlooks to rock houses and cliff lines, the trails provide access to a number of scenic vistas. Hundreds of miles in all, the trail network is expansive with trails ranging from easy to challenging. See www.nps.gov/biso.
In just a few short years, Brimstone has become recognized as one of America’s top destination for off-highway vehicle exploration. One publication even named it the nation’s No. 1 destination for all-terrain vehicles.
You don’t have to tell that to Scott Countians. For years, the quality of the trail-riding experience at Brimstone was a well-kept secret. The secret isn’t so well-kept anymore, but the experience is no less enjoyable.
It was the threat of losing access to the 20,000 acres of the Brimstone property that spurred some local businessmen to establish Brimstone Recreation. In the process, the decision was made to share this unique place with the world. And the world has been flocking to Brimstone ever since.
Brimstone Recreation is more than just a few hundred miles of trails (ranging from easy to difficult). You can rent ATVs there, hire a guide for your trip, make camp at the Trails End Campground or enjoy a stay at a mountain cabin nearby.
The Big South Fork of the Cumberland River is recognized as one of the Southeast’s premier destinations for paddlers. The river’s characteristics vary greatly. Some stretches of the river are ideal for beginners while others should only be tackled by experienced paddlers. A couple of rapids — Angel Falls and Devil’s Jump — are recommended for portage by all paddlers, regardless of skill level.
Paddling is best during late winter and early spring. By early summer, the water is typically too low for serious paddling though many still use canoes and kayaks to reach their favorite fishing and camping destinations.
The river is prone to rapidly rise during periods of heavy rain and can become quite dangerous. The Big South Fork and its major tributaries are wild and untamed streams. The sheer gorge walls encasing the streams limit access to a few points along the way. Those planning to paddle the rivers should plan accordingly.
Our trails are epic! Five trails within the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area have received the International Mountain Biking Association’s coveted “epic” designation. In so doing, the Big South Fork became the first national park unit in the United States with IMBA-designated epic bike trails. That, of course, is no surprise. The Big South Fork already had more miles of designated bike trails than any other national park in the continental U.S. The list of designated bike trails in the BSF continues to grow. For the most current list of bike-designated trails within the national park, we encourage you to consult the Big South Fork Bike Club. The Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area has developed several mountain bike trails within the 125,000-acre park. In addition, biking is allowed on most horse trails in the park and on shoulders of highways and all backcountry roads within the park.
Before people were coming to the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area to pedal their bikes, float their boats or climb our rocks, they were coming here to ride their horses. And they still are.
The Big South Fork NRRA is truly an equine smorgasbord. In fact, the BSF has the largest network of public horse trails east of the Mississippi River, which is quite impressive. There are 180 miles of horse trails here, almost all of them offering spectacular rides through scenic wonderlands.
No wonder, then, that the Big South Fork has long been recognized as one of the Southeast’s top destinations for horseback riders. And more and more trail-riding enthusiasts are finding out about our quiet little corner of the world every year. If life is truly best viewed from the saddle, it’s even better when those views are of the unique terrain that makes up the Cumberland Plateau.
Big South Fork Country is truly a horseback rider’s paradise. The network of trails range from short day trips to strenuous rides that will require several days to complete. The trails roam through beautiful river gorges with towering cliff lines overhead, past rock houses and natural arches, along open ridge lines with views of the surrounding countryside, and through shaded creek bottoms crowded with hemlock and other evergreens.
There is almost no bad time to ride at the Big South Fork. The winter opens up the landscape, affording riders with views that are unparalleled just about anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains. The spring brings blooming redbuds and dogwoods and an abundance of wildflowers. Cumberland azalea, rhododendron and mountain laurel bloom in the summer. And, of course, the fall foliage beneath a clear, blue October sky in the Cumberlands is simply in a league of its own.
The network of trails and the concessions and businesses that cater to horseback riders in and around the park make the Big South Fork NRRA one of the most horse-friendly parks in the nation… and make a trip here a must.
An equestrian campground is available at Station Camp, offering 24 sites. Each site is equipped with water and electricity, table, grill, tie-out for four horses, access to restrooms with hot showers, a dump station and immediate access to miles of horse trails. To make a reservation or for more information: (423) 569-3321.
Bandy Creek Campground offers 96 trailer sites with water and electric hookups and 49 tent sites, along with two group camping areas. Bandy Creek Stables adjacent to the campground offers boarding for horses for riders camping at the campground. Stall rentals and long-term boarding are available. For more information: (423) 286-7433.
True West Campground, Stables & Mercantile is located on Leatherwood Road and offers 34 easy-access campsites, all with electric and water hookups. Nine of them have sewer hookups, as well. For more information: 931-752-8272 or www.truewestcampground.com.
Primitive camping in the backcountry is permitted as well. A Backcountry Camping Permit is required. Riders will have little problem finding suitable camping areas along the trail.
“It’s an enigma in the climbing world. Big South Fork has around 4,000 miles of rock, and almost nobody climbs there. The climbing in Big South Fork is as good or better than any other place I’ve been.”
MountainProject.com — the rock climbing world’s foremost website — calls the Big South Fork “one of the south’s last climbing frontiers.”
Blue Ridge Outdoors adds, “Big South Fork has more rock than a Metallica concert.”
The O&W Wall — towering over the historic O&W Railroad Bridge at the Big South Fork River — is quickly becoming one of the Southeast’s best-known destinations for dedicated climbers, and it’s just one of many serious rock faces suitable for climbing in the park.
As MountainProject notes, “If you plan on climbing at the BSF, don’t expect things to be easy or comfortable. Trails are not well marked or are non-existent; information from guidebooks is sparse; wildlife like rattlesnakes, bears and biting insects are plentiful; and rockfall is a serious concern. The BSF is a truly wild and remote area, so be prepared.”