Big South Fork National Recreation Area – Kentucky/Tennessee

My family and I spent a week exploring the Big South Fork National Recreation Area. This area was created in 1974 to preserve the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Located on the Cumberland Plateau and spanning both Kentucky and Tennessee, this area features rugged terrain, natural arches, deep gorges and the crystal clear Big South Fork. Below are some of the areas that we explored.

BSF 6.13 (3)

Leatherwood Ford River Access – Tennessee

The Leatherwood Ford was a main route to cross the river for early settlers due to the low water level of the river. Eventually, a low water bridge was constructed and even though it is in disrepair now, it still spans the river. The Highway 297 now crosses the river and can be seen above.

Also, when in the area, be sure to stop by the Bandy Creek Visitors Center as it has a lot of informational exhibits and a gift shop.

East Rim Overlook – Tennessee

The East Rim Overlook is located between the Bandy Creek Visitors Center and the town of Oneida, Tennessee. A short drive off of Highway 297 leads to a parking lot. A short paved path leads to the overlook. From here, you get an expansive view of the gorge and the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. This overlook is a must see when visiting the BSF.

East Rim (5)

Twin Arches – Tennessee

This area is a must visit when exploring the Big South Fork. Two massive natural arches are hidden along a 1.4 mile trail.


There are a lot of stairs on this trail, but I think if you hike the trail clockwise, it is a bit easier.

Bear Creek Area- Kentucky

We also stopped at the Bear Creek Area after exploring Blue Heron Mining Camp. There is a .3 mile trail to the overlook.


^ I love how Ellie is checking out the view LOL ^

We explored a lot of other areas in and around Big South Fork National Recreation Area. Stay tuned for those posts!

Cumberland Falls State Park

Pickett CCC Memorial State Park

Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Site

Yahoo Falls Scenic Area

Colditz Cove State Natural Area

Big South Fork Scenic Railroad & Blue Heron Mining Camp

For more information on Big South Fork, visit the National Park Service’s website!

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