Scott and Ariane March 12, 2010 3

Backpacking Big South Fork

Encompassing 250,000 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

Hiking Big South Fork will not let you down as far as scenery. I was really impressed on how much there was to see. The campsites, the rock formations, were all very cool. On this hike I had the pleasure of hiking with a good friend of mine, Bryan Delay. I originally met Bryan on Hikers Journal, but now he’s a Member of TheBackpackerTV.


We started our hike late on Thursday and immediately had to cross Laurel Creek. There was no option for rock jumping. Had to take off our shoes and put sandals on and brace for some cold water. We only hiked a mile or so before we set up camp for the night. We camped right along Laurel Creek. Then on Friday we hike to Charit Creek Lodge, which consist of some cabins and a dining hall. People can stay here with a reservation and the food is prepared for them. The only way to get to Charit Lodge is to hike to it. (or on Horseback) Then we hike to Twin Arches and then Jake’s Place, which would be a good place to camp on Friday night. Jake’s Place is an old homestead and there is plenty of space to camp. On Saturday we would hike to Slave Falls and then to Laurel Fork Creek, where we found a place to camp on Saturday night. We change our plans on hiking back to the car. We opted to hike Yellow Cliff Trail and only have to cross Laurel Fork Creek once. We found an excellent camp site along Laurel Creek. Then on Sunday we hiked out of the gorge to West Entrance TH where one of our cars would be parked.

A little about the Park Map. Don’t trust some of the Trail Heads. Most of them our accurate, but some of the places to jump into the park have been privately developed and no longer exist. We had a heck of a time starting our hike because of this, and had to change our starting point.

The Eastern/Central Time Line runs through the middle of the park. Most park offices and concessionaires operate on Eastern Time. If, however, your travels do take you across the time line, make sure you plan your time accordingly.

Bandy Creek Visitor Center is open daily, except Christmas. Center staff is available to provide visitors with information they need for a safe and enjoyable visit to the park and region. In addition to maps and park specific information, backcountry permits are available. Eastern National maintains an outlet in the Center.

Visitor Center hours May through September are 8:00 to 6:00 Sunday thru Saturday. October thru April the hours are 8:00 to 4:00 (Eastern Time). For additional information call (423) 286-7275.