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Big South Fork NRRA Trails

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The dramatic landscape of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is unsurpassed for its massive sandstone bluffs, natural arches, and abundant rock shelters. Trails run along the ridge featuring striking panoramic views that showcase the Cumberland Plateau Valley and the Big South Fork River below. Just a little over an hour north of Knoxville, there are over 450 miles of trails with around 300 miles open to mountain biking and 212 miles for equestrians. In addition, the trails are open to canine companions! Hiking trails are marked with a white blaze and either a red arrowhead, yellow turtle or blue silhouette of John Muir. Geographically divided, the park offers trails in the west side, south end, east side and central section. The Park offers a listing of popular day hikes as well as a set of 9 maps, featuring trail descriptions for both Tennessee Trails as well as Kentucky Trails that lie within the park boundaries. Some of the trails in the Park are remote with no water available, so be sure to carry an adequate supply.

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Equestrians have access to many of the area's scenic features with over 212 miles of horse trails available throughout the Big South Fork. Horse trails are signed and marked with a red blaze and vary in both length and degree of difficulty. Equestrians can choose from short, easy day rides to long and strenuous loops that may take several days to complete. Facilities include the Bandy Creek Stables, Station Camp Horse Camp and Bear creek Horse Camp. Details are on their website. The Park also provides a list of maps for the most popular trails.


Within the trail system there is a full range of hikes available, from a short easy hike along the Big South Fork River to long and strenuous multiple day hikes and backcountry camping. A section of the John Muir National Recreation Trail also passes through the park. Details, popular day hikes, and maps are available on their website.


IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) has named 5 trails in Big South Fork as Epic Rides, making this the first national park unit in the US to receive this elite designation. Note that the Grand Gap Loop and John Muir Trails are open to both hikers and bikers.

The Big South Fork feature around 300 miles of trail open to mountain biking. In addition to bike only trails, mountain bikes are allowed on highway edges, backcountry roads and some horse trails. This combination provides bikers of all skill levels with miles of trail options.The National Park Service uses trail markers to designate trail uses. With a few exceptions, the trails open to mountain bikes have difficulty ratings ranging from beginner to intermediate. Several trails are specifically signed for bikes. Many of the multiple-use trails and wagon routes also offer good mountain biking in all but very wet weather conditions.

More information is available on the Big South Fork website.
General information on mountain biking at BSF
Bike trail descriptions

The IMBA-associated MTB Project webpage offers a more complete list of Big South Fork trails open to mountain biking. The MTB Project webpage includes scalable maps and elevation profiles for the listed trails.

The Big South Fork Bike Club is affiliated with the International Mountain Biking Association and the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association. New members are always welcome. The Club often has guided group rides for all levels of ability and are good at helping people new to the sport of mountain biking.

Big South Fork NRRA Map pdf

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