Author Topic: Overnighter in the Big South Fork  (Read 837 times)

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Offline Sarge

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Overnighter in the Big South Fork
« on: September 13, 2016, 07:53:11 AM »
Spent Friday night in the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area. It is in the Cumberland Mountains / Cumberland Plateau area about an hour and a half drive northwest of Knoxville. (Nearby Jamestown, TN is one of the state's first incorporated cities and is Sgt. Alvin York's hometown.) The BSF is named after the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. We visited the river gorge area and hiked to the Angel Falls Overlook.

We arrived early afternoon on Friday. The railroad / foot bridge to the trailhead was washed out so we started our hike on the Hwy 297 bridge over the river.


Here is a view from the riverbed. The washed out bridge is in the middle ground, the highway bridge in the background.


Trail to the overlook is about 2.8 miles. First two miles follows the river and is relatively flat.

River on one side of the trail...




Bluffs on the other...




We set up camp about 2 miles in, near Fall Branch. BFS is a camp anywhere area but we picked an existing campsite to minimize impact. Found a sandy area on the river with and fire ring.



Looking downstream from the campsite...


After setting up camp, went continued another half mile or so up to the overlook. The trail snakes around the bluffs, about a 500-ft elevation gain but it is not terribly difficult. Several sets of stone steps, a cable hand rail, and a ladder along the way.














This guy posed for the photo op. The copperheads were camera shy.


The payoff...






The river is 500 feet below but it feels a lot higher standing on the ledge.








Returned to camp and fished a little before supper. Fished a little more on the way out Saturday morning.

Didn't need a net to land our fish ... needed a saltine. Fishing was terrible and I got about 50 bug bites but the rest of the trip was awesome.

Thanks for looking.

"The man with the knapsack is never lost." Horace Kephart

Offline NewEnglandBushcraft

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Re: Overnighter in the Big South Fork
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2016, 08:43:19 AM »
 :thumbsup: Big South Fork is on my "must-go-to" list :). You sure had fun, despite the starving blood-suckers lol. Now THAT is one heck of a view at Angel Falls :D. Nice to see the Red Maples starting to take on their scarlet hues...dogwoods and Sassafras are transitioning into fiery shades here in Missouri :).
"Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." ~ Abraham Lincoln
My blog, https://newenglandbushcraft.wordpress.com/

Offline wsdstan

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Re: Overnighter in the Big South Fork
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2016, 09:31:22 AM »
That is very interesting country.  I am not used to seeing foliage that dense and I like those rock formations.  The large overhang has probably seen a lot of folks over the last several thousand years.  Great bunch of photos.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Overnighter in the Big South Fork
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2016, 10:26:14 AM »
MUZZLELOADER MAGAZINE has featured that area in several articles over the years.  Those rock ledges are tailor-made shelters for the longhunters that trod the trails of the Cumberland in their moccasins.  You can almost see them with their longrifles hunkered around a small fire underneath one of those sheltering ledges.  I envy the guys that emulate those old boys today......what a playground!

Nice trip report, Sarge.......I've got to get back down there again.  I'll bet it's been at least 40 years since I've been there......too danged long!  :-\
The only chance you got at a education is listenin' to me talk!
Augustus McCrea.....Texas Ranger      Lonesome Dove, TX

Offline madmax

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Re: Overnighter in the Big South Fork
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2016, 10:50:08 AM »
Beautiful country and pics.  It's been decades since I've been there.  I'm going back in Oct.  Can't wait.
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving pretty with a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways in a cloud of smoke, thouroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, Wow! What a ride!" 
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Offline Sarge

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Re: Overnighter in the Big South Fork
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2016, 12:15:19 PM »
Thanks, guys!

Hope you are able to make the trip some day, NEB. I don't think you'll be disappointed. We saw just a hint of fall color. I'd like to get back in about a month to see colors at their peak...perhaps it won't be peak blood-sucker season.

Wsdstan, I recently read something about the rock formations and the foliage. A local outdoor journalist wrote that the BSF is like Utah but with trees. Not sure if that's accurate but it sounds good.

We talked on the hike about those overhangs and speculated many a longhunter (and hunter/gatherer) had bedded there through the centuries. Camping is now prohibited beneath the rock shelters and it appeared visitors respect that. We didn't see any evidence of fires, camping, etc. Interesting about the magazine articles, Wolfy. It really does have the feel of a different era.

Hope you make it in October, Tony. Before this trip, it had been 20+ years since my last visit. It's even better than I remembered. Or maybe I appreciate it more now than when I was twenty-something.
"The man with the knapsack is never lost." Horace Kephart

Offline Yellowyak

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Re: Overnighter in the Big South Fork
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2016, 04:26:39 PM »
That is a beautiful area, great trip report Sarge. I'll be coming up to northern Tennessee in October. Looking forward to getting in the hills. Too bad about the fishing, doesn't matter thought, sure does sound like you had a great time.

Offline crashdive123

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Re: Overnighter in the Big South Fork
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2016, 05:55:26 PM »
Excellent trip.  I was there years ago and am headed back in October.



The bridge looks familiar.


Offline Sarge

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Re: Overnighter in the Big South Fork
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2016, 07:26:16 PM »
Sounds like October is a popular month. I wanna get back up there, too. I hope the leaves hang on and the colors last this fall. It's been very dry.

That's a nice shot, Crash. Looks like we stood in about the same spot. I like your colors better. I'm guessing your pic was taken around October.
"The man with the knapsack is never lost." Horace Kephart

Offline crashdive123

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Re: Overnighter in the Big South Fork
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2016, 03:51:33 AM »
It was.  A group that I've been going with from another forum - this will be our 8th year - go around the third weekend in October.  Since they leave the planning to me - I pick a place with mountains and fall colors.  The only mountains we have in my state ---- well most people call them overpasses.

Offline Sarge

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Re: Overnighter in the Big South Fork
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2016, 06:15:20 AM »
Eight years and counting  :cheers:
"The man with the knapsack is never lost." Horace Kephart