Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area Packraft/Backpack Loop (TN)


May 3, 2013
The Big South Fork NRRA is a Cumberland Plateau gem. Remote and wild with options for everyone...hiking, backpacking, paddling, horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, rock's got it all.

I mapped out a 21 mile loop starting and ending at the Leatherwood Ford bridge which is the end of the whitewater section and start of much calmer water, except for two class 3-4's depending on water level. I paddled 8 miles, portaging Angel Falls. About a half mile from Station Camp Creek is an old logging road on the USGS quad, not found on any other map. It cuts off about 2 miles of horse trails, a nice shortcut to the John Muir Trail (the other lesser known JMT). It was overgrown and steep, no one has hiked that route in a long time. Once at the top of the cliffs I met up with the JMT and camped on the rim, waking up in the clouds. It was 13 miles total of hiking back to the car with a stop at the Angel Falls overlook. Perfect overnight trip.

Leatherwood Ford

Below the Angel Falls portage

I ran into my good friend Bart and his buddy below Angel Falls, they were doing a 4 day trip. Nice to have a little company on the river.

My camp in the morning, head in the clouds. Somewhere down there is a big canyon.


Pink Lady's Slipper


Wild azalea

Angel Falls overlook



Big, sluggish copperhead on the trail. My spirit snake.

Bringing my two favorite plateau's together - Colorado and Cumberland.

The route
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And I don't like the copperhead shot :)

But, I like this trip report. Interesting that the road is still hikeable. I never would have seen that on the topo if you had not added the map with your route.

thanks for the report
And I don't like the copperhead shot :)

But, I like this trip report. Interesting that the road is still hikeable. I never would have seen that on the topo if you had not added the map with your route.

thanks for the report

That old route was rough with a big pack and paddles sticking up with all the trees and deadfalls, doubt I'd do it again but it was cool to find it. Really steep.
Next trip is Burnt Mil Bridge to O&W Bridge, the whitewater section. Then the JMT all the way back to Burnt Mill. Close to 20 miles. Waiting on my Alpacka Wolverine....
Your photography is outstanding. I really like the snake picture and all of the flower closeups. The self timers are all good too. I wish there was flowing water in my county. I would love to do a trip like this every couple of weeks.
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