Big South Fork Views


May 16, 2016
I'm catching up on trip reports. Here are a couple short trips from November.

Nov 1 - 4, 2020 (3 nights) & Nov 20 - 22, 2020 (2 nights)

1st trip
Kids soccer was over and I was getting antsy. My mother was still in town helping with homeschooling the kids, so my wife said go. I've been meaning to get back to Big South Fork and this seemed like a good time.

I decided that I would check out some of the view points that I had seen before as well as a couple new ones. The weather forecast looked sunny but chilly/windy at night (highs in 50s and lows down to mid-20s).

I started at Leatherwood Ford and headed north on the JMT aiming for an overlook that I remembered passing 4 or 5 years ago. I was hopeful that I'd find a flat spot for a tent that was close to some views.

I enjoyed the views along the way, but the wind was gusting into the 30s and it wasn't super comfortable to linger.

Looking south at Big South Fork

Looking west-ish up Falls Branch

Cruising along the JMT

I got to my overlook and decided it would work. After another mile or so to get water, I returned and setup camp and waited for sunset.

The sunrise was nice

The weather was perfect, a great day for hiking with a little bit of color left in the leaves.

Small cemetery off the trail.

Looking down at Charit Creek Lodge

Stitch of 4 vertical shots

Jupiter and Saturn low on the horizon

Almost Full Moon setting

Hatfield Ridge Arch

Hiking south on the Sheltowee Trace

These features in the sandstone always intrigue me

Falls Branch Falls

Lone grave just off the trail

Another boring sunset

Big South Fork of the Cumberland down below

Mars in the east and a hint of the Milky Way to the north

I cowboy camped and woke up with my quilt covered in a layer of frost. As it got lighter, it was obvious where the moisture had come from

The second glory I saw this year. It turns out the shadow part is called a Brocken Spectre

Angel Falls Arch

and then back to the car and home. So, a waterfall, a couple arches, an old cemetery, awesome weather and I only saw a couple people each day, but mostly felt like it was just me and the trees. Basically, this was a perfect couple of days.

A couple weeks later and my wife said go, so back to Big South Fork. This time I started on the west side on Divide Road. I headed towards the Muir Overlook hoping to find a place to set up camp, but it wasn't going to work, so I headed down to the clearing below.

I setup on the edge of the clearing near the creek, gathered wood for a fire and left my camera pointed at the stars for a bit.


Star trails experiment. I need to work on these.

The clearing is mowed by the park service to leave it like it was earlier. This is all that remains of the house.

Nearby is the family cemetery

Ranson Boyat's grave (a sad story here).

After packing up, I decided to go bushwacking in an attempt to find Anderson Falls. I ended up getting close, but got cliffed out and had to retreat. I've seen a photo from the bottom of the falls, so I will have to make another attempt from a different direction.

I headed down towards the river and ran into a terrible/muddy trail from all the horses. The view of the river was nice though.

I looped around to Maude's Crack and climbed up to the plateau hoping to find a view to camp near.

Looking up the crack (the rope was nice at a couple points, but I did not really trust it) ...

... and down the crack

View from the overlook

Woke up with tons of clouds, but for a brief moment, the clouds lite up. I wish I had had a view to the southeast.

After a couple minutes, the sky faded again.

One last look from the Muir Overlook (the first night I had camped down below).

And then back to the car and home.


May 16, 2016
Here is an interesting article about the area if you are looking for lunchtime reading
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