We went to Big South Fork (BSF) last week. We left on Wednesday a very cold day and came home on Sunday a cool but milder rainy day.
I know there are folks who go to BSF so I decided to write a detailed thread about our trip on the trails. We stay at a Cabin near the West Entrance to BSF. In a community called Spruce Creek, The cabin is small, perfect for a couple or maybe 3 folks (one sleeping on the sofa). The barn has 3 small stalls but a nice paddock area. For us.. it is perfect!!! We love it and have been going there about 7 years.. for a couple of years before that we stayed at East Fork Stables in their cabins.. We don't camp and don't have a living quarter trailer so we need a cabin.. I actually like camping but I love a good shower and good bed better!!!!
The 1st day we left home about 7:30, we usually leave earlier like 5 but because it was so cold and our trailer is a modified stock trailer we didn't want to freeze the horses to death.. We ended up putting two (2) blankets on each just to be safe. It was 29 degrees at home that morning. We got to the cabin about 11:30, after a good breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Crossville. We unloaded the horses, letting them stretch their legs in the paddock. We unloaded food and suitcases for us. Then Loaded Maci and Maggie back on the trailer for our first ride. It was still cold about 30 and there was a tiny bit of snow on the ground in the deep shady spots. (not much though, really just enough to claim!!)
1st ride-going into BSF from the west side, after you pass the BSF sign the next landmark you look for is the "Scott" county line sign. Immediately to the right after the Scott county line sign is a turn off down into a parking lot/trail head to the right. It has no name but on the map it is on the "North White Oak Loop". Park saddle up and go east along the gravel road. Travel along this multi-use trail/road. There is a trail branching off to the right called Cumberland Valley Loop, and further along is a trail to the left called Leatherwood Overlook. We have been to the overlook and it is a good overlook if you are interested.. Continue straight, you are on another part of the Cumberland Valley Loop. (CVL is a huge loop) It goes down, sometimes steeply down to Coyle Branch. There are hitchin posts,eat lunch or have a coffee break. Mount back up and go left down the river/creek. Coyle Branch goes into North White Oak Creek, travel down beside the creek about 1 1/2 miles (I am not a good judge of distance). The trail crosses the river. DO NOT CROSS IN HIGH WATER! But if the water is not too high go across the river on a diagonal and continue. You will quickly be on a gravel road. After about 3/4 of a mile you will get to the O & W bridge. We have never crossed with the horses but tied up and enjoyed the FABULOUS view from the bridge. We then turn around and go exactly the way we came, back to the truck/trailer.
2nd good ride-going toward BSF from the west, you are going to go behind the Cumberland Valley General Store for the Cumberland Valley Trail Head parking lot. There is a good parking area not far from the store. It is a long dry trail for a little while then it becomes forest and goes down to the river. There is a overlook called Laurel Fork Overlook that is nice. We then go on down some steep trails to the river. You can go either left or right at the river. You can make some loops if you want a long day but our horses and my butt is not up to that so we usually go down/or up the river for a ways and the return the way we came. Once several years ago our horses got spooked (smelling/snorting) at something along the upper part of this trail. We suspected wild hogs or bear. We heard at the store that there had been a bear spotted in that area just a few days before.
3rd good ride. Once again go into the park from the west. Park at that same no name parking lot just inside Scott County. Go out the parking lot back toward the west along a trail and you will cross the road going toward Bandy Creek Campground/Stables. You will actually be on North White Oak Loop. You will cross one creek before you get to the campground/stables. You can tie up at the stables hitchin post. Then walk over to the Ranger station, you can look around and buy a map or they have some paper maps they will mark for you. They have always been very nice and very helpful about the trails. We usually go out the Katie trail, get on Jacks Ridge Loop and make the loop. Return to Bandy Creek and go back to the trailer. But there are several variations you can do from Bandy Creek Campground. That is where the Rangers come in very handy!!
4th good ride--OUR FAVORITE!!
At Sharps Place or Corner(community) on the west side of the park, go north toward Picket State Park. Turn right into Divide Road. You will turn right again following signs for "Middle Creek Equestrian Trail Head & Sawmill Trail Head" go on toward Charit Creek Trail Head. You will be on a narrow gravel road/trail called Fork Ridge Road/Trail. When you get to the huge power lines turn left into a gravel parking lot. Saddle up and go on down the gravel road. You will see signs, follow the road down into Charit Creek Lodge. It is very steep at times. Horses must stay on the road until you get to Charit Creek Lodge/Hostel. When you do get to the Charit Creek, water the horses. Look around the hostel it is very interesting. There is someone there and they will let you look into the log cabins and lay in the hammock. If it is lunch time they have picnic tables or you can sit beside the creek. If you are real adventurous you can make reservations for you and your horse to stay the night(they have a barn/stalls for the horses). If you are interested in staying, look it up on line.
Back on the trail continuing along the trail behind the lodge, you will pass behind and above it. You go to just above the building and there is a intersection for Hatfield Ridge Trail, it is steep for a little while. There are a couple of trails going off but stay on Hatfield Ridge Trail. When you get to a sign for Charit Creek Overlook, GO!! It is breathtaking.
Continue on Hatfield Ridge Trail, it is a beautiful forest ridge top trail. When you get down to the river you can go to the river and cross it, but don't try to cross at high water. We usually go on to Camp Creek Trail, signs point the way back toward Charit Creek lodge. This is a very pretty trail. Mostly near the water. When you get to a choice of crossing the water to follow the trail or stay on the same side of the creek going up and there are some logs lining the trail.... turn around and go across the creek and follow that trail. It goes thru the creek several times and there are several good places for lunch. You will quickly be back at Charit Creek after the split trails converges again. Rest at the Lodge. The horses will have a hard pull back out to the trailer.
5th good ride. If you have gaited horses and it is not HOT, you can park at the Middle Creek Equestrian TH and ride the roads and there is a decent trail out the back of the Middle Creek TH. That can loop back up to Divide Road. I wouldn't do this if there was a lot of traffic on the road (lots of day hikers going to Twin Arches) due to dust. But when we went it was pretty cold and only saw 3 cars on the road all day. Good road to do a fast running walk!!!
6th good trail...
Go to Timber Ridge Campground. For A "Trail Maintenance Fee" they will GLADLY give you a good map and tell you good places to go. They owners are VERY NICE. There are several Rocky overhangs and caves that you can go into. Hitchin rails for the horses. Ride the "yellow" trail out the back of the campground, for a little while you will be on the "pink" then hit the yellow again, turn right. A very pretty creek side trail with several interesting places to see. A must do Trail!!!
The campground has an obstacle course that was fun to play at and see what our horses would go thru...
Straight across from the campground is BSF property. It is about 1/2 mile to the Wild Cat Den. Beautiful and well worth the trip.
I know there are many more trails that we haven't ridden yet.. please pass along any you know of!!
Please go to my Photo album and see the only one I have there.. I have just learned how to upload the photos. I have several of Wild Cat Den. And many that just show how pretty the trails are!