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Towering gorge walls encasing the sparkling blue waters of free-flowing rivers … Unique sandstone formations … Waterfalls … Pristine forests … Countless varieties of flora and fauna … Some of the Southeast’s most varied species of wildlife.
That’s what the Cumberland Plateau has to offer. And in the middle of it all: Scott County, Tennessee. Come see what others have already discovered about this gem hidden away in the foothills of the Appalachians.
LIONS, TIGERS & BEARS … OH DEER!
You won’t truly find lions and tigers in the Big South Fork, of course. But you will find bears! In fact, surveys have found the population density of black bears in the Big South Fork to be nearly the same as the population density of black bears in the Great Smoky Mountains. These gentle beasts of the forest are a major draw for visitors to the national park. Please enjoy photographing and watching our bears — just keep your distance and, please, don’t feed them! Remember, “a fed bear is a dead bear.”
While you’re here, be sure to check out the other wildlife that you’ll find in the Cumberlands — including the second-largest elk population east of the Mississippi River! We also have several species of threatened or endangered songbirds, whitetail deer, eastern wild turkey, and even wild boar!
It’s not just bears that call the northern Cumberland Plateau home. The region is also home to a robust elk population — the second-largest elk population east of the Mississippi River, in fact! The North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area — the second-largest contiguous piece of public land in Tennessee — is home to the region’s thriving elk herd. There are both viewing and hunting opportunities for elk, and it isn’t unusual to see the majestic animals from Scott County’s public roadways, or to hear the thrilling sound of their bugling on crisp October mornings from along the many ATV trails that criss-cross the Cumberland Mountains. The combination of black bears and elk add to this region’s allure as a destination for wildlife viewers.
Big South Fork in pictures
Take a hike!
There are about 150 miles of trails in the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area that are open exclusively to hikers. Throw in the more than 200 miles of equestrian trails that are open to hikers, and that number swells to nearly 400! The Big South Fork is home to the long-distance John Muir Trail from Pickett State Forest to Burnt Mill Bridge, and the long-distance Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail from Morehead, Ky. to Honey Creek. Outside the BSF, the Cumberland Trail — a long-distance trail beginning at Cumberland Gap and ending in Chattanooga — passes through the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. There are also hundreds of miles of additional hiking trails within a 30-minute drive of Oneida. Lace up your boots and come join us!