A hiker is pictured at No Tell Falls, located off-trail near the John Muir Trail in the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area | Photo: Sarah Dunlap

Author: Big South Fork more spectacular than the Smokies

Posted on September 5th, 2020 | © DiscoverScott.com | All rights reserved

ONEIDA, Tenn. — Author Nancy Brown Diggs is impressed with the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.

Diggs, author of “In Search of Appalachia“, highlights the hidden jewels of the Appalachian region in her book, saying the rural region of the eastern U.S. is a great travel destination for families.

“I was really surprised by some of the spectacular scenery,” Diggs told the USA Today. “It’s a very welcoming group of people, and a lot cheaper than most places.”

The USA Today spotlighted 10 places throughout the region that should be high on anyone’s must-see list. Among them: the BSF.

“It may not be as well-known as the Smokies, but it’s much more spectacular,” Diggs said, comparing the Big South Fork to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The USA Today article points out the Victorian English village of Rugby on the park’s southern boundary, as well as the Big South Fork Scenic Railway and the Blue Heron ghost town.

The Big South Fork consists of 125,000 acres, making it the fifth-largest National Park Service unit in the eastern United States. As a national river and recreation area rather than a true national park, the BSF offers several unique recreational opportunities that other national parks do not. For instance, hunting is permitted throughout much of the parks, and it is the only place in Tennessee that has a special hunting season specifically for wild boar. The Big South Fork is also one of the few NPS units to embrace mountain biking, and the only national park to have trails designated as “epic” by the International Mountain Biking Association.

Although hundreds of thousands of people visit the BSF annually, it is a much quieter alternative to the Smokies. In fact, one Southern Living magazine feature once said that the Big South Fork is where rangers from the Smokies go to vacation. With 125,000 acres to explore, the Big South Fork offers ample opportunities to social distance; visitors often remark that they’re surprised to have hiking trails entirely to themselves.

If you would like to plan a visit to the Big South Fork, contact the Scott County Visitor Center (423-663-6900) for more information, or check out our lodging options.

Devils Cave, located off-trail near East Rim Overlook, is the largest slot cave in Tennessee | Photo: Jeff White