ROBBINS, Tenn. — Hikers who are following the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area’s Centennial Challenge will lace up their boots and head south to the Burnt Mill Loop Trail on Saturday.
Burnt Mill will be the site of this week’s ranger-led hike. The BSF is conducting the hikes, which are guided by interpretive ranger Mary Grimm, every other week as part of the Centennial Challenge.
Burnt Mill is a 4.2-mile loop that is rated moderate in difficulty. It begins and ends at the Burnt Mill Bridge at Clear Fork River west of Robbins.
Of the short hikes within the BSF’s trail system, Burnt Mill Loop is one of the more scenic. From the trailhead, the trail follows Clear Fork upstream, traveling along the stream’s sandy bank, where there are several spots for hikers to take off their shoes and wade into the river to cool themselves from the heat of late spring.
The trail eventually leaves the river and climbs to the top of the plateau through a series of switchbacks. From there, it meanders across a ridge through open hardwood forests, at one point crossing Honey Creek Road.
Finally, the trail descends back to the river, following Clear Fork upstream as it returns to the parking lot.
The portions of the trail that follow the river feature a mix of bluffs and wet-weather waterfalls, hemlock forests and interesting rock formations.
The Centennial Challenge encourages visitors to the BSF to complete 100 miles — either by foot, horseback, boat or bike — during the 2016 calendar year as the National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary. In all, there are more than 500 miles of trails and whitewater in the BSF for visitors to choose from.
The challenge is self-paced, although the park does offer the ranger-led hikes every other week. To date, the hikes have explored such places as the Boyatt home place, Blue Heron Loop and Gobblers Knob.
Saturday’s hike at Burnt Mill will depart the trailhead at 10 a.m. Hikers should take water, snacks, comfortable shoes, and be prepared for a half-day hike. Well-behaved dogs are welcomed, but must be leashed.
To get to the Burnt Mill Trailhead, take Old Highway 27 from U.S. Hwy. 27 in the New River community, then follow the signs through the Mountain View, Black Creek and Black Creek Crossroads neighborhoods.
The next hike to be guided by rangers will be Rock Creek Loop on May 28.