Sheltowee, John Muir trails extended


The southern terminus of the John Muir Trail and the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail is now the Honey Creek Trailhead in the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, the National Park Service announced Wednesday.

Previously, the southern terminus of both trails was the Leatherwood Ford Trailhead further north in the Big South Fork. While the John Muir Trail officially extended all the way to Devil’s Den just south of the O&W Bridge, Leatherwood Ford was the last trailhead along the route.

The newest section of trail is 2.3 miles, connecting Honey Creek Trailhead with Devil’s Den above the O&W. The trail crosses Hurricane Ridge, which previously had no hiking trails blazed, and connects Devil’s Den to the popular Honey Creek Loop.

The new section of trail is blazed as both the John Muir Trail and the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail — allowing the Trace to extend 14 miles deeper into the Big South Fork NRRA.

“This new section of the John Muir Trail enables us to co-locate the Sheltowee Trace on some of the most beautiful, rugged terrain that showcases some of the best trail in the Big South Fork,” said Steve Barbour, executive director of the Sheltowee Trace Association. “We see this as another step forward toward our goal of eventually connecting the Trace to the Cumberland Trail.”

The Cumberland Trail runs through eastern Scott County’s North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area on its trek from near Chattanooga to the historic Cumberland Gap along the Tennessee-Virginia border.

The John Muir Trail, meanwhile, will eventually extend to Peter’s Ford on the south end of the Big South Fork NRRA.

In its totality, the Sheltowee Trace is a 319-mile trail. Created in 1979, it stretches from Honey Creek Loop in the Big South Fork to northern Rowan County, Ky. It traverses the Daniel Boone National Forest and was named after Daniel Boone, who was given the name Sheltowee by members of the Shawnee Tribe. “Sheltowee” means “Big Turtle,” and the signage used to emblazon the trail is that of a turtle symbol.

PHOTO: Contributed by Matt West, the photo shows Honey Creek Falls frozen over during cold weather. The waterfall is part of the Sheltowee Trace and John Muir trails in the Big South Fork NRRA.

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