The Best Horse Trails at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Nestled in the Cumberland Plateau of eastern Tennessee and southern Kentucky, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area offers some of the most picturesque and diverse horseback riding trails in the United States. Boasting 212,000 acres of scenic beauty, the park provides equestrian enthusiasts with endless opportunities to explore its vast wilderness. From rocky cliffs to lush valleys, here are some of the best horse trails in this remarkable outdoor haven.
1. Twin Arches Loop Trail
One of the most popular horseback riding trails at Big South Fork is the Twin Arches Loop Trail. This 7.5-mile trail takes riders on an unforgettable journey through dense forests, rocky outcrops, and serene meadows before reaching the awe-inspiring Twin Arches, which are among the largest natural arches in the country. With its moderate difficulty level, this trail allows riders of all experience levels to enjoy the beauty of the park.
2. Laurel Fork North Loop Trail
For those seeking a more challenging and longer adventure, the Laurel Fork North Loop Trail is the perfect choice. Covering a distance of approximately 12 miles, this trail takes riders along the scenic Laurel Fork Creek, providing breathtaking views of its sparkling waters cascading over moss-covered rocks. Along the way, riders will also encounter several creek crossings, making it an exhilarating and refreshing experience.
3. John Muir Wilderness Trail
Named after the famous naturalist, the John Muir Wilderness Trail offers riders a tranquil and secluded escape into the heart of the park. Clocking in at around 11 miles, this trail winds through the stunning John Muir Overlook, offering panoramic views of the Big South Fork River below. Riders can also explore unique rock formations, such as Needle Arch and Chimney Rock, which add an extra element of wonder to this memorable journey.
4. Bear Creek Loop Trail
Situated on the northernmost edge of the park, the Bear Creek Loop Trail is a true hidden gem for horseback riders. Spanning approximately 8 miles, this trail takes riders through dense forests and along the banks of the picturesque Bear Creek. Along the way, riders can marvel at the stunning rock formations and rugged cliffs that line the trail, providing a sense of adventure and natural beauty.
5. Angel Falls Overlook
Although slightly shorter in length, the Angel Falls Overlook trail offers riders the opportunity to witness cascading waterfalls in all their glory. Clocking in at just under 5 miles, this trail leads riders through hemlock forests and along steep cliffs before rewarding them with breathtaking views of the Angel Falls Rapids below. This trail is perfect for riders seeking a shorter but equally awe-inspiring ride.
Before embarking on any horseback riding adventure in Big South Fork, it is essential to obtain a backcountry permit, which can be obtained from the park's visitor center. Additionally, riders should ensure they have the appropriate equipment, including a properly fitted saddle, extra water, and a first aid kit.
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area truly offers equestrian enthusiasts a remarkable riding experience. With its diverse landscapes, unique geological formations, and secluded trails, this stunning outdoor playground is a haven for horse lovers seeking a memorable and breathtaking riding adventure. Whether you are a seasoned rider or a beginner, Big South Fork has trails suitable for all levels of experience, making it an ideal destination for your next horseback riding getaway.