Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area on top of Cumberland Plateau in East Tennessee, is considered the trail riding capital of the East. Hundreds of miles of well maintained trails, with spectacular views, make the area the best riding around. Difficulty levels vary and are suitable for novice and advanced riders. Wagoneers have a variety of trails to choose from too.
The plateau is painted with breathtaking canyon like bluff views, rock formations, waterfalls and rivers. Equestrian exclusive areas with wide sandy trails make your experience one worth repeating.
Historic Charit Creek Lodge, built in 1817, located deep in Big South Fork Country, is accessible only by horseback, foot, or mountain bike. The lodge was built where Charit Creek meets Station Camp Creek and rests in a beautiful valley pasture surrounded by magnificent bluffs.
Hatfield Ridge Trail connects to Charit Creek Overlook, which is a great place to picnic and enjoy the scenery. There are hitching posts for horses and a huge rock to sit on and enjoy the scenery for lunch. Hatfield Ridge Trail merges into South Fork River Station Camp Crossing, one of only 2 horse crossings on The Big South Fork River.
The rivers and streams have been a major force in creating the dramatic canyon-like landscape of the area today. As the streams have cut downward into the sandstone, which caps the plateau, they have carved out gorges and canyons, leaving behind cliffs, natural arches, rock shelters, and waterfalls. Elevations are not extreme, but do change suddenly. They range from 1800 feet along the highest ridge tops to 800 feet along the river. The park service has several horse camps to stay at, Bandy Creek Stables, Station Camp East Horse Camp and Bear Creek Horse Camp, which are spread out across the park.
Several privately owned horse camps bordering the park have direct trail access and others offer amenities including equestrian exclusive trails, meals, music, trail guide service, arena events and more.
East Fork Stables and Timber Ridge Horse Camp are located on the western edge; Zenith Horse Camp and Horsebacker Retreat are located on the southern edge; Saddle Valley, Big South Fork Lodge and Wildwood Lodge are centrally located with excellent trails and park access.
Another favorite place to ride is the Coyle Branch Trail, which proceeds down to the O&W Railroad bed where you can ride for miles along the White Oak Creek. The White Oak Creek runs into the South Fork River not far from the O&W Railroad Bridge. This bridge was moved to its current location over the South Fork River in 1914.