Big South Fork

Made possible by

Photos

About

Summary

Paddling Big South Fork is an off-the-beaten-path and humbling experience. Many paddlers have had to swim in big holes and sieves, but the stunning beauty of the gorges is the real takeaway.

Written by

Ed McAlister

Destination Distance From Downtown

52.3 miles

Difficulty

3 of 5 diamonds

3

Time To Complete

Full Day

Seasonality

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

No

Fees Permits

None

Topographical Map

Link to Map

Land Website

Link to Website

Review

Big South Fork is one of the most beautiful- and most hidden- jewels in East Tennessee's Cumberland Plateau. The Fork is formed by the convergence of the New River and Clear Fork, and provides paddlers with Class II-IV rapids through spectacular gorge scenery. This paddling adventure is remote, providing a true wilderness experience. 
There are a few different takeouts. I recommend the 6.2 mile run from the confluence of New River and Clear Fork to Leatherwood Ford, where you'll be greeted by warm restrooms to change into dry clothes. An additional takeout is at the O&W Railroad bridge, but Leatherwood is by far the most accessible. 
Paddling Big South Fork is an off-the-beaten-path and humbling experience. Many paddlers have had to swim in big holes and sieves, but the stunning beauty of the gorges is the real takeaway. 

Location

Big South Fork

Rugby, TN,
36.470717, -84.651374

Get Directions