John Muir Trail to Honey Creek Loop - Hiking

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The John Muir Trail is a 4.3 mile route that connects to Honey Creek Loop near Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

Written by

Cinnamon Janzer


10.0 miles

4.3 miles and 5.7 miles, 10 miles total

Destination Distance From Downtown

111.8 miles


3 of 5 diamonds

This trail combination is a difficult one. You can split it up between two days if you’d like to camp, but traversing it in one will certainly be a force to be reckoned with that will take you across state lines. Once you get to Honey Creek, the trail becomes a technical challenge.

Time To Complete

2 days

1 - 2 days


Spring, Summer, and Fall

March - November

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Fees Permits




First forged by John Muir himself while making his way from Florida to Kentucky, the John Muir Trail is still adventurous in the modern day. Originally the JMT didn’t connect to Honey Creek Loop, but after it was extended in 2014, it made the route complete and hikers can now make their way across both (which are technically part of the larger Sheltowee National Recreation Trail).

What Makes It Great

Not far from Stearns, Kentucky in the heart of Daniel Boone National Forest is where you’ll find your way to this trail that eventually traverses into Tennessee and connects with Honey Creek Loop. Honey Creek Loop is where the real challenge comes in, as well as a lot of the beauty—you’re sure to see wildflowers galore if you go in the spring. Waterfall are numerous. Stretching across 5.7 miles and looping back, Honey Creek Loop is a good challenge for hikers—it’s considered to be the toughest in the Big South Fork area.

It’s easy to get lost since since the blazes are inconsistent, so you’ll really have to have your wits about you. But if you love a challenge and gorgeous nature to accompany it, you’ll fall in love with this trail combo pretty fast. In addition, you’ll have to scramble over rocks at several places where packing light will come in handy.

Opting for camping and splitting this combo up is really the best way to approach it because it makes for an excellent two day excursion that allows you to go slower and take everything in.

Who is Going to Love It

History loving hiking buffs will enjoy this route that John Muir undertook himself. If you’ve dreamt of undertaking an epic and historic trail, starting off along the JMT and taking it into Tennessee towards Honey Creek is a beautiful way to kick off a southbound adventure. The trail isn’t for novices, but anyone with an appetite for hardy adventure will enjoy immersing themselves in the deep wilderness the JMT offers.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Stearns, KY is located along the Wilburn K. Ross Highway, otherwise known as KY-92.

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Honey Creek Loop

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