Blue Heron Campground is a rustic and spacious campground, situated on the Kentucky side of The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area--a vast and scenic expanse of land that offers visitors countless recreational activities.
Numerous trails snake through the Recreation Area, offering mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding for visitors.
The main river of the Big South Fork is also a short drive away, offering fishing opportunities.
Blue Heron Campground combines the experience of traditional woods camping with the modern convenience of flush toilets, hot showers and electric hookups. Sites can accommodate both RV and tent camping.
The campsites are spacious and provide picnic areas and plenty of shade.
The Big South Fork is located in north central Tennessee and southeastern Kentucky in some of the most rugged terrain of the Cumberland Plateau. The park encompasses approximately 125,000 acres of both rocky gorges and forested plateaus.
Numerous pristine streams unite with the free-flowing Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Over thousands of years, this ceaselessly moving water has carved the sandstone of the plateau into impressive cliffs, arches and chimneys that are found throughout the park.
Just a few miles from the campground is Blue Heron Mine, also known as Mine 18, a historic abandoned mining town that has been rebuilt as an outdoor museum. Visitors can hear audio presentations from actual people who lived in the community in the 1950s. The Big South Fork Scenic Railway Depot is located about 9 miles away in the town of Stearns, which offers train rides and other educational opportunities for campers. More information can be found online at https://bsfsry.com. Additional attractions include the Daniel Boone National Forest and Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, offering additional recreation opportunities.
ADA Access: N
The campground has all of the glamping necessities. Water hook-up, electrical, dumping station, clean hot water showers, etc. It's pet friendly and the campground is very clean. The location is excellent for those who love rock climbing (sport and trad), easy and moderate level hiking, white water kayaking, or maybe want to spend a day or two also doing some backcountry camping. There are bears and other curious wildlife so make sure to keep your stuff in the provided bear boxes!
Blue Heron Campground near Trail town Stearns, Ky is my go to when I’m exploring this area.
There are SEVERAL excellent camping locations throughout Daniel Boone National Forest, each has its own atmosphere:) Blue Heron Campground is very basic but reminds me of a little oasis on top of the hill surrounded by adventure (LMAO, lame). Anyway, you have some choices, the driveway in has several sites in a row, more vehicle teaffic but plenty of room to set up your toys. The first loop is just past the dump site with the playground in the middle and showerhouse nearby, not a lot of shade. The back loop to the right offers more privacy and less traffic, more shade also.
The main attraction aside from the extensive trail system in the Blue Heron area is the Blue Heron Mining town and the actual Site at the bottom of the hill.
You can ride the old train from Stearns https://bsfsry.com/to the tipple at the bottom. I took a friend for his birthday a few years ago and we got to ride in the actual locomotive section. Cool stuff if that’s your thing.
As far as the trails go they take you to some awesome overlooks, waterfalls and historic sites. Take a hydration and overnight pak in case of wrong turn ;)
We stayed here while spending some time in the Big South Fork and other parts of the Daniel Boone National Forest. This relatively small 45 site campground can accommodate tents, campers and RVs and for only $17/night it's a steal! If camping in an RV, be sure to check out the facilities map because not all sites can fit large RVs. https://www.nps.gov/biso/planyourvisit/upload/Blue-Heron-Campground-Map-and-Regs-2014.pdf
There are restrooms available (no showers) and trash receptacles. We managed to see a black bear, so be sure you secure your food appropriately to minimize human and bear encounters. The campground is only open April through November.
We spent some time exploring the Natural Arch Scenic area as well, a short 30 minute drive from the campground.
Quite secluded, yet a great launching point to hiking and biking trails of all difficulties. This visit was for running the Yamakraw 20K, and resulted in some astonishing views of Big South Fork River! Campsites were very large, with ample room between to allow for privacy, yet everyone is nesseled into an almost level area which makes setting up easy. Plenty of bear resistant containers for trash and food storage. Shower and bath house centrally located, clean and warm. Did not have any interaction with Park personnel, but locals in Sterns were very friendly and helpful. Will visit again!
You have to love the roads into the campgrounds at several of these parks. All I can say is tighten your seat belt and hold on. The entire Daniel Boone system has breath taking views and memorable areas. Heron was almost empty when I was there for the inaugural Yamacraw 50K. Even that early in the season though it was well maintained. Clean bath house and nice, well spaced hookups. The trail, oh my! I LOVE this area. If you can do the park from top to bottom you will not be disappointed by the views, waterfalls, rock formations and varied terrain.