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Big South Fork is the perfect place for the outdoor enthusiast. Literally anything you want to do, you can find it here- horseback riding, ATV riding, hiking, biking, rock climbing, kayaking, backpacking, camping, fishing, hunting, swimming… I could go on, but you get the point. I have spent a lot of time here, and it’s at the top of my list for places in the Southeast. The Big South Fork river is some of the best smallmouth fishing around. I love the backcountry camping in BSF, it’s so peaceful, and beautiful. There are several campsites that people have made stone firepits and log/rock seating, it has the feel of the AT without as many people. The Burnt Mill area is awesome, but the hike can be challenging, but it is so worth it. You can find a great backcountry site off of nearly every trail in there. I love to stop by a local staple for a good cheeseburger basket and a milkshake at Flonnies Drive In on the corner of hwy 63 and hwy 27, if you get the chance, treat yourself!
You will drive and drive and drive…and drive on the gravel road. However the road is good and the signage will get you there! Follow the little tent signs to Little Lick Horse Camp in the woods of Daniel Boone NF. The Nathan McClure trailhead is in the campground so there will be other traffic coming in. There are a few good size sites, with picnic table, fire ring and not much else. This is primitive, to include no toilet so bring your bucket or whatever you use…..remember Leave No Trace ;) Dark and starry skies, quiet and woodsy….try not to think about any scary wood based movies. Horses, llamas, trail bikes and dogs would be perfect for this campground. The sites are big enough for more then one tent or hammock. There are several other nice/challenging trails nearby and the Rattlesnake Motorcycle route in the area.
Off Ky Rt 80 in Daniel Boone National Forest, keep following the tent signs , they will get you to Little Lick Campground. This is a primitive little campground out in the middle of nowhere, however there are several awesome trailheads in the area, Nathan McClure TH right in the campground.
Bring your horse, bring your trail bike, bring your dogs. You might want to bring a generator too. Not a lot of sites but they are big and you can easily have several tents or hammocks ( if there’s trees) in each spot.
Quiet and dark and STARS.
Barren River State Resort Park
Barren River State Resort Park is small but it offers a lot of options.
The campground is off by itself, quiet , with separate areas and pull through options. The campground is somewhat maintained and the sites are somewhat level. I like the back in sites with shade and a small patio to set up on. They have small asphalt pads so you will get your backing skills tested. The middle sites, (I was in site 45 top of the hill, pull thru) are on a hill which ends at the water with a boat ramp and small beach area. I huffed and puffed up and down the hill several times! There is a short trail near the boat ramp, more for fisher folk then a good hike. It ends at a small inlet. You have a strip of grass to your uphill side to use, otherwise not much privacy. The middle sites have pretty much no shade and we sweltered our middays , chasing the limited shade. The showers are newer, air conditioned and clean. Showers are spacious with seating and wall hooks. Luke warm water, which definitely makes for quick showers! A good way to enforce water conservation, lol.
If you are a biker you have some hills to climb in the park. There is a walk/bike trail around the golfing greens, with a dirt trail off the backside. The stable may still be closed. I did not check if they had started a new contract due to Covid restrictions. LOTS of boating options. Bring your own or rent. The lake is huge and busy with a marina. There’s a beach that you will want to drive to, to long of a walk and I didn’t find any cut through trails from our section of the campground.
Two cool events to check out are the Highland Games, ( men in skirts throwing things)and the Bourbonfest a newer event.
Local grocery w/i 10 miles, antiques, restaurants (Funky Paradise Point) and Mammoth Cave, Cave City attractions as well as an Amish Market in Scottsville and seasonal Farmers Market in Glasgow.
The only reason I went with 4 stars is the fact that the camping spots are a little close together for my liking. Other than that, the staff were very nice, there are great amenities, and the bathrooms were clean. We would not hesitate to camp here again.
I love the way this campground is set up. Sites are in sections in small loops. Very good for families. Kids can ride their bikes around the circle. Playgrounds are everywhere. Very clean. Full hookups. Nice pool and mini golf too! Only downfall here is their isn’t really a place to access gorgeous dale hollow lake without a boat… we could see it with a small drive but there isn’t a beach on the KY side. I also wish they would have mentioned the length to water hookup. We ended up having to go buy a longer water hose bc the hookup was more than 30 foot away. We now keep a 50 foot hose, but didn’t realize at the time there was actually hookups that far away.
Big South Fork NRRA is definitely one of my favorite places in Tennessee. It stretches into Kentucky’s too. So much to do and see, and the hiking and camping is equal to the Smokies in my opinion, except there’s no crowds, no traffic, not many people! It’s great! There’s a few campgrounds in BSF, like Bandy Creek and Station Camp,and they are excellent spots, but the backcountry is where it’s at n the BSF! I have found so many excellent camp sites along the river and in the forest, and I’ve always been able to find one with plenty of privacy on any given weekend. There’s lots of hiking, 4-wheeling, fishing, swimming, mountain biking, horse riding, kayaking, rock climbing, etc here. The possibilities are endless! The sounds at night are so peaceful and relaxing, and the lightning bugs put on quite a show in the summer! I tried to make a video, I don’t think you can see them, but you can hear the woods at night!
We stayed in one of the rooms in the main lodge for 3 nights. In order to reach Charit Creek Lodge, you need to hike in. We parked and started at the Twin Arches trail head. It is a 1.7 mile walk in. Dinner and breakfast were included. There meals are simply fantastic. Audrey is a great cook and you can tell everything was fresh made. If you stay multiple nights, you even get a lunch bag. The lodge has no electricity so you want to bring a flashlight or a headlamp. They have showers and flush toilets in a separate bathhouse. From the lodge there are many trails to explore they area. We were very pleased with our stay and would recommend it to everybody. The staff was super nice and they made sure we always had everything.
The campgrounds were clean and well maintained, the vault toilets were clean and stocked. Water spigots were available at the campground, but no dump station or trash cans. So be prepared to pack your shit out. The sites are spread out well and not overcrowded. There are two separate areas, the first loop on the right side of the road is called deer loop. Down the road, is Racoon loop which is on the left side of the road. I would rate these as primitive sites.