“Run along (or take a dip in) the Clear Fork River - this is a great trail for a hot summer day.”
— Max Willner
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Wildflowers
Big South Fork is always open.
Need to Know
Right off the bat, this trail starts climbing into some interesting rock formations. There are a couple stream crossings before even getting a mile in. Be sure to keep an eye out for the abundance of rock overhangs along this loop.
About 1.4 miles in is a junction with the John Muir Trail: Big South Fork NRA
. To continue on the loop, stay left and cross a footbridge. About 2 miles in, the trail sides up with the river again. There's a campsite along the river, but it's important to note when and if flooding may occur - it may not always be a good campsite.
At around 3.3 miles is another campsite and another stream crossing, followed by a large overhang before heading back to the starting point of this loop. One of the most popular swimming holes in this area is just below Burnt Mill Bridge - a great way to conclude this run!
Flora & Fauna
This is a great area to see the wildflowers in spring and early summer, such as hepatica, trout lily, trillium, and toothwort. The National Park Service distinguishes the vegetation zones within Big South Fork into two categories: the area within the gorge, and the higher elevation area surrounding it. More information on the wide variety of plants can be found on the park'swebsite
Big South Fork is known to have over 60 species of fish, along with a wide variety of mammals such as black bear, white-tailed deer, elk, raccoons, bobcats, and gray foxes. There are also over 160 species of birds to be found in Big South Fork in varying times of the year.