Sheltowee Trace NRT: Big South Fork NRA
ElevationAscent: 4,831' 1,472 m
Descent: -4,859' -1,481 m
High: 1,620' 494 m
Low: 886' 270 m
GradeAvg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 41% (22°)
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“One of the most scenic sections of the Sheltowee Trace.”— Chris Davis
About 11 miles in, you'll come to some decent sheltered camping along the banks of No Business Creek. That will give you a nice boost of energy for climbing back to the top before your descent to the Big South Fork. You'll see Station Camp Creek Trail follow that up Charit Creek for about 4 miles until you reach Charit Creek Lodge. It's a great place to relax, just make your reservation well in advance. After some time well spent in the company of other like minded runners (you can only reach Charit Creek Lodge by foot or horse), saddle back up and head down Charit Creek Trail; the next few miles are about all the rest you'll get for the next couple of days, so enjoy it!
Continue on to the intersection of Fork Ridge Horse Trail and the Charit Connector, make sure you pay attention and don't miss the right turn onto Black House Branch Trail. Bear in mind you are on shared trails with horse riders, so be kind and considerate when paths cross. Your next intersection will be Laurel Fork Creek Trail, stay right on this and enjoy the last of the valley. In about a tenth of a mile split off from Laurel Fork Creek Trail and begin your ascent to the ridge.
After a hard climb, you'll level off; look for a split in the trail and keep right, this is a section of nice graded gravel road and is part of Jacks Ridge Loop. After this section, look for the sign pointing you to the Katie Trail which will shoot off to your left, and take you by the historic Laura Blevins Farm. Just past the farm, look for a clearing. Katie will continue to the left, but you'll want to shoot right to end up on the edge of the trail and see signs for Oscar Blevins Loop Trail. Keep left and to the road, follow behind the pool and connect with John Litton Farm Hike Loop at the intersection of A Loop and Duncan Hollow.
Roughly 4 miles later split off from John Litton Farm Hike Loop and turn right on Fall Branch Trail. Take a break here and get ready to work your quads. At the intersection of Grand Gap Loop Trail, shoot right and take in the valley below from a couple of truly breathtaking overlooks and a great place to take in Angel Falls. This is also one of my favorite sections as it adds a cable handhold along a shear wall, which takes the adventure up a notch! Safely head down on the bottoms of the river, follow along this till you come to the O&W Bridge, cross over and take another rest.
Time to climb! The next mile is more or less straight up, but the views behind you are a great reason to stop for a rest now and then. After the climb is finished, and a couple miles into your next break, you'll see a trail to the left for Indian Rock House. Take this instead of staying on the trail, and you treat yourself to one of the largest Rock House's in the region. Stay right on Honey Creek, and you are back on the trail.
When you cross Beaver Creek, about a tenth of a mile past you'll see a side trail; take a break here and have a snack at the falls if the water is running. The next trail intersection will be for Burnt Mill, stick left and cross the road. After what you have seen in the last 50 miles this might seem anti-climatic, but the creek you'll be following is just beautiful every season of the year, and a fantastic spot to soak your weary feet. Grab your ride at the HoneyCreek Trailhead, and one more photo op on the burnt mill bridge!
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Land Manager: NPS - Big South Fork Nat. River and Rec. Area Office