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5.6 miles

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Added by Katie Cate

This rugged and scenic loop is located  close to Knoxville, TN for a short day hike or an overnight trip.

The trailhead of the  5.6-mile Honey Creek outer loop can be found at the Big South Fork National River - Honey Creek Trailhead Overlook in Robbins, TN  37852.

This trail is marked by dark green blazes and is one of the park's most challenging to hike. While the trail is rugged, it is easy to get lost on false trails.

Hiking the Honey Creek Loop counterclockwise, the trail begins up a flight of steps on the right side of the gravel access road below the upper parking area. The route starts off easy as the trail crosses the ridgetop through the woods.

After half a mile, the trail starts to descend along a small unnamed drainage. Below the cliff line the rhododendron gets thicker, the white pines taller, and the creek gathers momentum. Even at this early stage of the hike, it's easy to see why so many consider the Honey Creek Loop to be the Big South Fork's most scenic trail.

At 1.54 miles into the hike the trail passes in front of Echo Rock, a massive cliff face that acts like a parabolic dish as it reflects the sound of the Big South Fork River a half-mile away. There's a sweet spot in front of Echo Rock where the sound of rushing water seems to emanate from the rock. Step five feet or so either way, and the effect is lost.

A few hundred yards beyond Echo Rock is a critical junction where the main Honey Creek Loop meets the short (.1 mile) trail up to the Honey Creek overlook. At the junction the overlook trail is marked by a small trail sign bearing the silhouette of two hikers. There are two ladders that traverse the bluff line, and from the overlook you can see a series of rapids that make this remote section of the free-flowing Big South Fork one of the top wilderness whitewater runs in the Southeast.

To continue on the main Honey Creek Loop Trail, bear right at the junction onto the descending trail. Soon you'll see a dark green trail blaze. For a short distance the trail comes to within 100 yards of the Big South Fork River, and from here, the hike gets interesting.

Just short of two miles into the hike the trail turns up Honey Creek, a narrow drainage that's as close to a slot canyon as you're likely to find in the southern U.S. At times the only way to make progress is to squeeze between the boulders that clog the creek channel. Suffice it to say this is not a hike to be attempted in high water or icy conditions.

At Indian Rockhouse you'll see one of the old ladder cages that date back to when Honey Creek was a Bowater pocket wilderness. At 3.35 miles the trail drops to the base of Boulder House Falls where a stream plunges between massive boulders that have tumbled into the gorge and come to rest on the creek bed.

After Boulder House Falls the trail crosses a large sandstone outcropping dominated by slow-growing pines and reindeer lichen.

Almost 4 miles into the hike is a short side trail on the left that leads to Honey Creek Falls. From here, the main trail ascends gradually through the woods back to the trailhead parking area on the ridgetop.

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Leave No Trace

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