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The Volunteer State

Big South Fork National Recreation Area is a vast wilderness in northeast Tennessee. It is a rugged landscape that is heavily forested. Located about an hour north of Knoxville, this unspoiled park encompasses more than 125,000 acres on the Cumberland Plateau. It is a popular place for horseback riding, and hiking, and has more than 180 miles of trails. It is quite likely that if you visit during a weekday, that you may never see another person.

The real attraction at Big South Fork is the arches. Two large arches known as Twin Arches are the most easily accesible. They are about a mile from the trailhead and hikers must descend down steep stairs to get there. These sandstone arches are as big as many of the ones as Arches National Park in Utah. Unlike those arches, the ones at Big South Fork are surrounded by trees. Big South Fork is so big that some of the locals believe there are hidden arches yet to be discovered.

If you go to the western section of the park, but sure to take the trail to Slave Falls. This waterfall is not the widest or highest by any standards, but its setting is serene and unspoiled. As its name suggests, Slave Falls was a hideout for slaves during the 1800's. After you park your car, it is an easy mile hike. Needle Arch is another half-mile beyond and worth checking out.

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