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Big South Fork NRRA - Honey Creek Overlook
Site Description and Habitats
This site is home to the spectacular scenery provided by the noted scenic overlook of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. The National Park Service manages this designated State Natural Area. The trail to the overlook is fairly short. However, there is also the option to hike the Honey Creek Loop Trail, which originates at the parking lot. It is a difficult trail with rock scrambling and slow travel times. Wear sturdy hiking boots and allow at least five (5) hours to complete the trail.
The gorge forest at Honey Creek is a diverse mixed mesophytic forest comprised of tulip poplar, eastern hemlock, basswood, magnolia, yellow buckeye, beech, maples, oaks and hickories and other tree species. The ever-present rhododendron thicket is common here. The upland is a typical dry plateau oak - pine forest. There are small sandstone openings that form glades on exposed bluffs.
Bird species of interest
Spring and Fall Migration: Warblers, vireos, and thrushes are often common across the area. Louisiana Waterthrush, Eastern Phoebe, Chipping Sparrow, Tennessee, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Blue-winged, and Blackpoll Warbler can be common. Eastern Whip-poor-wills can be very abundant (mostly heard only) in spring and early summer at dusk and especially on nights with a full moon.
Summer: Ovenbird, Hooded Warbler, and Scarlet Tanager. Louisiana Waterthrush, Acadian Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Worm-eating Warbler, Northern Parula, Swainson's Warbler.
Winter: Woodland birding can be slow, but look for Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creeper, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglet, and sparrows may occur along forest edges. Northern Saw-whet Owls have been found in the past.
Year-Round: Barred and Eastern Screech-Owl are regular, resident species including Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, among other residents are common.
Species list via eBird Hotspot Explorer - there's only one hotspot for Big South Fork and it isn't for Honey Creek Overlook
Submit your data to eBird here
Detailed directions for birding Honey Creek Overlook
From Oneida, take U.S. Highway 27 south to Mountain View Road (follow the signs for Burnt Mill Bridge). At Burnt Mill Bridge continue heading west. At the intersection of Honey Creek Road and the Honey Creek Trail Overlook Road, turn right (north) and follow the Honey Creek Trailhead Overlook Road to the overlook parking lot. You will reach the trailhead parking lot before reaching the overlook. From Jamestown, take TN 52 to Allardt. Continue heading east on Hwy 52 for 5.5 miles. Turn onto Mt. Helen Road, then Old Mt. Helen Road, following the signs for Burnt Mill Bridge. At the intersection of Honey Creek Road and the Honey Creek Trail Overlook Road, turn left (north) and follow the road to the overlook parking lot. (Burnt Mill Bridge is further east). You will reach the trailhead parking lot before reaching the overlook.
Lat-Long (GPS) coordinates
Honey Creek Loop Entrance: 36.42034, -84.6504
There's a nice list of other access points and trails at Big South Fork on Dr. Steve Stedman's web site here.
Additional information on bird species and abundances at the Big South Fork here.
Fees and Hours
Open daylight hours, year round however some areas are open 24 hrs a day. No fee for birding and hiking, however there are fees for camping and other activities.
There are restroom and camping facilities.
Please refer to TWRA Hunting Guide about hunting seasons and public access dates. Access dates vary by site.
Big South Fork NRRA
Info for other sites
Tennessee's Watchable Wildlife web site