Cumberland Off-Road Club Enjoying The Great Outdoors
Editor: Eric Bewley Story/Photo: Bryan Zeigler
Cookeville, TN – Cumberland Off-Road takes an annual fall ride at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. It is a beautiful park that covers parts of middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. It offers a nice relaxing ride that is fun for every level of off-road vehicle. The area offers miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, trout fishing, and four-wheeling.
This year we decided to run the east branch of the South Loop Trail. The South Loop Trail is an old Railroad bed that travels through the hills of Tennessee along the Clear Fork of the Big South Fork River.
We gathered at 9:30 in Clarkrange, Tennessee to caravan the 35 miles to the trailhead. To my surprise there was a parking lot full of 4×4s ready to ride. After a quick count I thought that I would be leading 15 trucks through the park. As the caravan pulled out, we received a call that there were more trucks on the way and they would catch up to us at the trailhead. With a group of 17 trucks ranging from 2 bone stock Jeeps to monster mountain rigs on 42s, we were ready for a good day of riding.
We accessed the trail at the Zenith River Access just east of Allardt, TN. If you visit Big South Fork and plan to take this route plan ahead of the weather. The River was running about average depth this weekend and the trail consists of 3 major water crossings. After a rain the river crossings can get deep and swift making the crossing all but impossible for stock vehicles, and difficult for built vehicles.
We crossed the river and traveled east along the old railroad bed enjoying the scenery of the river and mountains. This is a beautiful place to visit any time of the year, but the fall is best. We missed the fall colors by one weekend due to heavy rains knocking the leaves off early this year. This twelve-mile section of the trail can easily be done in an afternoon, even with taking the time to stop and enjoy the numerous beautiful views. The end of the ride is the most event full. Within the last two miles, you have a wide river crossing that you have to pick your line carefully or 42s will disappear under the surface of the river, followed by a rocky play area on the side of the trail (great for smaller rides, but not much for the big rigs), with a shocker for those that are scared of heights. The last 100 yards is an old, steel and timber railroad bridge the hangs 100 over the water surface. The bridge is perfectly stable, but a few on the ride found themselves drag racing to get across it as fast as possible.
If you ever get to the Middle Tennessee/Southern Kentucky area I would highly recommend a trip to Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. They have many activities for the entire family, including; Hiking, camping, rafting, four wheeling, horseback riding, fishing, hunting and much more. For more information on the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area visit: