Deadline for July issue is June 24
This month I spent time riding in Big South Fork National Park on the Cumberland Plateau. I stayed at Timber Ridge Horse Campground in Jamestown, Tenn. for several days and rode the diverse set of trails they offer there. Timber Ridge has been around for many years and has been a mainstay for Big South Fork trail riders. As a matter of fact, it’s where I got my start as a trail/obstacle clinician so many years ago. Today, the campground still maintains its horse obstacle course in the forest alongside the grounds.
This facility has a cozy feel and intimate atmosphere with its two horse barns right in the center of the horseshoe shaped camping area. This layout makes it super easy to step outside your camper door and see your horse anytime.
The amenities of Timber Ridge are on par with most campgrounds, including 24 pull-through and back-in sites with water and electric hookups plus a dump station, and each campsite is equipped with a picnic table and fire ring. For those who do not have living quarters, there are three rustic cabins that are heated and cooled with their own porch to sit on and, as a bonus for campers, there’s a full kitchen and dining hall with propane grills, a shower house, and Wi-Fi.
For the horses there are two barns with lights and water, boasting fifty 10x10 stalls, eight corrals, several turnouts, two wash bays, and several hitching rails conveniently located throughout the grounds. Something I especially appreciate is that they sell shavings, hay, firewood, and ice on site. I always prefer this over hauling everything with me.
Timber Ridge has some of the best riding in Tennessee, too. There are four trailheads that lead out of the campground giving you direct access to over 200 miles of riding on Big South Fork National Park trails and twenty-five miles of privately owned trails on RTTA (Ridge Toppers Trail Association) Property.
While there are many sights to see in Big South Fork, the closest trail destination and one of my favorites in the heat of the Summer is Hippy Cave, located just a couple of miles from the campground. Hippy Cave is a hidden gem with a rock overhang in the bottom of a forested valley and is a natural wonder with waterfalls in the rainy season. While you cannot ride your horse into the protected area, the park service has provided hitching rails to tie off to and a short path to hike into the area.
Another trail that makes Timber Ridge so popular is the RTTA trail. This is a privately owned and groomed trail of the Ridge Top Trail Association situated adjacent to Timber Ridge Campground. One of my favorite destinations on this path is Bear Cave. This rock overhang is situated in the bend of a crystal-clear stream and offers riders the opportunity to tie their horses to a high line and rest at the picnic table in a natural amphitheater of green grass, rock walls, and the sounds of the nearby babbling stream. The terrain on these two trails is a mixture of sandy soil, sandstone, and the occasional gravel bed brought in to prevent erosion. Some areas can be muddy during the wet season and there are areas where erosion has taken its toll on the landscape, creating step downs and ditches; but both trails are well maintained and marked with plenty of signage and the Big South Fork trails have posted numbers along the way so that you can give your exact location in case of emergency. There are trails available to suit any level of rider so be sure to ask for a map when you check in at the office.
I have so many great memories of my time in Big South Fork, memories of riding good horses with great friends through some of the most breathtaking views and overlooks in Tennessee, to playing a guitar and singing songs around a campfire. Some of my most cherished of all these memories have been made at Timber Ridge Horse Campground. For information on Tennessee trail destinations, visit Josh’s online trail directory at www.tnhorsetrails.com.
You can also find information at: https://timberridgehorsecampground.com/and at https://www.nps.gov/biso/index.htm.
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