Stand on the edge of the cliffs that line the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and a few of the small streams flowing into it between Leatherwood Ford and Station Camp, and it isn’t hard to imagine the Cherokee Indians that once inhabited these lands before the white man arrived standing on the rock outcroppings, scouting the river valley below.

When it comes to aerial views (from foot) of the Big South Fork, it’s hard to beat any one of the dozen or so marked overlooks scattered about the rim of the gorge north and south along the river. But if your idea of taking in the scenery and getting away from the day-trippers that head to places like East Rim and Blue Heron, it’s hard to beat a hike along the Grand Gap Loop.

A 6.8-mile loop trail along the west rim of the river gorge, Grand Gap Loop offers views that are simply spectacular — especially during the winter months, when there is no foliage to limit visibility.

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