Spring Activities at the Big South Fork

As the flowers bloom, trees awaken, and birds chatter, the Cumberland Plateau also comes alive with unique activities.

Mother Nature has been known to kick off spring with some rainy days (sometimes even snow!) on the Cumberland Plateau, but it doesn't take long to transition into much warmer days. You can expect temperatures in the upper 50's to even the low 70's. The weather is definitely a contributing factor in making the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area a four-season park. While hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and horseback riding are popular activities during the spring months, there are some other more unique activities that attract visitors to the Big South Fork.

Rain or shine, there are many fun ways to get out and enjoy the Big South Fork during the spring season.

Plowing mules

Annual Spring Planting and Music Festival

Take a step back in time and experience how residents of the Big South Fork area used to live! Spring is a time for new beginnings and growth and for many of the mountain families back in the day this meant preparing their crops and a lot of chores. The Annual Spring Planting and Music Festival is a family-friendly event that features live music, demonstrations of life back then, and live plowing and planting with mules and horses at the Lora Blevins field!

Canoeing in the early morning hours


Though not directly at the Big South Fork, you can meet up with a park ranger at nearby Pickett State Park for an early morning or a late evening adventurous canoe tour! Enjoy the unique experience of paddling around Arch Lake and taking in the beautiful scenery of Pickett State Park during these relaxing hours. Boats are available for rent or you may bring your own.


Rain or shine, Laurel Fork Rustic Retreat has your lodging covered when visiting Big South Fork NRRA and Pickett State Park! Enjoy outdoor adventures while staying in a deluxe cabin with amenities that make your stay relaxing and easy.

Check Availability and book your spring stay today!


Visit the old abandoned coal mining town of Blue Heron and enjoy a day of food, music, and remembrance of a time long ago. The Blue Heron mining community is now an outdoor museum with themed "ghost structures" (school, church, etc.) constructed on the original building sites. Photographs, artifacts, and audio recordings from people who lived life in the mining town all work together to bring Blue Heron back to life. Blue Heron is accessible by car, however, the most adventurous way is by the Big South Fork Scenic Railway!

whitewater kayaker


The Big South Fork River is a dynamic system that can change drastically overnight. It's no wonder whitewater paddling is popular during the spring months! Depending on rainfall in the area, you may see Class III rapids all the way up to Class V+ rapids. You can bring your own paddle boats, such as canoes and kayaks, but if you are not comfortable tackling the river on your own contact one of the local guides to help you out!