Big South Fork, Kentucky (KY)


Big South Fork, Kentucky
United States
36° 29' 11.4" N, 84° 41' 54.6" W

Big South Fork, Kentucky is home to the Daniel Boone National Forest, the Big South Fork National River, and some of the most scenic and uncharted rock climbing opportunities in the state. The river basin itself is littered with massive boulders some 50' tall, offering tons of bouldering opportunities.  The particular area of Big South Fork that is charted is called Blue Heron. Outlying is an historic preserved mining town, the sounds of coal trains and dynamite have all dissipated, leaving you the whispers of the beavers, wild turkeys, and blue herons that still roam the territory.  That is unless you’ve brought your iPod along for the climb.

Climbing Routes

Blue Heron- 5.7-5.12b This area is easy to get to and holds several fun and long adventurous routes.

  • Block Party- 5.7 Once you have conquered this huge pillar with one bolt, you will want to throw a party of your own. (Sport)
  • Song of the Sirens- 5.10a  Just to the right of the Block Party, this sport climb is pumpy and long, perfect for intermediate climbers.
  • Scylla- 5.10a This route lies on the same pillar as Block Party, but holds many more bolts and a few extra tricky moves. (Sport)
  • Murphy to Manteo- 5.10d You may think you have got it made on this climb, doubting that it is truly a 10, until you reach the deep pockets and hard pulls that will try your strength and flexibility at the end of this climb. (Sport)
  • Morpheus- 5.11d The crux on this climb will make or break any climber. Send it and then scream from the rock tops. (Sport)
  • Carolina Club- 5.10b This steep slab lies just left of the amphitheater. The crux could get you on this one! The secret is the final hidden jug. (Sport)
  • Charybdis- 5.9 Great lines define this beginner’s route. (Sport)
  • Dead Souls- 5.12b At the bottom of the stairs you will find the jugs of your dreams just above your head.  Reach for your dreams. (Sport)
  • Mirror of Llunet- 5.11b Send this route without using the tree.  With several cruxes and crimps, it may take a few tries. (Sport)

Catabawa/The Carolina Training Wall- 5.7-5.9 Here there is more sandstone that awaits just downstream from the Pantheon Ampitheatre.

  • Campobello Beauty- 5.9 A thin slab that boasts a very tricky move after the last bolt.
  • The Widow Maker- 5.7 This 130 Foot wall is sure to teach every climber some new moves. (Traditional)
  • Puddin’ Jam- 5.7 Belay from the trees and enjoy this traditional climb.

O&W Wall- 5.8-5.12a

  • Cheap Seats- 5.10 This route has a great roof top exit, but be sure to watch rope drag.(Traditional)
  • Dog and Pony Show- 5.11 Two different starts take this route 50 feet up. (Traditional)
  • Suicide Blonde- 5.8 This series of ledges lead up to a crux that is not as difficult as it looks.  The final moves are pumpy and fun. Keep the chicken heads handy. (Traditional)
  • Under the Big Top- 5.12a More ledges will test your balance and coordination. (Traditional)

The Crack House- 5.10-5.12 This canyon has two separate walls, the taller wall faces west and holds several traditional and mixed routes. The shorter wall on the east holds more routes but all of them are not documented. These routes usually stay dry.

  • Medicine Man- 5.10 Choose from two starts, climb the jugs or climb the chimney. It is your choice, make the right one for you. (Traditional)
  • Five Fun- 5.11 A fast and dry sport route.  Great for climbers switching from Traditional to try sport.
  • Moral Dilemma- 5.11 Another great sport route.
  • Scary Jerry- 5.12 Start out with a fun boulder problem and then stick it. (Sport)
  • Sling Blade- 5.10 A three part route consisting of some long climbs, easy belays and tricky corners that lets out with a spectacular view.  Go for it! (Traditional)

Blue Heron Campground
Blue Heron Campground is located in the Kentucky portion of Big South Fork, 9 miles west of Stearns off Highway 742. The campground offers a total of 45 sites all with water and electric hook-ups, picnic tables, fire-rings, access to restrooms and showers and a dump station.
Campground reservations for sites within Big South Fork can now be made through National Recreation Reservation Service by calling 1-877-444-6777 or online at the National Recreation Reservation Service web site.
Rates- Sites with hook-ups $17.00

Big South Fork Motor Lodge
136 Bruce Street, P.O. Box 506
Stearns, Kentucky  42647
Phone- 606-376-3156

Head south on Hwy 27 about 25 miles to Stearns. Turn right onto Hwy 92. Look for small ranger station signs immediately on right. This ranger station will provide information and directions to the routes.

Latitude: 36.4865
Longitude: -84.6985