Honey Creek Loop

  • Highlights: Rock formations, streams, waterfalls, rock scrambles
  • Distance: 6.1 mile loop 
  • Elevation Change 997 feet
  • Trail Surface: Dirt with several rocky sections
  • Difficulty Level: Strenuous
  • Trailhead Parking: Honey Creek Loop Road, Big South Fork National Recreation Area, Oneida TN
  • Trail Markings: Green blazes (orange arrows on rocks) and trail signs at junctions
  • Website: AllTrails and National Park Service
  • Beer Pairings: Clinch River Brewing—Hi Point Hazy & Flambeaux IPA

Trail Map:

The Hike:

This technical hike has a little bit over everything, waterfalls, stream crossings, rock scrambles, wildflowers, views, and caves. It has been described on AllTrails as “the hikes hike” and we agree. Navigating this hike can be challenging. The trail is well marked; however, it winds over, under, and around rocks and streams. Download the map from AllTrails and plan on 5-6 hours (or more) to complete this hike.

From the trailhead, just about everyone recommends hiking counterclockwise. The AllTrails map goes clockwise and they list the distance as 4.5 miles. After the hike, we compared notes with several other hikers and we all recorded more than 6 miles. We went CCW and it is definitely the way to go. Take your time as you navigate through the gorge. Amazing rock formations appear one after another along with numerous stream crossings. We hiked in late-April and the water levels were low so all the crossings were easy rock hops. After heavy rains, pack extra socks as you will get wet.

As you pass through some of the rock formations, look for orange arrows to help you navigate. We were turned around several times and had to back track to find the trail. The only real views are from the Honey Creek Overlook. A short spur trail leads to a series of metal stairs which result in nice views of the South Fork of the Cumberland River. Take your time and enjoy the climb!

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

Honey Creek is in a remote section of northeast TN in the Big South Fork National Recreation Area. Packing a cooler with a few cans of post-hike craft beer is a good option. The nearest brewery is over an hour away in Norris TN. Clinch River Brewing is located near the Norris Dam on the Clinch River. They have 12 taps of craft beer, a variety of food options, and a nice beer garden. The brewery is pet and kid friendly.

Pete enjoyed a pint of Flambeaux (6.3% ABV • 46 IBU), a well-balanced American IPA brewed with Ekuanot, Citra, and Motueka hops. Kathy likes hazy IPAs and Hi Point (5.3ABV) is a east-coast hazy brewed with Citra, Amarillo, Sabro, and Styrian Wolf hops.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.