CHARIT CREEK LODGE
A true wilderness retreat takes pride in what it doesn't have. At Charit Creek Lodge, there's no electricity (kerosene lanterns are everywhere), no phones (the only thing ringing at mealtime is the dinner bell), and most notably, no traffic (access is by foot, bike, or horseback).
Room & Board: This cluster of two log cabins and a rustic main lodge is set in a gorge at the convergence of two creeks and is surrounded by the 125,000-acre Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Each of the buildings began as part of a 19th- or early 20th-century homestead. In the main lodge, built around an 1819 hunting cabin, two dorm-style rooms sleep up to 12 each in double-size bunks. The cabins, which also sleep 12 each, have screened porches with rockers and share a separate bath house. Classic country mealsbaked beef with gravy, chicken and dumplings, biscuits and grits for breakfastare served family style.
Out the Back Door: Charit Creek Hiking Trail, the most direct of four hiking paths to the lodge, is a 0.8-mile descent that takes you from a Fork Ridge Road parking lot to the base of a bluff, past a waterfall (in wet weather), and across a wooden bridge. Once you're at the lodge, the day-hike opportunities include 130 miles of trails lined with mountain laurel and wildflowers. Hike four miles to access 80 miles of the Big South Fork River for fly-fishing. (Bring your own gear; the catch is bass and trout.) Or tackle the river's Class III-IV whitewater on a full-day raft trip through the 11-mile Gorge section with Sheltowee Trace Outfitters.