Summary: The trail Piney River is part of the Bowater Pocket Wilderness located just west of Spring City. This 10 mile hike is best known for it's wild flowers. Our pace was rather slow which was ideal for wildflower viewing, naming and photographing as we counted 39 flowers(to many to name I stopped writing them down by name after 26) in bloom not including the dogwoods, red buds and buckeyes. The trail follows Piney River as well as in and out of several branches connecting to it. Our lunch spot was at Pine Branch which was enjoyed in the sun next to a small cascade. The trail was in pretty good shape except for some slime covered rocks scattered throughout. The one adventurous part was crossing McDonalds Branch which was tricky due to some rock climbing as others chose rock cropping as a means to make it safely to the other side. Near the end, the trail has a connector to Twin Rocks Overlook, were a geological which you can climb stairs to achieve the view.
Trailhead: Directions via I-75: Exit 60 Sweetwater. Take Highway 68 north out of Spring City. One mile from Spring City turn left on Sut-in Gap Road. For car shuttle, park one car at the East Piney River Picnic Area, then to the top of the road and follow signs to Newby Branch Forest Camp. park second car here. We chose to park further down the trail which took off about a mile and a half. If you pass the road to Newby Branch Forest Camp you can drive to the bottom of the hill as the trail crosses the road park here. (Lat:35.71981 Lon:-84.08616)
Trail Guides for Piney River and Twin Rocks Nature Trails:
40 Hikes in the South Cumberland
by Russ Manning ()
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: Bowater Pocket Wilderness
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Bobby Trotter, who has posted 74 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by Rick on 4/20/2014
Other reviewers have covered the actual hike quite well, this review will described the gravel roads that lead to Newby Branch and to Duskin Creek Parking off Shut-In Gap Road. These are poorly maintained and erosion has made them both very rough, especially for passenger cars. If you have a high ground clearance vehicle with four wheel drive, you'll be OK, but I would not recommend driving these roads with anything else. According to a local, there is a jurisdictional dispute between various agencies as to whom should maintain the roads. As a result, the gravel roads have not been graded for three years and are in terrible shape.
Reviewed by Chip on 7/22/2012
This is a moderate hike with good woods, well marked and maintained trail with water near by. I saw fair amount of wildlife (Deer four times on the 5 hour hike) and there are many rock shelves that are near or over hang the trail, but it isn't until you reach the bridge crossover and campsites that the view and features become more interesting. after you cross the river, there is a falls marked short spur trail there that I would recommend. looked like it would be very nice with water (it was dry when I hiked it in early July as was the Piney river). When you connect with the rock house trail, I would definitely take it to the right as it is unique formation of rock walls and the base of the creek that feeds the Piney there...excellent hik
Reviewed by Natalie on 2/20/2011
Harry and I hiked some of this area on February 20, 2011. The trail and the Piney River are lovely. There are beautiful pools in the river. We want to see if this river can be kayaked when the water is higher. We will definitely come back (much earlier in the day) to hike more of the trails, probably when the wildflowers are in bloom. A correction: the turn-off is "Shut-in Gap Road," not Sut-in Gap Road. Our mistake: I thought because this site asked for my zip code that the notation "xx miles away" meant that far from my home. Not so. It means that the trailhead is xx miles away from whatever city/town is listed in the "NEAR" category. We went 60 miles, not 16 miles, to get to the trailhead.
Reviewed by Joyce on 2/14/2011
This a beautiful hike and well worth your time! The small waterfalls and cascades are beautiful. We went in Feb 2011 and there was still a bit of snow on the ground. If you go in the winter, don't skip spider bluff. We saw it covered in long icicles - beautiful! Am wondering if it's covered in spiders in the summer?! Moderate does seem to be a pretty accurate rating.
Reviewed by JMD on 8/9/2010
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Reviewed by Chuck on 3/18/2007
A fun little trail. The falls were about 80 - 100 feet. At a more treacherous part of the trail there are ropes to guide you down. Here are some of my photos. While you're there don't forget to climb the nearby fire-tower, but do be careful, some of the wood looked like it was rotting. The tower overlooks Spring City and the gorge that the falls are in, to the east you can see the cooling towers for the nearby nuclear reactor.
Reviewed by Valerie on 12/24/2006
Absolutely beautiful! I lived in Spring City for many years as a young girl and the Piney River was my playground. I didn't realize how lucky I really was until we moved away. I have missed it terribly and even to this day dream about playing in the river, crawling over the rocks and listening to the peace water trickle. We would go there in the morning and stay till almost dark! Catching fireflies was great fun after the water turned dark. This area is great for family as well as honeymooning!
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