This place should be rated as hard ! A hiker could really use a (current) map and gps with satellite imagery the blazes are almost non existent. If you decide to take a trail that is not on the official map , it will get sketchy ... As none of the trails are maintained ..
Just hiked this over the weekend. The trail is pretty clear on the first leg. But gets lost once you get to the creek bottom. It's tough to find the trail connection going back north as its really covered
Up. Watch out for snakes in the creek area. Seen a
Copperhead before turning back north. Overall not a bad trail just tough finding the right way on the back half.
Started at the tower and went down the 'Tower Trail' till it came to Piney Creek. Flooding took out most of the trail, so just follow the creek like Dale said. Not many good views on the way down but there are a few nice fire rings on the trails by the creek. The lake was beautiful. Very secluded. Took the 'Farm Track Trail' that follows the dry creek bed back up, definitely the easiest way to get to the lake. Led out to a tiny track with road block posts at the road, but you can get there from the smaller trailhead down the road from the tower. Look for the pond if you take this route.
Pretty trail. Not super well marked. In the lower areas I think the flooding early this year did a number on the trail. Many times it was not at all obvious where the trail was, just keep following the creek. The AllTrails app made it much easier to bushwhack across the area and reconnect. Camped at the tower, only one here. (4-10-2016)
Wife's first, in her words "non-sissy" hike. All in all, this was a pretty good area for our day hike. Began at Fire Tower TH and went South East to the Lake Trail. Lake Trail to Piney Creek Trail. Followed the creek in and out several crossings that were very refreshing! Went south on Tar Kiln Trail back to the southern TH. Here's where it gets a little shady. Siloam Spring Trail was covered in quite a bit of foliage. Topo Map is recommended. We found ourselves along the top of the ridge with no sign of the trail. Headed north west knowing we'd hit the creek and eventually catch the trail back to the north. Within 100yds, we were back on and headed down to another creek. There was quite a bit of rain in the weeks preceding our hike and as a result, the creek crossing were a bit rough to find as well. A series of horses had been through in recent days making it fairly easy to follow.
Siloam Spring Trail meets up with Piney Creek Trail again. There is a marker, but you'll have to look closely for it. Continued North from Piney Creek Trail up Tower Trail. First fire ring (ozarkswalkabout map) was easy to spot and we decided to go up the ridge rather than drop down in the hollow. We completely missed the second one and when arriving where the hollow trail and tower trail met again didn't think twice about where we were on the map. To further compound the problem, there is a cairn that needs to be destroyed. Continued to head north (don't do it) up a fairly worn area and it dead ended another 3/4m down the trail. At that point, we were within a couple hundred yards of 76 and decided to walk the road back to the car.
Actual loop is closer to 8 miles. We turned it into 10 but it was a great day for a hike. Plenty of water and trail camping is allowed. Pretty quiet. We met a group of backpackers around the lake trail/piney creek trail crossing and a small group of boy scouts shortly thereafter. Beyond that, we had the place to ourselves.
To expand on someone else's review, when we got back to the car at the Fire Tower, we did ask some campers to take our picture. While the guy that took the picture was fine, there were some interesting characters amongst them. They were also a bit unnerving and we left pretty quickly. I would suggest, as the previous reviewer did, hiking down the trail and pitching your tent there.
Jamey S. on Piney Creek Trail
This is a tough hike, it is very steep. It was a good hike quite a work out. Since it is a very heavily used horse trail the trail is very well defined and easy to see. The problem is that none of the guys on horse back stay on the trail so there are hundreds of trails that shoot off in every direction. The multiple trails and multiple forks, splits, intersections, crossroads and the like made it very difficult to stay on the right trial, especially toward the start of the trail. I ended up taking the wrong trail and ended up lost for two hours. Luckily I am a good navigator, after two hours of playing rock paper scissors with myself trying to find the right trail i just went off trail through the woods and found my way out. There has to be at least ten different trails that cross this trail and it is very confusing seeing how not a single one of them is marked.
Nice hike. Not a lot of great views as the hike is through the woods all the way. We took the right hand trail down and the left hand trail coming back up. There are no markers on the trail, but we didn't have any trouble following the trail because of the hoof prints of the horses. There are a couple of really good climbs. Coming back up was a challenge, had to stop several times to catch our breaths, but we made it.