Piney River and Twin Rocks Nature Trails is a 13.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Spring City, Tennessee that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Experience small waterfalls and cascades while viewing over 40 wildflowers 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.
My wife and I hiked the 2.5 mile Twin Rocks loop which is not well documented on this site. It starts at the Piney River Picnic area. We took the trail marked as the Twin Rocks Nature Trail and hiked to the Twin Rocks Outlook (1380', so its a 530 foot climb from the trailhead.) On the return hike we turned left at a trail junction and followed gentle switchbacks down to an intersection with the Piney River Trail which we then hiked back to the trailhead at the Picnic Area. A very pleasant short hike. (Easy/Moderate - 2.5 miles)
Warning: the Twin Rocks Outlook is accessed by a "caged ladder" and, as of Nov 2016, the lowest two rungs on the ladder were missing. Some athleticism is required to mount the ladder.
I give The Twin Rocks loop 3 stars - the Outlook is a very interesting rock feature but the views are a bit limited.
Great hike! Great camping and fishing too.
Correction to my last post the Mary Wether Pass is actually called McDonalds Branch, not sure where I got Mary Wethers Pass from, oh well
So I'd like to add a lot of information about this trail that may be pieced together from other reviews and The Cumberland Trail Website. My husband and I did this trail 2 days ago. With that said: we loved it, however, keep in mind we were extremely out of shape at the time, so this review may not be as accurate for those that maintain better fitness year round. The trail was moderate, with packs I say hard. We had meant to make the whole journey, however limited time and a surprise empty fuel canister for our jet boil and our not completely up to snuff physical conditions had other plans. With that said we only made it 3 miles into the trail :(. Within that 3 miles the trail is mostly narrow, lots of Poisin oak, DO NOT ATTEMPT this trail if you're allergic! It is unavoidable. I am highly allergic to the stuff; so if you're like me just load up on the rhus toxin before you hike, that's what I do and it makes me virtually immune to the stuff. We did see a trail runner along the way but that's it. If I were trail running this trail I would break my ankle and fall to my death but anyway this guy was an Olympic trail runner I think bc the trail was so narrow at points if you stepped the wrong way you would fall down a treacherous ravine. Not saying the trail isn't worth it, the payoff is amazing, just not sure how anyone trail runs it. The trek to Piney River is a constant elevation change, it is subtle, but this is not a flat trail from the Piney River Natural Area to the suspension bridge that crosses the river. It is doable with packs when dry, I could see when it's wet being much more difficult. The rocky places are often encountered after the Mary Wether Pass or something to that effect, anyway it's the part you come to where there are a few boulders. The rocky places are not very long but they do move and it can be a little tricky to navigate with packs. We originally drove the 2nd vehicle to the Duskin Creek Trail Head, which is where the Piney River Trail ends in my opinion. Your car will get a little jacked up on the way to drop your other vehicle off there but my suspension was already crap from these adventures so I wasn't as concerned. You can drop your 2nd vehicle off at the Newbe Section, however I wouldn't recommend it bc the trail continues a ways up the dirt road across Duskin Creek and the trail looked obscure and hard to find. After you park at Piney River trail head, the Shut In Gap Road is tar and chip/gravel for 5 miles that feels like longer, then you'll turn to the left for the sign to Duskin Creek or you can go strait to Newbe . This dirt road is rough for anything except maybe a monster truck. You can take a car like I did just go slow, the Duskin Creek trail head has no sign, you'll cross over 2 concrete bridgeways that look like they flood most of time during rain, after the last bridge Duskin Creek is on your left, it's a small area for parking. If we would have finished the trail and not had to turn back from Piney River trail head to Dusking Creek would have been ~8.5 miles. Instead bc we had to turn back after our overnighter at the Piney River suspension bridge, we only ended up doing 6 miles all together. We did not feel like boiling our water over the fire the 2nd day without our jet boil. Camping at the suspension bridge was the best site I've ever camped at. There is so much room and you hear the water all night, it is so peaceful and the air is so fresh from the water cascading over the rocks. The firepit is huge. The area is amazing. I want to go back and finish the trail next time. I am hoping that the section to Piney River was the roughest as far as elevation change goes bc it would have only been 2 more miles to the logging campsite, which is your half way point, we just ran out of time the first day. I hear the logging campsite is even better than the one at the suspension bridge. If anyone knows more about the trail from the suspension bridge to Duskin Creek trail head, please do tale, I hear it's the more interesting part of the trail. I have heard you can fish at the suspension bridge, we saw one sizable fish under the bridge, the rest were tiny. There were 2 places to swim: one was out from the bridge a bit, it got real deep, the other was down from the campsite we were at, you have to traverse over the rocks to get to it but it looked very clean, there must have been an old mill there bc we saw huge old metal rods coming up from the stone. Our water filter filters, I think up to .01 microbes, however the water from the surface coming off the rocks tasted somewhat chemically even with the filtration. I had never run into this issue before, however the CT website did warn against surface water contamination, not sure what it entailed but the next day we found a spot down from a rock that was its own small underground stream and it tasted perfect, so if you can get your water from an underground spring source rather than the sur
This is a really nice trail with a lot of nice perks.. You have the sounds of the river for almost the entire trail and it is very well marked. I never saw another person the entire hike so I think this is a overlooked trail by many.. The only negative was there was a lot of large downed trees that you have to go over or under and for some that could be a issue. Other than that its a great trail I would highly recommend it.
Great trail. Trailhead is on the left across the street from the picnic area. The Overlook trail forks to the left off of the Piney River main trail. Both are nice, the Overlook is a bit steeper but a more interesting hike with a nice payoff at the top. The main trail follows the Piney River and loops back on itself not far past McDonald's Branch.
Good short hike and easy my 3&5 year olds hiked this trail
We hiked this trail after several storms had passed thru the area. There were several huge trees across the trail which we had to crawl over. We seen several families enjoying the trail but the trail path didn't seem like it sees alot of traffic. Nice trail, we will hike again.
This beautiful trail is part of the Cumberland Trail system, it follows the Piney river through a magnificent old growth Hemlock forest ( see them before they go the way of the Chestnut), and offers nice river views from high ridge tops, this trail has it all; lots of waterfalls, swimming holes, huge boulders, nice bridges, wild flowers, wildlife, several backcountry campsites, would like to return to hike this trail in summer!
Great hike..lots of pretty river views. Very peaceful:) good, midsize length hike..not very heavily traveled..well marked.
I gave it a 5 because I enjoy the sound of rushing water. Very peaceful hike. The wildflowers were amazing (just started documenting). There was a huge rock slide on the trail but, we were able to maneuver over the top. Also, some small trees over the trail. Overall, beautiful day in the 80's and great people to hike with. Can't wait to go back. Oh, I did give a tick a ride back to my house. Ouch!