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John Muir National Recreation Trail: Hiwassee River Segment

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Cherokee National Forest

John Muir National Recreation Trail: Hiwassee River Segment is a 16.4 mile lightly trafficked point-to-point trail located near Reliance, Tennessee that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 16.4 miles Elevation Gain: 2,821 feet Route Type: Point to Point

dogs on leash

kid friendly




nature trips

paddle sports


bird watching




wild flowers


The trail along the river is nice and good for a trail run. Approx 5 miles in there are currently several trees down.

The most beautiful views of the water along the trail. Plenty of places to fill up, mostly flat with a few roots to scramble over. A couple disperse campsites in a great location.

2 months ago

A beautiful day hiking with our 2 fur kids along the Hiwassee River. Three trees across trail but easy to get around. A lot of spring flowers in bloom plus butterflies.

Great trail along the edge of the river. At this time of year there were beautiful wildflowers along the trail.

3 months ago

Did John Muir to Big Bend, 6 miles total. Easy trail, all flat along the River the whole time. There were a few portions where we had to walk through ankle deep water where the River overflowed onto the trail, cold but it was bearable! Glad we had chacos. Beautiful time of year, river rushing and everything blooming.

3 months ago

Easy to navigate and well groomed trail that has plenty to see with the river. On one side and rock bluffs on the other. Lots of spring flower along the way.

9 months ago

Just went from the trail head to Big Bend, 6 miles round trip. Beautiful trail but needs some attention, in my opinion. Several large trees downed and, at places, a little overgrown. Narrow path about 1.5 miles in and few places where it could be possible to stub your toe and fall into the water. I met two young hikers (30’s) that turned back due to the downed trees. I think most younger than me (69) and smaller than me (6’3” and 240) would be just fine. Saying that, I loved it, will do it again and do at least another 5-6 miles.

10 months ago

Hiked from Childers Creek to Apalachia Powerhouse. Was a total of 14 miles out & back. The trail was pretty well maintained and very flat. You follow the Hiwassee river the entire way. There were a few trees that have fell I had to cross over. There are some muddy spots, but they were not too bad. You do have to walk on Powerhouse road for 3/4 of a mile from Big Bend to past Beach Bottom branch so be careful and look out for vehicles!

Tue May 21 2019

Overall I enjoyed the 3 mile section I hiked today. There is a good sized tree down at mile 1 1/4 and a small tree down maybe half a mile later. I was able to get past both so didnt deter me. Quite a few muddy spots as well.

Wed Jan 09 2019

Very technical trail, but nevertheless, a fun and beatiful trail running opportunity!

Mon Dec 24 2018

We hiked this trail in early spring 2018. I had my 4 year old son (who can go all day today swear), wife and 8 year old son. When the powerhouse releases water it can come up on the trail and be a little dangerous . It’s a nice easy hike. If you go early, before they release water, fishing is really fun. The small pools hold all the fish, making them an easy target. We only hiked a couple miles in and back. I’m sure the 16 mile trek would be great.

Sun Nov 04 2018

Great and easy hike! Beautiful in the fall.

Sat Jun 02 2018

seemed like a great trail, but only got to go a quarter mile in due to hiwassee flooding the trail making it unsafe. Will definitely try again soon.

Sat Mar 10 2018

Awesome trail especially if you like venturing off trail.

Sun Feb 18 2018

we hiked from Childers Creek to beyond Big Bend area for a total of 7 miles. Very nice hike. Good trail. A little wet in a few spots but nothing we couldn't get around. We will do this trail again.

Mon Sep 04 2017

Beautiful trail and fairly easy though sometimes a bit unmanaged.

Mon Aug 28 2017

Great trail!

Wed May 31 2017

The trail is easy from Childers creek to big bend. moderate h to the power house. after that the trail is difficult with several steep sections and several poorly main maintained sections from Coker creek to highway 68.

Wed Apr 19 2017

Moderate skilled trail with pretty views and multiple places to camp. Can be done in 1 long day or two short days. Sometimes it is a little hard to follow the trail but all in all a great hike!

Sun Apr 09 2017

I loved the trail. it is a beautiful place, with River views, wildflowers, rock cliffs, I hiked 7 miles. loved it!!

Thu Mar 23 2017


Wed Mar 01 2017

Not well marked above Power House. Signs missing or vandalized. Beautiful hike. Would do it again.

Sat Oct 29 2016

I still remember this beautiful trail.

Sat Oct 29 2016

A beautiful place and a beautiful hike, like anything John Muir put his name on. I did this years ago and could not find it on Alltrails.

Mon Oct 03 2016

Amazing. Crystal clear water. Some nice ledges. Love it

Thu Sep 08 2016

Wait on the water! Best on a hot summer day. Very refreshing. I've been down the upper on raft, and the lower on tube and kayak.

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