The Unicoi Crest above Tellico Plains


Cherokee Hiking Club
198 Crews Drive, Benton, TN 373




John Muir Trail Dayhike
Saturday, February 23, 2008


Trail Head at TN68Brief Description:   This is a long hike along the John Muir Trail from the trail crossing on TN 68 to the Childers Creek trailhead. The trail is mostly fairly level, with a few climbs to cliffs overlooking the Hiwassee River. This is a beautiful trail following the course of the Hiwassee River all thethe entire way. The first part will be along the somewhat dry riverbed from TN68 until you reach the powerhouse. This first section is neat because it passes over some nice creeks, such as Loss Creek and Coker Creek and winds its way above the Narrows, a very steep and narrow section of the river. From the Appalachia Powerhouse on down to the Childers Creek trailhead down near Reliance, the river may be nearly dry or a raging torrent, depending on whether they are generating electricity. This stretch of this wide shoaly river is popular with fly fishermen and canoe/kayakers.  This route was traveled by John Muir as he came through Tennessee.



Bridge over Coker CreekLength 15.8 miles

Difficulty Rating: Moderate, but long

Elevation Gain: a few hundred feet

        Hike Leader Bill Ristom, 423-476-2945

        Trail Map       

Directions to the TrailheadThis is a fairly long shuttle on dirt forest service roads (Towee CreeHiwassee River Gorge from the trailk Road #22). We will meet at the Childers Creek Trailhead at 8AM and carpool to the TN68 trailhead. We should get off the trail before dark, but you might bring a headlamp just in case we don't.

Trail Description: We will start from the TN68 Trailhead close and hike downstream to the Childers Creek Trailhead. We will go by the Benton MacKaye/Unicoi Mountain Trail intersection and the Coker Creek Falls Trail intersection, then continue on downriver past the powerhouse and the section of the river popular with fly fishermen, canoeists, and kayakers. We will probably eat lunch at the Coker Creek area.

Post Trip Report: The weatherman earned a C- on this Saturday as the "partly" in front of the "cloudy" in the forecast proved unnecessary. But even with no sun and temps 10 below the prediction, morale was high. Attendance too. Eleven hikers (twelve if you count the one with the leash) car shuttled from Childers Creek to Tellico Plains to the Hwy 68 trailhead. Three cars were left at each end.

Jake on the Rock Ledge overlooking the Narrows    The first five miles, up to the intersection with the Unicoi Mt. Trail, were in pretty bad shape, even for winter. (Hint: Volunteers needed for work trip!) This slowed the pace and some thought we wouldn't make the fifteen miles before dark, but things picked up once open trail was reached.

    After lunch near the mouth of Coker Creek, the reinvigorated hikers burned up the trail to the swinging bridge (which has just been refurbished and looks really sharp), some taking the side trail to the flats on the way.

    With concern about daylight mounting, all agreed it was best to walk the road to Big Bend rather than stay on trail. (It turned out there would have been plenty of time.) To their credit, all hikers turned down free rides to the trailhead offered by the local fishermen, who drove away with puzzled looks on their faces as if to say, "Who ARE these strange people who prefer to walk?"

Swinging Bridge at Appalachia Powerhouse    At the end of the trail, most drove directly to the Tellicafe (in Tellico Plains) while one vehicle took drivers on the back road to retrieve the cars from Hwy 68. Ten ended up at the restaurant, with many opting for the local trout, the serving of which filled up the dinner plate. We need more hikes in that area so there can be more Tellicafe dinners afterwards.

    Special thanks to Charles Hall of Tellico Plains. As cars were arriving to meet behind the Charles Hall Museum (next to the visitors center), he noticed and opened the doors to invite us in. What a warm, friendly and knowledgeable man. Hikers may want to stop by some time and visit.

    Doing this long hike were (representing three Mae and Donna lunching along the bank of Coker Creekstates and six counties) Donna Brandon, Rick and Brenda Harris, Jeremi Manor, Mae Miles, Randy Morris, Bill and Diana Ristom, Jim Runyan, and Charlie and Deb Tucker. Next time: Headlamps in pocket, we take the trail.

~submitted by Bill Ristom

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