Piney River Trail #Wildflowers List 04/08/2016

I’d seen (on Facebook) and heard (passerby on Chestnut Top Trail in the Smokies a week or so ago) about Piney River Trail near Spring City. Due to some cancelled plans, Friday, 04/08/2016 became available, so even though the weather was sketchy, I decided to drive the 65 miles to the trail to check it out for myself. It exceeded expectations both for wildflowers, and for simply being a fun, beautiful trail.

Large-flowered Trillium, Foamflower, Star Chickweed, Hepatica leaves

Large-flowered Trillium, Foamflower, Star Chickweed, Hepatica leaves

Piney River Trail is now a part of the Cumberland Trail, which is now officially The Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park. When completed, this state park will be 300 miles long, stringing together new trail sections with pre-existing trails such as the Piney River Trail. The trailhead is across Shut In Gap Road from a  picnic area, and there is also a gravel parking area on the same side of the road as the trailhead. Shut In Gap Road is accessed off of state route 68 out of Spring City, TN.

I only walked a short portion of this trail; the 1.9 miles from the trailhead to McDonald Branch, and the return, for 3.8 miles. There are a couple of loop side-trails near the trailhead for opportunities for a relatively short loop hike. The Piney River Trail is a moderate hike. It has some uphill/downhill sections, but none really steep. It is rugged in areas, however, being quite rocky. It follows the Piney River, usually well above the river, and there are a number of cliffs that the trail walks above and below, and along. I repeat – a really nice, fun trail.

Yellow Trillium - Trillium luteum

Yellow Trillium – Trillium luteum – At the beginning of the trail

I was there for the wildflowers, and was not disappointed, starting with Yellow Trillium (Trillium luteum) at the beginning of the trail, and a mix of Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) and Southern Red Trillium (Trillium sulcatum) surrounding the beautiful crossing of McDonald Branch where I turned around. And there were nearly 40 more species of wildflowers blooming in between. Here, more or less in alphabetic order by common name, is what I identified on this walk:

Southern Red Trillium - Trillium sulcatum

Southern Red Trillium – Trillium sulcatum – This may be the smallest Trillium sulcatum I’ve seen. There were many near the end of my hike as I approached McDonald Branch.

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