Reservoir Hill Trail

 By Joe Feeman

Reservoir Hill Trail starts at the pump house and climbs about 430 feet to the top of Reservoir Hill. The 0.9 mile trail is open to all but vehicular traffic (purple trail) and is primarily a single track trail. The trail starts just below the intersection of Lower Clear Creek Road and the access road to the pump house (Hi Point Road). It enters the woods off the road and crosses a drainage ditch before climbing a short rocky slope. The trail is on an old road at this point and follows it for 0.3 miles before it (the old road) turns left up the hollow. This is the original road to the pump house area which was relocated to the present location by Doc Williams around 1900 to get an easier grade (the original road went straight where Lower Clear Creek Road now makes a sharp left turn at the top of the hill, and ran down the right side of the hollow to the location of this segment of Reservoir Hill Trail).  After a short climb, the trail flattens somewhat and becomes more gravelly. The forest in this area is older upland hardwood with white oak, black oak, and hickories and scattered large white pine. Notice the number of dead trees, an indication that the forest has reached or surpassed maturity.

You will leave the old road in a right hand bend and begin to climb on a single track toward Lower Clear Creek Road. Be sure to check traffic as you cross the road. The trail now climbs a little steeper on a very gravelly surface that has eroded in places. For the next 0.2 or so miles there is an abundance of black cohosh, maiden hair fern, yellow mandarin, and various other ferns. As you climb, the trail first turns left and then right. At the right turn, there is a trail that leads off to the left and loops around and back to the main trail in 0.1 miles. The main trail continues and meets the other trail very quickly. There are actually three trails meeting at this point, with the third being a short access from Reservoir Hill Road. This gives a good entry point to the watershed off of the concrete sidewalk that follows Reservoir Road from downtown. Continuing on the trail, you will pass a sinkhole on the left just before reaching Reservoir Hill Circle Trail. The forest here is older hardwoods (chestnut oak, white oak, and black oak) on the left and younger hardwoods (yellow poplar, red maple, and hickories) on what was once an old field, on the right.

The trail makes a steady climb to the top from this point. An abundance of sea oats lines the trail which bends to the left and soon meets another trail coming in from the left. This is an access from the Carson Brewer Trail, which is a ¼ mile paved loop that is handicap accessible. Parking for Carson Brewer Trail is located near the top of Reservoir Hill on the right. Carson Brewer was a long-time Norris resident who was a columnist and outdoor writer for the Knoxville News Sentinel for 40 years. He and his wife Alberta wrote many books about life, and the history of East Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains. Carson was an avid hiker and trout fisherman and spent many hours in the Smokies pursuing those interests. The Brewers lived on Dale Road, across the street from where I grew up, and their only child Kit was a classmate and play pal of mine. Unfortunately, Carson and Alberta both passed away during the last 10 years. You will notice the shelter just up this access trail, which makes a good spot to picnic or rest. This shelter is a remnant of many structures which once stood in this area. Originally, there was a group camp, often used by the girl scouts, and a picnic area for the public.

 The trail passes under a small power line, and then reaches Observation Point Trail, just below the overlook at Reservoir Hill. Reservoir Hill Trail can be incorporated with other trails to make some nice loops. It has good parking access from the pump house, Carson Brewer Trail, and Reservoir Hill. Be sure to make the short trip to the over look at the top of Reservoir Hill. There is a stone stairway that goes up from Observation Point Trail.     

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