White Oak Spring Trail

(connector from Clear Creek Trail to Red Hill Trail)

 By Joe Feeman

This new trail, which was completed in 2010, connects Lower Clear Creek Trail to Red Hill Trail. The trail keeps the hiker on the west side of Upper Clear Creek Road and is basically an extension of Clear Creek Trail. It is a red trail, open only to hikers only, and is 0.4 miles in length. The trail starts in the opening at the junction of Clear Creek Trail and Upper Clear Creek Road. In wet weather there is a drainage that may be full of water at the beginning of the trail, but you can get across downstream a bit. You will hike through the field, parallel to the road, for about 0.1 miles before entering the woods. The trail continues along a small stream, which is fed by a spring on up the road; this spring was a small picnic area at one time. There was a very large white oak next to the spring which provided a nice shady spot for picnicking. A short road off of Upper Clear Creek provided access. The tree fell over 10 years ago and the road has been closed for many years, so access is now limited to bushwhacking through the woods.

 As you hike along this stretch see if you can find the old stone structure on the left. This is probably an old root cellar because it is near the site of a house which was occupied by J.S. Reynolds when TVA purchased the area. The house was located on the flat area at the foot of the slope.  This stretch along the stream is dominated by sycamore trees with scattered walnut, boxelder, and blue beech. Up the slope, along the entire length of this trail is an old field that was planted to shortleaf pine by the CCCs in the mid 30s. There are still scattered pines, but most were killed by the southern pine beetle over the years. After a short distance along the creek, the trail leaves the bottom and climbs left up the slope. This section is an old road that separated the field from the house of C.J Nine, which is located on up the hill. Over the years the road has washed badly so the trail follows along the outer edge. As you climb this slope, old-field gullies are still evident on the left; these are typical of many hillside farms from the period. Redcedar, sugar maple, and yellow poplar line the right side of the trail, which drops off steeply. If you look closely, down the slope, you will see the fallen white oak at the spring, mentioned earlier. Several hundred feet up the trail, on the right side, is the old foundation of the Nine house. There are a number of yard plants including bush honeysuckle, periwinkle, and privet. Also present is a large patch of kudzu; this has been treated in the past and will be a priority in the future. If you want to explore the old home site, use extreme caution, because copperheads have been seen in the ruins. Actually, in the watershed, I have only seen or heard of copperheads along Clear Creek, from the grist mill up to this area. The trail veers right, away from the old road, for a short stretch before returning, just before the trail reaches its end at Red Hill Trail. 

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