The Hemlock Bluff Trail is a scenic trail that climbs a bluff with beautiful views of the Clinch River. The primitive singletrack trail shares its name with the Hemlock Bluff "Small Wild Area" (SWA) it passes through, which has been protected and set aside for low-impact public use by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The Hemlock Bluff SWA and Trail are named for the area's dense hemlock groves. White oak, beech, pine, and pawpaw trees also grow in this protected area. The pawpaw trees produce creamy fruits that have been nicknamed "hillbilly mango" and which attract a range of wildlife. You might see black bears, gray foxes, and raccoons having a feast here in September.
The Hemlock Bluff trailhead is located near the end of Club House Drive. This area is sometimes gated off and not accessible by car, so hikers are usually advised to get to it by adding the 1.5-mile Point 19 Trail to their hike for a total of 8 miles round trip. Do note that while the Hemlock Bluff Trail is for foot traffic only, the Point 19 Trail is popular with mountain bikers. Be prepared to share the trail with fast-moving cyclists. Many enjoy coming here after a rain, as this trail dries out faster than other mountain biking trails near Knoxville.
To start your hike with the Point 19 Trail, park in the Loyston Point Mountain Bike Trailhead parking lot off of Lakeshore Drive near the intersection of that road and Club House Drive. There is copious parking in this well-maintained lot, as well as bathrooms. Another trail that begins at this trailhead is the 5.4-mile Loyston Loop Trail. It also offers river views and at one point, intersects with the Hemlock Bluff Trail, allowing you to create a loop with the Point 19, Hemlock Bluff, and Loyston Loop trails. Consult the map at the trailhead to plan your route.
Whatever path you take, you'll return refreshed by the sights and sounds of the river.