Powell River Blueway Trail Project
The Powell River Blueway Trail project is an endeavor by the Powell River Blueway Trail Committee of the Claiborne County Tourism Commission to improve public access onto the Powell River for fishing and paddling. The Powell River winds through rural NE Tennessee for 114 miles and is one of the two major rivers feeding Norris Reservoir. (The other tributary being the Clinch River.)
Since 2016, the Powell River Blueway Trail project has received a $50,000 grant from the Tennessee Dept of Economiic and Community Development, a $15,000 grant from the Tennessee Healthy Watersheds Initiative and the Clinch-Powell Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc.. and in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy to create online mapping, install directional and information signage, create a web presence, and to promote the Powell River Regatta, a $5,000 award from TVA and generous sponsorships from the Claiborne County Tourism Commission and Claiborne County businesses.
Because of terrain constraints along the Powell River, there are limited opportunities for public access on/of the river. Ideally access points would be located at least every five river miles and no more than 10 river miles apart. Five years ago, there were few public access points available, even fewer with adequate parking, and none with directional and information signage. During the last five years nearly all possible access points have been obtained and constructed or improved and are now available for public use.
The committee has worked cooperatively with state and local agencies including TVA, Tennessee Wildlife Resources (TWRA), Tennessee Dept of Forestry, the Tennessee Dept of Transportation, The Clinch-Powell RC&D Council, Inc, The Tennessee Healthy Watersheds Initiative, and The Nature Conservancy to create and improve public access points, as follows:
Mulberry Creek at River Mile 104L is a public site owned by TVA and developed by Tennessee Wildlife Resources (TWRA). The site is right under the Alanthus Hill bridge. It has a good parking lot and a gravel drive down to near the river. However, about six years ago, a major flood event undercut the end of the concrete launch ramp leaving a ragged 4 foot drop-off to the river. The Powell River Tourism Committee contacted Hancock County, TVA and TWRA and obtained permission to remove the broken concrete and grade a gravel ramp to the river. TVA has a permanent concrete ramp scheduled for future construction.
Gap Creek at River Mile 54R is a public site owned by TVA. The Powell River Tourism Committee initiated an investigation into TVA's rights of public access and found that the public is entitled to use the access where Gap Creek flows into the Powell River just downstream of the railroad trestle. The Committee purchased crushed rock for improvement to the dirt road accessing the site. The Claiborne County Road Department regraded the drive and rocked the road. Directional signage has been installed.
Highway 25E Bridge
The Highway 25E Bridge at River Mile 65R is a public site owned by Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). The existing access road from Powell River Road to the river had been barricaded. The Powell River Blueway Trail Committee initiated a permit process with TDOT and TWRA to reopen the access drive to the river. A permit was granted, the access road was completely re-graded and the parking area enlarged. A maintenance agreement with TWRA is in place and an informational kiosk has been erected
Williams Landing at Lock Lane
Williams Landing at Lock Lane at River Mile 84L is an old public ford across the Powell River. The steep steady grade to the river has been widened and rocked. A.parking area across the road has been obtained and gravelled. Lock Lane was also widened at the top of the ramp to allow boats to be offloaded. An informational kiosk was erected at the parking area.
Fugate Ford at River Mile 112 is an old public ford across the Powell River. The Clinch-Powell RC&D purchased an access easement on behalf of the public to allow access to this furthest upstream site in Tennessee. Signage is planned for installation.
Brooks Bridge at River Mile 95 is located on State Highway 63 (Hopewell Road) crosses the river. The site is owned by TVA and is therefore accessible to the public. TWRA is currently in a permit process with TWRA and has negotiated a maintenance agreement with the Claiborne County Chamber to maintain the site. The gate and LMU building have been removed and the parking lot improved. Signage is planned once the TWRA permit process is complete.