Powell River Blueway Trail Project
The Powell River Blueway Trail project is an endeavor by the Powell River Tourism 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.) However, along this 114 miles, there are very few places where the public can access the river, and even fewer that are formalized with good parking and access signage.
The Blueway Trail project has received a $50,000 grant from the Tennessee Dept of Economiic and Community Development and 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 in 2018.
One new access site was created in 2017: the Indian Creek site at River Mile 68R just upstream from Highway 25E bridge.
The committee is currently working with other 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 four other 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 and there is now a ragged 4 foot drop-off to the river. The Powell River Tourism Committee contacted Hancock County, TVA and TWRA two years ago to set in motion a rebuild of the ramp. Construction is expected in 2018 or 2019.
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. Signage is planned.
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 is barricaded. The Committee initiated a meeting with TDOT and TWRA to evaluate the improvements needed to allow TDOT to authorize reopening of the access drive. The on-site meeting was held in November of 2017. TWRA agreed to submit an "Excess Lands" permit application to TDOT, which has been done. A decision by TDOT as to the physical improvements to the driveway is expected Spring 2018. Because of its location, this is a critical site for the Powell River Blueway Trail.
Lock Lane at River Mile 84 is an old public ford across the Powell River. The access is a steep steady grade to the river. Parking is currently non-existent, but two parking spaces are planned for 2018 created by widening Lock Lane with a small rock fill.