This half mile hike has a moderate grade but offers a far ranging view from Topton down toward the town of Andrews. From the campground, cross Powder Burnt Branch on a foot bridge and come to a jeep road. Turn right up the gravel road and follow as it switchbacks to the left. Make a slight descent to a saddle before topping out on a cleared point. Here you can look south down the watershed of the Valley River. On the right hand side of the valley are the Snowbird Mountains. On the left hand side are the Valley River Mountains.
This short walk departs from the top of the campground walk up the main gravel road and follow Powder Burnt Road upstream from the metal bridge. Here, you’ll follow old woods road on the right hand side of the creek. Follow the old road approximately 100 yards to the falls.
Bartram Trail Your getaway to the National Forest is the Hideaway Connector Trail. This 1.2 mile pathway starts at the upper end of the campground. Follow the gravel road to the left after it splits just a few yards above the campground. Cross the metal bridge over Powder Burnt Branch and continue up the road a short distance to the metal tower. From here you can see the grassy top of Cheoah Bald to the North. As you face the base of the tower, look for the path entering the woods on the left. This is an old road cut by settlers back before there were electric towers and lines. It leads around a dry ridge into a hollow of Laurel Creek. Keep climbing to the head of the hollow and rock hop Laurel Creek at ½ mile. The path seconds along the creek, crossing it twice more before entering a rhododendron and the national forest. Laurel Creek is off to the left. Within 50 yards the path splits again. Take the high road to the left again. After a steep climb, the trail comes to a gap at 1 mile. This hardwood forest stands at 3,520 feet. The Hideaway Connector Trail hugs the ridge to its right as the hill to the left falls steeply away. The trail descends to the Sutherland Gap at mile 1.2. Straight ahead is the Nantahala Trail. It leads to the Bartram Trail. To your right is the London Bald Trail. It heads southeasterly along the ridge that divides Cherokee and Macon Counties. Continue downhill on the Nantahala Trail for ½ mile. The yellow blazed Bartram Trail will come in on your left. Turn left on Bartram Trail. The narrow footpath swings around Rattlesnake Knob, passing a small spring a half mile. Two miles beyond Sutherland Gap, you’ll come to the boundary with the power company property. Enjoy “Gorge-ous” views of the Nantahala Gorge. Wind down a series of ten switchbacks, connect to a service road for the nearby Nantahala Dam and end your hike at the Nantahala River boat launch site 5.5 miles from the campground
To access Piercy Creek and other trails in Appletree follow the Hideaway Connector Trail to Sutherland Gap. The Connector Trail is described in the beginning of the Bartram Trail Hike. From Sutherland Gap continue downhill on the old road passing the Bartram Trail which splits off to the left ½ mile beyond Sutherland Gap. The Nantahala and Bartram Trail share the treadway down to Piercy Creek and beyond to Appletree. The old woods road leads down a south facing ridge, switchbacking twice to reach the valley of Piercy Creek, 1½ miles from Sutherland Gap, A beautiful grove of white pines cover this flat area that makes an ideal picnic spot.
Members of the Nelson family recall coming down to Piercy Creek on a horse drawn wooden sled and picking blackberries in the old fields. Settlers found sleds with wood runners worked better than wheeled wagons over the rough and rocky mountain roads.
The first of two trail junctions is encountered in the valley. The first junction in on the upper end of the pine grove. Look for the wooden sign on your right marked “Laurel Creek Trail.” This path leads up 1½ miles to the Appletree Group Campground or a loop with the Bertram Trail.
Continue on the Nantahala/Bertram Trail and soon come to another junction. On your left is the Piercy Creek Trail. It follows Piercy Creek downstream 1 mile to the Nantahala River. This is a good fishing trail for anglers who want to access the lower reaches of Piercy Creek.
Follow the connector Trail to Nantahala/Bertram Trail down to Piercy Creek. Look for the Laurel Creek Trail sign on your right before you reach Piercy Creek. Turn on Laurel Creek Trail and rock hop Piercy Creek. Turn on Laurel Creek Trail and rock hop Piercy creek within 100 yards. The trail follows the left bank of the Laurel Creek through rhododendron with Intermittent orange blazes as your trail indicator. The trail crosses a grown over logging road running perpendicular to Laurel Creek Trail. Continue up the creek valley, coming to a wet section in rhododendron. Look for the rotting remnants of a low bridge spanning the seep.
The hollow steepens as your pass an attractive grove of trees. On your left notice the grassy understory. This was cleared over in settler days. Keep climbing more steeply, and come to a news grassed over logging road. Cross the road and follow a more faint trail straight up the hollow. Top out on an old woods road. Veer right for just a few yards and look for the orange tape on the trees to your left. The Laurel Creek Trail ascends the spine of the ridge to top out on a knob covered in mountain laurel. Descend and in a short distance come to a saddle and veer left just a few feet to intersect the Appletree Trail 1½ miles from Piercy Creek.
Turn left on the Appletree Trail. It moderately descends 1.1 miles along the Appletree Creek down to the group camp, passing several feeder streams on the way. The trail ends at a gravel road near an open field. Walk down the road to your right 100 yards and come to the gated entrance and meet your shuttle ride here. Or your can be dropped off here them walk back to Nelson’s Nantahala Hideaway 5.5 miles distant, doing the hike in reverse.