My first visit to Piney Creek Wilderness was a 2.5 hour day hike that further piqued my interest in seeing more. I finally got back for a second visit and made it an over-nighter with 6 others from the Adventure Club.
We drove down Saturday morning to the Tower Trail Head and were on the trail by about 2:00 PM. We hiked down the ridge west of the Lake Trail and found a nice area for camp. The ridge tends to be pretty narrow so you can’t get out of sight of the trail but we had no human visitors. After setting up camp we hiked on down the ridge to Piney Creek and headed east, hoping to get to Table Rock Lake but ran out of daylight. I don’t know whether it was the lack of a camp fire or the long climb from the creek back to camp, but right after dinner most people went to bed. We had full moon so it never got very dark. I woke up at one point thinking it was almost dawn, but it was just after midnight.
On Sunday we packed, took our stuff back to the trail head to stash it in the vehicles, and headed out with a much lighter load for the grand tour – east to the Lake Trail, south and down hill to Piney Creek, continuing south and uphill on Tar Kiln Trail to the south trail head, then back north on Siloam Spring trail, across Piney Creek again and up the hill on Tower trail. We did it in 5 hours with a stop for lunch and it was quite a workout. I think we were all glad to see the parking lot again.
Piney Creek had a couple small pools down toward the lake but was otherwise very dry. All the drainages we saw were dry as well. The scattered stock ponds had some water but I’d drink from them only as a last resort.
We didn’t see Siloam Spring, the lake, the cave, nor about half of Piney Creek Trail. Of course, even if you walk every foot of trail you’ve probably still seen less than 10% of this rugged landscape. The area is easily big enough to spend 3 or 4 days exploring if you’re willing to do a bit of bushwhacking, and I’m already planning a return trip.
The best trail map I’ve found for the area is here.