SR 196 begins at U.S. Route 72 in Piperton, within a few yards of the Tennessee state line with Mississippi. It travels north until it intersects with Old State Line Road near the center of town and turns east then north across the Norfolk Southern Railway. It crosses TN 57 near the commercial center of Piperton. It continues north and crosses the Wolf River. From here it heads in an easterly direction somewhat parallel with the river and then turns sharply north again. After about 10 miles, it crosses TN 193 near the community of Canadaville. From here the road curves through relatively hilly terrain for the area. It intersects US 64 in the community of Hickory Withe. Until a few years ago, the road intersected at US 64, turned west along the highway, and turned north at a separate intersection. However the southern portion was rerouted to line up with the northern portion and a traffic light was added at the intersection.From Hickory Withe, the road continues north, crosses I-40, and ends at US 70/79 in Braden.
The Memphis MPO and TDOT are currently planning to construct an interchange at the I-40/SR 196 crossing in the next few years. For now the planning and design stages are complete and right-of-way is being acquired. The plan is to construct a diamond interchange and leave enough land to add loop ramps in the future.