Sometimes the word "wilderness" gets thrown around with abandon these days but Sipsey earns its designation honestly. With nearly 25,000 acres under protection, this is the third largest wilderness area in the country east of the Mississippi River but don't expect to find many signs when you drive here. Maps are similarly in short supply. Don't even think about a Visitor Center.
Out on the trail it is more of the same. There are no casual canine hikes here, rather this a place of adventure for your dog. There is a memorable 100-foot passage for your dog through a narrow cave and water crossings (maybe even swims for your dog) are not uncommon.
Wild-flowing creeks in northwestern Alabama converge to become the Sipsey River, 61 miles of which has been designated Wild and Scenic. Enough water tumbles over cracks in limestone foundations that Sipsey, a part of the Bankhead National Forest, has been hailed as the “Land of 1,000 Waterfalls.”
Unlike the waterfall hunting in other regions you do not drive from one hydrospectacular to another in the Sipsey Wilderness. Instead, you plant yourself in a camp and explore the region with your dog on foot. Six established trails can be combined to form hiking loops of many hours duration into the heart of Sipsey. Many of the waterfalls can’t be reached by trail regardless - when you hear falling water start bushwhacking through the forest to find the source, often drips over wide, moss-covered rock ledges.
One of the most reliable and easiest to reach water spouts is Fall Creek Falls that is directly on Trail 209, less than one mile from its eastern junction with Trail 200, a major north-south passage through the forest. Traveling south from the Borden Creek Bridge trailhead the journey is less than three miles and as lovely a hike as you can take with your dog to a waterfall.
Bankhead National Forest, Alabama
Take the trail back to the February 2010 Newsletter
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