Spending time in nature changes us. It immerses us in clean air, takes us to the heart of our spirituality, clears our minds, strengthens our bodies and expands our concept of community.
Wild South’s Wild Wednesday hikes in the Bankhead National Forest are opportunities for kids and their adults to enjoy our public lands together. We come to love a place when we spend time in it, and what we love we want to protect. Our hikes teach kids and adults about the wonders of nature, Leave No Trace principles and where families can spend time in stunning wild places on their own and how to do it safely. Hikers’ perceptions of the natural and cultural history of our national forest is broadened and deepened, and a sense of ownership of this place that belongs to all of us is born and, consequently, the responsibility for its care.
Measured in terms of participation and enthusiasm, this year’s Wild Wednesday hikes have once again been a huge success! There are two more left, on July 31 and August 7. Scroll down to read about them, and also to have a look at the pictures from our July Wild Wednesdays.
Grab a kid and GET OUTSIDE!
Every Wednesday in July and the first Wednesday in August, Wild South staff will lead a nature hike for kids and families to the coolest, wettest creeks and canyons of the Bankhead National Forest (AL)!
Hike details will be sent out to our e-mail list in advance of each hike, and will also be posted on Wild South’s Facebook page. To get on the e-mail list, contact Janice Barrett.
Wild Wednesday hikes are for taking time to explore, for turning over rocks and finding critters, for wading in streams and just being in our amazing forest! These outings are great ways for adults to learn of good places on our National Forest to take children. Hikers will learn about the animals and plants that live there and the Native Americans who first inhabited what is now the Bankhead National Forest. They will learn Leave No Trace principles and how to treat our forest with care.
Group sizes for each hike are limited and advance sign-up is required: Click HERE or phone Janice at 256-974-6166 to ask questions and sign up. Be sure to specify which hike(s) you are signing up for, the number in your group and ages of those under 18 and please include your phone number. Hikers with at least one child under 18 will have priority on the sign-up list. Hikes fill quickly!
All hikes are appropriate for most abilities and ages and are rated moderate. Hikes are on trails that are rough as one might expect in forested, rocky canyons. We will be in streams, under waterfalls, in swimming holes and maybe even in rain. In other words, expect to get wet!
Destinations are subject to change according to weather, water levels, road and trail conditions.
And now, THE LIST!
July 3 – Fall Creek Falls, Sipsey Wilderness
$3 per vehicle day use fee
This is our only Sipsey Wilderness hike on the Wild Wednesday list. We will follow Trail 200 from the Sipsey Recreation Area parking lot into the wilds of the Sipsey Wilderness! Walking upstream on the Sipsey Fork, passing cool rock shelters and waterfalls under the full canopy of summertime forest, we will cross Borden Creek where it flows into Sipsey and continue onto Trail 209 to Fall Creek Falls. On the way back, we will take time at the confluence of Sipsey and Borden Creek to explore and play in the water!
July 10 – Kinlock Shelter and Hubbard Creek
This 2-part outing will begin on Kinlock Road on the far western edge of the Sipsey Wilderness. This is the Kinlock Historic District, which was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in 2000 because of its enormously significant Native American, pioneer and Civil War history. Kinlock Shelter is a huge rock shelter that is a sacred site for Native Americans. Habitation dates back from 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.
After the shelter, we will drive a mile back down to Hubbard Creek, which we crossed on the way up, and explore this beautiful, deep-shaded stream!
July 17 – Sipsey Fork at the Low Pressure Bridge
This spot on the Sipsey Fork is a summertime dream come true. Swimming holes and shallow pools filled with aquatic life, the sandy river bank and a deep, cool sandstone canyon with rock shelters and a waterfall make this area perfect for playing, exploring and learning about the Black Warrior watershed. The canyon stream is home to several species of salamanders and a lush diversity of plant life.
July 24 – Brushy Lake
Brushy Lake is in the northeastern section of Bankhead NF. It was developed as a recreation and picnic area back in the 1930′s by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) when Brushy Creek was dammed. There is a trail that follows the bluffline above the lake, which we will explore, as well as a paved trail to the dam. We will hike downstream through the hemlock forest on Brushy Creek below the dam and search for salamanders, fish, crawdads and other water creatures! Birds, fish and turtles in and around the lake are abundant. There are picnic tables and our lunch will be picnic style under the tall pine trees after the hike. No need to pack lunch in backpacks for this one.
July 31 – Sipsey Recreation Area Trail
$3 per vehicle day use fee
The Sipsey Recreation Area trail follows the Sipsey Fork downstream on the southern edge of the Sipsey Wilderness, curving in and out of coves with waterfalls and old-growth trees. On the way back upstream, this hike will be in the water much of the time, water level permitting, navigating from one sandbar to another. At the end, we will have our lunch at the swimming hole!
August 7 – Caney Creek Falls
Caney Creek Falls is a year-round waterfall that falls into the perfect swimming hole! Hikers will explore the surrounding sandstone bluffs and boulders for the creatures and plants that live there. A short walk downstream takes us away from the falls on the rocky, forested creekbank and into the shallow water, turning over rocks to look for crayfish and salamanders!
The approach to the canyon waterfall is a 1-mile hike in on an old road, gradually downhill most of the way, until the end where the trail descends more steeply then is briefly precipitous. Hiking out, it’s a steep climb up for the first quarter mile or so.
For All Hikes:
After signing up, meet at the Warrior Mountains Trading Company at 11312 AL Hwy. 33, Moulton, 2 miles south of Moulton, at 9:30 a.m. Please park on the south end of the building and come into the store. We will gather at the Wild South picnic table toward the back of the store.
Wear clothes comfortable for summer hiking that can get wet, including shoes! If tick and insect repellent is used, spray only at the trailhead and as sparingly as possible.
Bring a backpack lunch (except for the Brushy Lake outing), snacks and plenty of drinking water.
Our Wild Wednesday hikes are free but donations to Wild South’s Hikes program are gratefully accepted! There will be a donation bucket on the picnic table in the store.