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A Few of our Favorite Hikes

December 19, 2022

As the holidays approach and family and friends gather, we hope our trails can offer you entertainment, adventure, solitude, fellowship, rejuvenation – whatever it is you need during this busy, festive time of year.

Simply pick a nature preserve, plan your route, gather your supplies, and head out for a hike! If you need some inspiration for where to go, below you’ll find a round up of some of the Land Trust staff’s favorite hikes.

Each winter, Land Trust staff takes a break from work to enjoy a hike together. This photo is from our most recent outing on a beautiful morning in November. Pictured (left to right): Melanie Manson, Tim Gels, Tim Barnack, Hallie Porter, Andy Prewett, Terrie Pung, Lori Pence, Marie Bostick

If you’re able, we hope you’ll also take a moment to make a year-end gift and help us reach our $115,000 Giving Season goal. Your support protects thousands of acres in North Alabama and ensures we’re able to continue preserving more land into the future. Your support makes it possible to open properties to the public, create and maintain trails for recreation, and offer educational opportunities for all ages. Your support conserves natural resources, including incredible plants and animals, that are truly irreplaceable. Without your thoughtful generosity, our community would lose these unique spaces whose benefits and treasures are boundless.

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Happy Hiking!


Marie Bostick

Executive Director

Chapman Mountain Nature Preserve
Route: Moonshine Trail > Terry Trail > Whole Planet Trail > Moonshine Trail (~1.8 miles)

Hiking the Terry “Big Tree” Trail is full of big and small surprises. As you leave the Terry Pavilion, you begin on the Moonshine Trail. This will soon take you past the new bird blind, where you may see several of those “small” surprises. Shortly Moonshine Trail intersects with Terry Trail, which will take you up the slope. You’ll pass Mossy Falls, a unique rockfall covered with moss with no discernable water source. It is seemingly out of place, which only adds to its surprising beauty. Continuing to walk through the hardwood forest you can’t help but be impressed by the “big” trees. Many have signs that share fun facts, so you can learn about the trees that surround you. You complete the loop back to the pavilion by following Whole Planet and Moonshine Trails. It’s a fun, short hike that is one of my favorite lunchtime getaways.


Andy Prewett

Land Manager

Wade Mountain Nature Preserve
Route: Piney Loop > Devils Racetrack Trail, start and end at Spragins Hollow Trailhead (~4 miles)

I enjoy the variety of terrain the trails offer from hardwoods, thru rocky terrain, to the grassy barren at the top of the mountain. There is a variety of plant and animal life that resides in these varied habitats that appear when you least expect them. Above all else, is the quiet. Wade Mountain offers the silence of the woods that provides comfort and solace in a hectic urban environment that is often needed to relieve the stress of everyday turmoil.


Hallie Porter

Development Director

Green Mountain Nature Preserve
Route: Alum Hollow Trail > Talus Trail > Gibson Trail > Ranger Trail > Alum Hollow Trail > Stonefly Trail (via the connector trail above the waterfall) > West Plateau Trail > Alum Hollow Trail back to the trailhead (~2.6 miles)

This hike is challenging and oh so rewarding! Rock features and bluffs remain consistent on the lower portions of the trail as do wild flower and wet areas. A trip on this portion of Talus and Gibson Trail during the fall is stunning as the sun squeezes through the colored canopy highlighting the leaves like stained glass. A rest stop around Turtle Creek is definitely warranted as it is one of the most relaxing spots along the trail. The next portion of Ranger Trail is absolutely beautiful as it winds through a pine stand and around the lip of the gorge. Stonefly and West Plateau trails and rolling and wind through the hardwood areas and Alum Hollow takes you along the ridge for views of the neighboring ridge top and during winter a view of the Tennessee River.


Tim Gels

Education Director

Wade Mountain Nature Preserve
Route: Devil’s Racetrack Trail > Rock Wall Trail > Shovelton Trail > Devil’s Racetrack Trail, completing the loop at the top before heading down Devil’s Racetrack to the trailhead, start and end at Spragins Hollow Trailhead (~3.75 miles)

This is a relatively easy hike that covers most of the east side of the preserve. It’s a beautiful walk through the oak-hickory forest of the hollow that winds up to the racetrack itself. The view from the track is stunning, allowing hikers to see into Tennessee some 10 miles to the north, and the walk back down to the trailhead takes you past some of the many interesting limestone features on the mountain. This is a trail that’s different every time I walk it!


Melanie Manson

Marketing Director

Wade Mountain Nature Preserve
Route: Piney Loop Trail > Devil’s Racetrack Trail for a short stretch returning back to the trailhead, start and end at Spragins Hollow Trailhead (~.62 mi)

This short, easily-accessible trail has become an unexpected favorite. In this season of my life with little ones in tow, I appreciate a quick opportunity to get outside that’s not too demanding for little legs. My son leads the way pausing periodically to inspect a bug or stick or flower along the trail and there’s something new to see in every season.


Terrie Pung

Administrative Assistant

Bethel Spring Nature Preserve
Route: Bethel Loop Trail > Carpenter Trail > Falling Sink Trail > Mill Trail > Carpenter Trail > Bethel Loop Trail (~1.8 miles)

I love Bethel Spring. The hike to the waterfall is challenging, but doable for a casual hiker like me. And the falls are absolutely breathtaking. But I also love the peacefulness of the area. The shady benches by the creek are the perfect place to be still and just take it all in. The fact that Bethel Spring was a family farm with such a rich history makes it even more special. Definitely one of my favorite spots!


Amanda Weisenberger

Volunteer Coordinator

Rainbow Mountain Nature Preserve
Route: From Stoneridge Park head south on Rainbow Loop (past Baby Balance Rock) > Wild Trail > Spring Trail (for the tiniest bit) > Rainbow Loop to climb back up to the trailhead (~.8 miles)

My favorite hike is on our Rainbow Mountain Nature Preserve in Madison. Being so close, our family has hiked these trails over and over again! My favorite time of year on Rainbow is late fall and winter because of the spectacular views! The trails on Rainbow were my kid’s first hiking experiences and they have loved exploring rock formations and racing back to the top ever since. Although it can be a somewhat strenuous climb to the top, there are so many beautiful places to rest and allow yourself to move at your own pace.


Tim Barnack

Land Steward

Monte Sano Nature Preserve
Route: Old Railroad Bed Trail > Alms House Trail > Gaslight Trail > Tollgate Trail, start and end at Bankhead Trailhead (~1.8 miles)

One of my favorite hikes is on Monte Sano, we hike with our dogs and make a loop using Railroad Bed to Alms House to Gaslight to Tollgate. It’s about 1.5 miles, the dogs love it. There’s usually water in the creek at Alms House and Railroad Bed for the dogs to play in. We alternate the direction depending on the dog’s wishes.


Lori Pence

Land Steward

Monte Sano Nature Preserve
Route: Bluff Line Trail (south) > Wagon Trail (west) > Alms House Trail (east) to the trailhead, start and end at Bankhead Trailhead (~3 miles)

It’s right at 3 miles and a nice mix of bluffs, rock features and water ways. It’s the hike that put the Land Trust on my radar many years ago and why I believe in the mission and love working here.


Katey Deasy

Financial Administrator

Monte Sano Nature Preserve
Route: Wildflower Trail to the end and return back the way you came, start and end at Cleermont Trailhead (1.16 miles)

I love wildflower trail in the spring to see all the flowers blooming! I follow it to the spring and then turn around and follow it back. Something new is blooming every week in the spring. Sometimes counting 14 varieties.

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