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Green Mountain: What’s the Story?

March 4, 2022

Land Trust of North Alabama currently has 97 named trails on our public nature preserves, totaling approximately 70 miles. Each one has a unique name some of which we are frequently asked about.

Many trails are named for the area’s natural or historic features. Others honor a land donor, volunteer, or critical partner of the Land Trust. However, certain trail names tell a more unique or unexpected story. No matter which one has peaked your interest or left you wondering, you’ll soon get your answer. In our blog series Trail Names: What’s the Story?, we’ll share a breakdown of all Land Trust trails – one nature preserve at a time – and explain how they got their names.

Green Mountain Nature Preserve

Trail Names: What’s the Story? Part 5

Green Mountain Nature Preserve is a peaceful oasis that feels far removed from the bustle nearby. The total preserve is 366 pristine acres featuring smalls streams and waterfalls that flow most of the year towards the Tennessee River, which is visible through the trees especially in wintertime from certain points along the bluff. Alum Cave, found at the end of the preserve’s most popular hike – Alum Hollow Trail, is a rock shelter used during the Middle Woodland period. Over 5 miles of trails wind up and across the mountainside, offering hikes ranging from easy to difficult. You can find a trail map and more information about Green Mountain Nature Preserve here.

  • Alum Hollow Trail (1.23 miles) – The name of this preserve’s most popular trail comes from Alum Cave, the rock shelter also known locally as “Alum Ledge”, which is found at the end of the trail. However, the source of the name “Alum” is unclear. Alum is a salt but there is no official indication that this occurs in the area. It’s also possible that it was named after Alum Cave in nearby Smoky Mountains National Park. Hollow is a reference to the terrain in this area, which is a distinct depression between mountain ridges.

  • East Plateau Trail (0.64 miles) & West Plateau Trail (0.44 miles) – These are pretty straightforward but they both provide easy hikes circling the eastern and western portion of the preserve along the flat area at the top of Green Mountain.

  • Stonefly Trail (0.43 miles) – Long-time volunteer Phill Gibson has contributed countless hours building and maintaining trails on this preserve as a Trail Care Partner. He also grew up on Green Mountain and spent much of his childhood wandering around the woods. You’ll see a few trail names here were influenced by him or his stories. Phill says, “I used to go over to that small creek a lot as a youngster. I was real keen on identifying insects, so I was aware that you could find stonefly larvae (order Plecoptera) in that creek. I had not found them in any other creek up there. Those are the same stoneflies that fly fishermen pattern so many of their hand-tied lures after.” Though stonefly are no longer commonly found in this location, the story inspired the name.
  • Oak Bluff Trail (0.61 miles) – This is a short trail that provides access to Oak Bluff subdivision.
  • Ranger Trail (0.64 miles) – For reasons no one is quite sure of many of our mountainsides feature abandoned cars in incredibly remote areas. In this case, you’ll find the rusting remains of a Ford Ranger truck just below Alum Cave. How it got there and why are still questions up for discussion.

  • Gibson Trail (0.22 miles) – This trail was named to honor Phill Gibson for his long-time support of the Land Trust and significant contribution to trail development on this preserve.

  • Talus Trail (0.60 miles) – Talus means “a sloping mass of rock fragments” and also refers to a small bone between the heel and lower leg. So it seemed like a fitting name considering the rocky terrain offers a high potential of ankle twisting. For the same reason, we’ve rated this trail difficult and recommend it for experienced hikers.

  • Three Sisters Loop Trail (0.43 miles) – The “Three Sisters” are the three large boulders you’ll see along this trail.
  • Turtle Creek Trail (~.25 miles) – Scheduled to open in April 2022, this trail name also comes from volunteer Phill Gibson. He remembers playing in the creek that meanders alongside this trail and recalls finding a proliferation of turtles along the banks so always called it “Turtle Creek.”

Stay tuned. More trail names to come.