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Bethel Spring: What’s the Story?

July 1, 2021

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.

Bethel Spring Nature Preserve

Trail Names: What’s the Story? Part 1

We’ll begin with our newest public property – Bethel Spring Nature Preserve. While 2 miles of trails may not sound like much, it packs a big punch. This portion of Keel Mountain features one of Madison County’s largest waterfalls and picturesque scenery around every bend. You can find a trail map and more information about Bethel Spring Nature Preserve here.

Bethel Creek Loop Trail (0.33 miles) – Bethel Creek winds alongside the trail. The creek begins from a spring located at the base of the mountain (near the beginning of Carpenter Trail). Water from the spring is the same that flows over the waterfall. It dives underground at the falls and journeys downhill underground before reappearing as Bethel Creek. We know the creek provides an ideal habitat for a variety of aquatic species but the Land Trust is currently working with local biologists to identify exactly what kinds of fish and mussels are found here. A fish count conducted by UAH in 2017 identified Bethel Creek as having a particularly healthy population of Flame Chub (Hemitremia flammea) and Blackfin Darters (Etheostoma nigripinne).

Carpenter Trail (0.42 miles) – Harry Carpenter lived on the property that is now Bethel Spring Nature Preserve with his wife Sally and daughters Marcell and Doris. His daughters would later donate the land they inherited from him to the Land Trust so it could be preserved and shared with others.

Falling Sink Trail (0.59 miles) – Falling Sink is the name of the showstopper waterfall you’ll find at the end of this trail. The hike to get there can be challenging but is definitely worth it and once you arrive you can take a break while enjoying the cool mist from the falls.

Mill Trail (0.48 miles) – Not far downhill from the waterfall, you’ll find the remains of a stone foundation. This was the old mill, once the center of commerce of the Bethel Spring community. It is believed that settlers built the mill in the early 1800s, using water from the falls to drive the mill wheel. Past accounts suggest that a wooden trough funneled water from the falls to the location of the mill.

Stay tuned. More trail names to come.