We were in need of an Adventure this past Labor Day weekend and we ended up finding it after a recommendation from family who works for the forestry division here in Northern Alabama. So we embarked on a journey into the Bankhead National Forest. We started out on the Sipsey River Trail which you can see on the map below but we decided to break out in a different direction.
The base camp for this trail is a great start for a couple of easy trails or a swim in the river. There are trails that would suit beginners up through the more experienced hikers. What’s even better is that a novice and experienced hiker could be following the same trail and both find what they are looking for.
When you arrive on site there’s a parking fee of $3.00. This is collected by the honor system through a dropbox in the first parking lot. It’s one of the few places in the Bankhead National Forest that actually has a bathroom. Keep in mind that the bathroom is closer to an outhouse than a working bathroom but it is a useable restroom and its at least a few steps up from a hole in the ground. If you don’t pull in to the first parking lot there is a bridge that leads to a different parking area and we also saw some people parking along roads. There’s a nice little place to get a little wet, if you would like, right under this first bridge and we saw quite a few taking advantage of this while we were there.
Now to get on to the hike itself, you can see from the map that the Sipsey River Trail can lead you up to the Falls Creek Falls. We haven’t tried this yet and this trail seemed to be a little more crowded so it was nice that we had an alternate trail, an unnamed user made trail. Even better that it also led to a waterfall, Mills Falls. And, the most bestest part is that we had the whole trail to ourselves. Pretty good for a Holiday weekend. Probably due to the fact that it was an unmarked trail. Let me tell you how to get there.
When you cross the bridge from the first parking lot you’ll see the Bankhead National Forest Sign on the right. You’ll see the start of our trail right there and as soon as you start down make sure to veer to the left. We aren’t following the Sipsey River on this hike we are following a creek that feeds it. We probably hiked the trail 1/4 mile before we decided to take the hike into the creek as the water level was low enough to make it enjoyable to walk along in the water.
Pretty easy going but it was still a good time and the dogs absolutely loved getting off the leash and in to the water. (Please note that you should keep your furry pet on leash, however, since we had the trail alone and our dogs are trustworthy to stay with us, we allowed them off leash to play in the creek.). Might want to consider bringing a towel and maybe a change of clothes depending on how much of an adventure you want to have. About half a mile up the trail you reach your first little bit of falls.
This was a pretty fun spot and the dogs really loved the pool of water there. Of course Cody (seen below) got a little nervous and cornered himself on to a little ledge with nowhere to go.
Buddy jumped in to action to come and get him though.
It’s another 1/4 mile to the waterfall but there were lots of neat things to see along the way, both in the creek and out of it.
There was also a fair amount of interesting mushrooms along the hike.
So far it’s been a pretty cool hike but the real payoff was the falls. They weren’t huge but it was pretty cool. They were built up so you could walk around behind them and even under them if you were up for getting wet. If you really wanted to go all out there was even a great place to slide in to the pool of water at the base.
The whole hike was only 3/4 of a mile to the falls so 1.5 miles round trip. Pretty moderate for such an awesome hike. You could have continued down the creek to see what other treasured spots lie ahead and, as I said before, there are multiple other trails in the area if you are looking for a little longer adventure or more of a challenge. This receives one of the higher ratings in the area from us though and i’m quite sure we will be revisiting this spot.