The promise of cooler weather has many of us thinking about hiking and hanging! To that end, it's time to start planning the first Sipsey Wilderness fall hangout of 09.
I talked to a few of the usual suspects, so we're going to try for the weekend of Halloween (Oct 30-Nov 1). I may even go and camp on the 29th. But, at any rate we'll post a plan of where we should be each day so late-comers can join us.
Some relevant links -
Sipsey Wilderness Info
Previous Trip Reports -
Winter Hangout 1, Winter Hangout 2, Summer Hangout
As usual, this is more of a backcountry hangout and hiking is involved. Everyone is welcome! If you think you can make it, just chime in and we'll start figuring out the details.
I look forward to seeing everyone!
The plan -
Thursday Afternoon - As an initial meeting point, converge on the Sipsey River Recreation area parking lot at around 3-4pm. From there, we can combine vehicles and shuttle ourselves over to AL2, and park at the FS gate to hike into the Caney Creek area. The hike to the lower falls is ~2 miles, and some of the trail is quite rugged, but worth every step. We will camp below Lower Caney falls.
Friday - Explore Upper Caney Creek and down to Lower Caney Creek Falls and the surrounding canyon before returning to camp and hiking out. From there, depending on how long we take in that canyon we can do another scenic dayhike (perhaps Sougahoagdee or Kinlock), or continue shuttling on to Thompson Trailhead. From Thompson Trailhead, we will hike the unofficial trail through Whiteoak Hollow into the Bee Branch Area. We will camp either in West Bee Branch Canyon, or above the exit to East Bee Branch Canyon. Tentative meetup on Friday at Thompson Trailhead at 3pm, or latecomers can hike to meet us by following Trails 208->224->204.
Saturday - Explore East Bee Canyon, and the unofficial trail back to the Sipsey River Trail (209). From there, we will hike west along 209 to trail 206 and check out a few landmarks (Auburn Falls, Hook Riddle Shelter, Eye of the Needle, etc), and cross Thompson Creek into the Quillen Creek area. This will take us off trail, but into a rugged and scenic canyon. We will hike until finding a suitable camping location, and spend the remainder of the day exploring the area. Those arriving Saturday morning can park at Thompson Trailhead and hike down 206 to Auburn Falls to meet at around 10am.
Sunday - Either hike back to Thompson Creek and up trail 206 for a quick exit, or continue up Quillen Creek to any vehicles that we stage at the Arnold Motorway Trailhead.
This is just a proposed rough idea that we can refine as we go. The 'base' distances are relatively short 5-6 miles per day, but with *ample* opportunity for further exploration of the known beauty of the canyons there. This route will take us past many waterfalls, bluff shelters, winding streams, the largest tree in the state, rock outcroppings, etc. It should be fun!
-- Driving Directions to the meetup points --
Directions to CR60 (Cranal Road) -
From North - Follow Hwy 33 south from Moulton AL for about 15 miles. CR60 (right turn) will be marked, and there are signs indicating turns for both Sipsey Rec area and Borden Trailhead there.
From South - Follow Hwy 33 north from Double Springs AL for about 12 miles. CR 60 (left turn).
Thursdsay at Sipsey River recreation area - From the intersection of Hwy 33 and CR60 (Cranal Road) follow CR60 to the bridge crossing the Sipsey River. The rec area is on the left, just before the bridge. Ample parking ($3/night fee). We will meet here and combine/shuttle vehicles to go to the Caney Creek area. Parking is limited there, so we should take as few vehicles as possible.
Friday at Thompson Trailhead at 3-4pm - From the intersection of Hwy 33 and CR60, follow CR60 for approx 11 miles until it ends at Kinlock Road. Turn right. Follow the road (pavement turns to gravel after about 1 mile) for ~5 miles before it ends at the intersection with CR 303. Make a right turn on CR303, and follow for less than one mile and turn onto CR3, which you follow until it dead ends at the trailhead. Marker signs for Thompson Trailhead will begin at the intersection with CR303.