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  1. #1
    Senior Member hikenbike's Avatar
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    Suggestions for Sipsey Wilderness, AL

    I'm visiting my brother in Huntsville, AL in mid-November. We'd like to do an easy 2 night/3 day backpacking loop in the Sipsey Wilderness. We'd prefer easy daily mileage. A loop would be ideal but we would consider base camping and day hiking if that's better.

    Does anyone have any suggested routes/plans?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Chriss's Avatar
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    PM squidbilly. He could recommend some great routes for you guys. Spend a couple of days there in January and absolutely loved it! I started at the Sipsey Trailhead (200) up the (207) acrosss the (208) down (224) to (204) and hit the (209) back to (200). The (207) was not well marked and I was a bit off-trail for about 4-5 hours. This loop was approx 22 miles. I would do it again. Cheers!

  3. #3
    MississipVol's Avatar
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    I recently did a 3-day/2 night loop in the Sipsey and the mileage was not bad at all (only about 4 miles a day so super easy actually).

    We parked at Randolph trailhead and took 202 over to 209. There is a nice canyon right on your right just before the river that is really nice with a tall waterfall. You cross the river and take 209 west. You would need to be aware that there are a few steep ditches you will have to cross in this section. We camped about a 1/4 mile away from 204. We then took 204 north until you can turn left and take the trail down to 204A. 204A has a LOT of downed trees, which can be pretty exhausting depending on the shape you are in. At some point down 204A you can turn back to your right and go into the canyon where the Big Tree is located and see another nice waterfall.

    We took 204A south to 209 and started back west on 209. We found a great camping spot a short distance down 209 right beside the river with a nice beach area. Even though the water was only shin deep we 'swam' that night. We then hiked down 209 the next morning until we could cross over to 201 (this can be easy to miss). After a steep climb up from the river it is a very easy 2 mile hike down 201 and back to the Randolph trailhead.

    If that doesn't fit your bill, there are some guys that know TONS more about Sipsey than I do, including squidbilly. They can definitely help you out.

  4. #4
    squidbilly's Avatar
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    Either one of the trips described above is a good is a good one for that time frame, although MississipVol's route might allow more time for goofing off and exploring. (side trip to The Big Tree or White Falls)

    Most of the trails are easy walking and you make good time:the official trails, that is. In keeping with the wilderness feel of the area, there are no blazes on the trees, just wooden trail marker posts at intersections. I would recommend www.sipseywilderness.org for info on the area. Read the trail descriptions so you know what to expect. There are lots of topo maps you can print. Although there have been some changes, the maps are still indispensable for navigating the area. One example of change not reflected on the map is: The Borden Creek Trailhead has been moved about a half mile, so now you can't drive all the way to Borden Creek. Makes for a half mile uphill walk on the way out.

    PM me if you have questions, I'll try to answer them.

  5. #5
    squidbilly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MississipVol View Post
    I recently did a 3-day/2 night loop in the Sipsey and the mileage was not bad at all (only about 4 miles a day so super easy actually).

    We parked at Randolph trailhead and took 202 over to 209. There is a nice canyon right on your right just before the river that is really nice with a tall waterfall. You cross the river and take 209 west. You would need to be aware that there are a few steep ditches you will have to cross in this section. We camped about a 1/4 mile away from 204. We then took 204 north until you can turn left and take the trail down to 204A. 204A has a LOT of downed trees, which can be pretty exhausting depending on the shape you are in. At some point down 204A you can turn back to your right and go into the canyon where the Big Tree is located and see another nice waterfall.

    We took 204A south to 209 and started back west on 209. We found a great camping spot a short distance down 209 right beside the river with a nice beach area. Even though the water was only shin deep we 'swam' that night. We then hiked down 209 the next morning until we could cross over to 201 (this can be easy to miss). After a steep climb up from the river it is a very easy 2 mile hike down 201 and back to the Randolph trailhead.

    If that doesn't fit your bill, there are some guys that know TONS more about Sipsey than I do, including squidbilly. They can definitely help you out.

    I was thinking you saw White creek Falls until I read to the end. If you took 202 in, Featherhawk Falls is on the left before you cross Sipsey Fork and head west on 209.

    When you crossed back over to 201 and climbed out: had you headed back downstream following the trail along the bank and turned up the first draw with a stream, you would have seen White Falls. It's only about 1/4 mile from the crossing. If you scramble up top the top using the ledges on the right side, you will see Valentine Pool, a deep heart-shaped pool at the upper fall. This is also a nice dayhike from Randolph trailhead. Take 201 to the river, don't cross, walk downstream (right) to the first stream coming in from the right. Follow up to the Falls.

  6. #6
    MississipVol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squidbilly View Post
    I was thinking you saw White creek Falls until I read to the end. If you took 202 in, Featherhawk Falls is on the left before you cross Sipsey Fork and head west on 209.

    When you crossed back over to 201 and climbed out: had you headed back downstream following the trail along the bank and turned up the first draw with a stream, you would have seen White Falls. It's only about 1/4 mile from the crossing. If you scramble up top the top using the ledges on the right side, you will see Valentine Pool, a deep heart-shaped pool at the upper fall. This is also a nice dayhike from Randolph trailhead. Take 201 to the river, don't cross, walk downstream (right) to the first stream coming in from the right. Follow up to the Falls.
    Wow! I didn't know we were so close to several sights over near 201. We will have to explore more on the next trip we take there.

  7. #7
    squidbilly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MississipVol View Post
    Wow! I didn't know we were so close to several sights over near 201. We will have to explore more on the next trip we take there.
    There's another gem near 201 worth exploring also: Parker Branch runs roughly parallel to 201 just to the west. It has waterfalls, cascades, cliffs/steep gorge, bluff shelters. Bushwack in or out from 201. There is an easier trail in that leads to Parker Falls from Kinlock Rd., but it's in and out the same way-no loop. Park at the small pull-off on the right just before the pavement ends. You may have noticed it if you've ever driven around to Thompson Trailhead.

  8. #8
    Senior Member hikenbike's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the input - excellent!

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    I went a few months ago. I did a write up in the trip reports section. 208 is a really nice old road to hike down. It doesn't offer scenic overlooks, waterfalls, or established camping spots. It's also infested with bees and gnats. Plus I heard bigfoot grunting at me from the bushes. A lot of it is very muddy, it can be quite strenuous, and being an old wide road t offers little shade.

    Wait, why did I like hiking 208?

  10. #10
    squidbilly's Avatar
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    What I liked about 208 : After climbing out of the Brazile Creek valley, you enter that old upland hardwood forest. Nice, makes me . Plus, sasquatch grunting at you from somewhere: priceless.

    Also, near the junction of 208/224, seems like the highest spot in the Wilderness Area. Best cell signal anyway. Beautiful view in the winter.

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