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Topic: Alabama/Southeast Backpacking, where to start? I don't even know< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
NatalieLorin Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 05 2013, 3:40 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hey everyone,

I used to post on here fairly often (well over a year ago I think) and got lots of great help and encouragement. Well, we moved from California back to Alabama, and now I'm not sure sure where to camp/hike anymore. To be sure, camping in California was often a frustrating experiment in making reservations the moment a new month opened up, but on the other hand most of our backpacking questions could be settled by merely driving up to Yosemite and seeing what trail-heads were open.

Anyway, I'm not even sure where to start. I haven't actually camped that much in Alabama - mostly my family would go down to the lake and then take longer road trips elsewhere. My husband and I had just started tent camping (and hadn't even thought about backpacking) when we moved. And to complicate things we're expecting our first child this Fall  :p
So I'd love to get in an awesome trip before I get too big to waddle down the trail, and I'd also love some ideas for getting our little one out as early as possible.

Basically I'm at a bit of a loss right now. Any books y'all can recommend? Websites? I'd really appreciate it.


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~Big wheels keep on turning
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Singing songs about the Southland
I miss Alabama once again~
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Tipi Walter Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 05 2013, 4:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Link to this site and pick your area.

http://alabama.sierraclub.org/na.html

I just got back from a trip into the Cohutta wilderness and ran into 7 or 8 members of the Huntsville Sierra Club and they are pretty active.  Go to the website and find the pertinent emails and ask around.

Check out the Pinhoti trail which runs thru Alabama---

http://pinhotitrailalliance.org/


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John13np Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 05 2013, 4:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What part of Alabama are you in? I am just north of Mobile, and there is not too much down this way, but there are some great day hikes! Further up north there is Oak Mountain State Park which offers plenty of hiking both on ridges and down by a pretty creek. Up in the north part, especially north east, there is basically unlimited hiking/backpacking to be done.

I am new to the area, and am an avid backpacker. I am planning my first backpacking trip soon down on the Florida Trail in the Blackwater River State Forest. I can’t wait!


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ashepabst Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 05 2013, 4:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

my Bama experience is limited, but i had a blast in the Sipsey Wilderness. you do have to keep an eye on the river levels for Sipsey trips... tough to get too far without fording.

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NatalieLorin Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 05 2013, 4:41 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

We're in the Birmingham area. Currently don't mind driving 4-6 hours, but I'm sure that may get harder with a kiddo.

Ok, I've heard a fair bit about Sipsey (got a friend who's a scoutmaster), but I have to say that snakes freak me out a little. I know Alabama has more than a few. (And yes, I know that if I knew how to identify them easily I'd be more prepared.) I want to say that my dad once told me water moccasins could be aggressive. I know it's not exactly rational, but I think I'd almost rather meet a grizzly than an aggressive snake.


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I miss Alabama once again~
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 05 2013, 5:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

what? no snakes in Cali?  ...just messing with ya.  :;):

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 Post Number: 7
NatalieLorin Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 05 2013, 6:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Man, I don't think I ever saw a snake in California. Alabama though......and you don't see them until you're right up on them (or it seems that way).

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~Big wheels keep on turning
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I miss Alabama once again~
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CajunHiker Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 05 2013, 11:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

+1 on Sipsey

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 12:14 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(NatalieLorin @ Mar. 05 2013, 3:41 pm)
QUOTE
We're in the Birmingham area. Currently don't mind driving 4-6 hours, but I'm sure that may get harder with a kiddo.

Ok, I've heard a fair bit about Sipsey (got a friend who's a scoutmaster), but I have to say that snakes freak me out a little. I know Alabama has more than a few. (And yes, I know that if I knew how to identify them easily I'd be more prepared.) I want to say that my dad once told me water moccasins could be aggressive. I know it's not exactly rational, but I think I'd almost rather meet a grizzly than an aggressive snake.

4-6 hours gives you tons of options. I'm just above Birmingham, and work there. Heading to TN late tonight, but Alabama has enough to keep you busy for a very long time.
Here's some high points, convenient places, personal favorites, and places I'm just now getting into.

-Oak Mountain is close, but limited on hiking. Sometimes it's hard to beat close, though.

-Cheaha State Park/Cheaha Wilderness to the east. Great trail system, including a chunk of the Alabama Pinhoti. Tougher hiking in general, but well worth it.

-Sipsey to the west, lots of waterfalls and easy hiking tempered by a huge assortment of things that will bite you.

Within a couple of hours to the north:
-Cloudland Canyon, GA
-Walls of Jericho on the AL/TN line
-DeSoto State Park and DeSoto Scout Trail
-Little River Canyon

Worth seeing on the way to any of those during winter or spring when the water is flowing:
-High Falls(small county park, but the waterfall is ~300ft wide!)

Within 3-4 hours:
Everything from just east of Chattanooga to around Gatlinburg, TN
Google(and look at threads I've started putting on this forum in the last few months, since I'm in the same area). I'm loving this part of the Cumberland Plateau:
-Savage Gulf State Park
-Fall Creek Falls State Park
-Virgin Falls State Natural Area
-Fiery Gizzard
Lots more in TN that I'm just now discovering and exploring.

5-6 hours and you can add SE NC and NE SC, W TN, and even southern KY.
I was headed to Big South Fork and a side trip into VA for Mt. Rogers, but they're getting the crappy weather right now, and I'm not going to drive into it...

Snakes are not a big problem, but ticks and gnats are in warm weather.
I'm out pretty much weekly, and typically see a copperhead per year in the fall. Finally saw a rattler on the trail last fall, too. You do have to watch your step. Every time I see them, they are laying ON the trail after eating, and won't move unless you run over them.
Have only seen a couple of water moccasins while kayaking a creek.

Humidity is a big factor around here if you aren't used to it. Sucks the warmth out of you when it's cold, and denies your body the benefit of evaporative cooling when it's hot, which also makes hydration a big deal.

Alabama has more navigable waterways than any other state. If you're into canoeing, or any kind of kayaking, there's something to do.
Mountain biking has risen a lot in popularity, and if you're into that check out Oak Mountain and Coldwater Mountain, especially.

Snake ID...
Water moccasins are usually dark brown, sometimes black. Young ones can have brighter and more varied colors.
Copperheads have hourglass patterns. The rattlers vary, but all these are pit vipers with triangular heads, relatively fat bodies, and the pit that gives them that name between and below the nostril and eye.
See the hourglasses?




The ALaconda is the one you have to look out for!!!
This one barred my path this past fall.

Another one almost got a friend of mine a few years ago...


The snakes seem scarier, and are definitely more fun to talk about and post pics of, but seriously, worry about the bugs, especially in late afternoon and evening. Pit vipers are enough a rarity that I look forward to seeing them.
Bugs are a constant about 8 months out of the year, though, and unlike the snakes, they DO want to eat you :D
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NatalieLorin Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 1:04 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yeah, I grew up in the Southeast. I'm familiar with the whole bugs and humidity thing. I sort of figure that June through September we might not camp so much. I suppose I'm a bit of a wuss, but I'd rather take my down bag out when it's upper 20s at night than swelter when it's 90+ at night.

Thanks for all the other info. I'll be looking into it.


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~Big wheels keep on turning
Carry me home to see my kin
Singing songs about the Southland
I miss Alabama once again~
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 8:05 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

http://www.sherpaguides.com/index.html

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"Sure as I know anything, I know this - they will try again...They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people... better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin'. I aim to misbehave."
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schlanky Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 11:56 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'll echo a few recommendations from previous posts.

Cheaha State Park area is great. Look for Pinhoti Trail Map 4. In Birmingham, Mtn High Outfitters should have the map--and maybe Alabama Outdoors. You'll see a lot of people at Cheaha on weekends, but the scenery is fantastic.

Owens571 listed some great stuff in Tennessee: Fiery Gizzard, Savage Gulf, Virgin Falls. I backpacked a good bit at Frozen Head near Wartburg, TN last spring---it's a good bit further from Birmingham than the others, but also a lot of fun.

Before the weather gets too hot, Florida's Torreya State Park is good---you're never too far away from a parking lot access, so you never really feel very far from civilization, but it's got some great diverse scenery.

You may also wanna check in for into at alatrails.com.

For books, try 60 hikes within 60 miles of Birmingham by Russell Helms or Hiking Alabama by Joe Cuhaj. Library should have both.


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hiking_tiger Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 2:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Welcome back.

I'll add Guntersville and Monte Sano state parks. At either one, you could set up in the primitive camping area and use that as a basecamp for day hikes. 30+ miles of trail at Guntersville and Monte Sano has a little over 14 (and a LOT of up and down) plus there's the Huntsville Land Trust adjacent which adds 23 more miles.


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