Great Easy Hikes
Whether you have little ones, you’re new to hiking, or you’re just in the mood for an easy stroll, Land Trust nature preserves offer some great easy hike options.
- Piney Loop Trail – Begin from the Spragins Hollow Trailhead on Devil’s Racetrack Trail. After a short walk, you’ll take a right at the beginning of Piney Loop Trail. It meanders through the forest and despite the name there are a lot more than pines to see along the way. After .62 miles, it ends at the parking lot where you began.
- Wade Mountain Greenway | Cotton Valley Trail – Wade Mountain Greenway begins at the Pulaski Pike parking lot. This .87-mile paved pathway is part of the City of Huntsville’s Greenway system. You’ll find a pavilion along the route that’s a great spot for a picnic. At the end of the paved greenway is the beginning of Land Trust’s natural surface trails. At this point, you can either turn around to return the way you came or continue your adventure a little further beyond the pavement. After a short walk on Wade Mountain Greenway Trail, you’ll find Cotton Valley Trail. At the end of this .34-mile loop, take a right to return to the greenway and head back to the parking lot.
Pick any trail at this nature preserve for a beautiful, easy stroll. There are over 2 miles of trails to choose from. This property includes two ponds created during construction of the neighboring shopping center. Although man-made, they are naturally-stocked by nearby creeks during wet weather so bring a fishing pole (state fishing license required for anyone age 16- 64). Dry Creek Trail takes you through the wooded area of the property. Senators Trail and Pete’s Trail follows alongside active farmland. Beaverdam Trail and Eagle Trail are both accessible, crushed gravel trails along Dry Creek and Terry Pond. There is a pavilion if you need a shaded spot to sit or enjoy a meal.
- Three Caves Loop – Circle the perimeter of a large, former limestone quarry now used as a unique venue for Land Trust fundraising events. The .26-mile loop begins and ends at Three Caves Trailhead in the Blossomwood neighborhood. The trail is short but rocky with some short uphill portions.
- Wildflower Trail – This is a great family hike! The .58-mile trail winds alongside Fagan Creek and in the spring offers a beautiful display of native wildflowers. Follow the trail to its end and you’ll find Fagan Spring. Then turn around and hike back towards the trailhead. The full hike out and back is approximately 1 mile. While mostly flat, this trail is rocky with an uneven walking surface in parts and can be slippery if it has rained recently or in areas near the creek.
Hike Note: We always recommend taking a trail map when you hike but this is especially important on Monte Sano. The trail system is extensive with over 22 miles of Land Trust trails connecting to another 20 miles of State Park trails. So go with a map in hand and you’ll be prepared if you get off course.
- Jones Valley Loop – This .72-mile trail begins directly from Fanning Trailhead (located on Cecil Ashburn behind SE Church of the Nazarene). A short way in you’ll reach a bridge that crosses Bailey Cove Branch and provides a perfect spot to stop for a photo or just to enjoy the quiet sounds of nature. It’s easy to forget that you’re just around the corner from the shopping centers and bustle of Jones Valley. After crossing the bridge, the trail turns uphill. This part is a little bit challenging because of the incline but you can take it slow and the good news it the second half of your hike is all downhill. The trail crosses the creek again at the top turning back down the other side to return you to the trailhead.
- Balance Rock Trail | Rainbow Mountain Loop – Rainbow Mountain Trailhead is tucked within a residential area in Madison. While the property is owned by the City of Madison, the Land Trust manages the approximately 3.5-mile trail system. A pavilion is available for picnics as well as a playground making this a comfortable starting point for families to explore the outdoors. Beginning from the pavilion, walk towards the playground. At the playground, you’ll take a right onto Rainbow Mountain Loop. In a short distance, Balance Rock Trail will begin on your right heading uphill. Follow Balance Rock Trail along the bluff (.27 miles) until it intersects again with Rainbow Mountain Loop. Along the way, keep an eye out for the trail’s namesake Balance Rock. There’s a bench perfectly positioned there to sit and enjoy the view. At the intersection of Balance Rock Trail and Rainbow Mountain Loop, take a left onto Rainbow Mountain Loop to begin your return to the trailhead where you began. But before you go, enjoy the interesting rock formations and large boulders that serve as a natural playground.
Hike Note: We always recommend taking a trail map when you hike but especially so at Rainbow Mountain. Because of the rocky terrain, the trail path isn’t always distinct so it’s important to follow trail signs and a map can be helpful if you get turned around. It’s also important to note that while the upper portion of the trail system (closest to the trailhead) provides great hikes for families or beginners, once the trails turn downhill hikers should be prepared for a more challenging journey.
- Bethel Creek Loop – This .3-mile crushed gravel, accessible loop welcomes hikers at the start of the trail system and makes natural exploration accessible to visitors of varying abilities. The trail passes alongside working farmland and Bethel Creek before returning to the trailhead and parking area. Enjoy a picturesque valley view looking up toward Keel Mountain.
- Driskell Trail | Chasco Trail – Both of these trails are located on the southeast side of the preserve. Driskell Trail is an easy, flat one-mile loop. It starts and ends from the parking lot and circles Chapman Pines Disc Golf Course. Chasco Trail begins from Driskell Trail. This half mile loop is located near the southern border of the property along Hwy 72. Both trails wind through a pine forest and a small creek flows between the two.
- Alum Hollow Trail | East Plateau Loop – Alum Hollow Trail follows the bluff line offering views towards the Tennessee River especially visible in winter months. For a great beginner hike, take Alum Hollow Trail until you reach East Plateau Loop. Take East Plateau until it connects again with the Alum Hollow trail. Turn left back onto Alum Hollow Trail to head back to the parking lot and end your hike. The full route is about 1 mile and leads you through the forest atop Green Mountain with several benches to stop and rest along the way.
Hike Note: If you’re up for a little bit longer hike (2.5 miles round trip), you can follow Alum Hollow Trail to its final destination – Alum Falls and around the corner Alum Cave, a rock overhang that the Native Americans used for shelter. This hike is fairly easy with some change in elevation along the way and a steep downhill climb to reach the cave and waterfall at the end.
Bradford Creek Greenway is a partnership between the City of Madison and Land Trust of North Alabama. The greenway is managed and maintained by the City of Madison, however, approximately 1 mile of the 2.24 trail utilizes Land Trust property. This paved pedestrian and bike trail provides scenic views of Bradford Creek, hardwood forests, wetland areas, and a varied assortment of plants. This is a great option if you’re looking for something stroller-friendly or accessible.
Tips & Reminders
For all hikes – short or long, we recommend bringing a few essentials:
- Trail Map: Land Trust members get exclusive access to our map app but all trail maps are available to download on our website. Tip: Don’t rely on technology. It’s always a good idea to print and take a map with you in case your phone dies, especially if you are unfamiliar with the trails.
- Closed-toed Shoes
- Bug Repellant and Sunscreen
- Hiking Stick or Poles (if you need some extra stability)
Land Trust nature preserves do not have public restrooms, although some trailheads may have a portable restroom. Take a look at our trail rules and tips before you go, especially if you’re unfamiliar with trail safety and etiquette. All Land Trust nature preserves are open from dawn to dusk daily and are free to access, although we do appreciate your donations or membership. Happy hiking!