Trail Rules + Tips

Help us provide a positive outdoor experience for all.

Trail Rules

For safety during COVID-19:

  • Please follow precautions as directed by state and local officials.
  • Maintain a safe distance from others and leave areas where you cannot do so. Step off the trail to allow others to pass by if needed.
  • Stay home if you exhibit any symptoms of illness
  • Be aware of or avoid high-touch points, such as water fountains or railings, and carry hand sanitizer to further protect yourself.

For everyone’s benefit and safety, please adhere to our simple land use rules so that we may continue providing a positive outdoor experience for all.

  • Trails open dawn to dusk
  • Trails open for hiking, biking, and horseback riding* (horseback riding is ONLY permitted at Chapman Mountain Nature Preserve or Wade Mountain Nature Preserve)
  • No motorized vehicles
  • Please stay on marked trails
  • Please stay off wet trails at least 24 hours after rainfall. Using muddy trails creates ruts, erosion, and other trail maintenance problems.
  • No new trail construction or alterations are allowed without prior permission.
  • Leave no trace. Carry out what you bring in. If you find an interesting plant or artifact, please do not remove it from the property. Instead, take a photo and share it with us (@landtrustnal) or on iNaturalist – a citizen scientist app that can help you identify and document flora and fauna as you observe it in nature. Learn more about iNaturalist.
  • Pets are welcome but must be leashed at all times.
  • The following activities are NOT ALLOWED: Fires • Hunting • Camping • Flying of Drones • Slack Lining • Metal Detecting • Removal of Plants, Minerals, or Artifacts • Rock Climbing • Rappelling
  • Once trailhead parking is full, the preserve is closed for additional visitors. Do not park on the street or in a non-designated parking spots. If a preserve is at capacity, please consider another visiting another Land Trust nature preserve. Also consider visiting at non-peak times.
  • We do not offer public camping sites. However, scouts and civic organizations may reserve Matthews Nature Preserve in Limestone County (a conservation property, not open to the public) for overnight primitive camping. Contact us for details.

Questions or Concerns? Call us at 256-534-5263.

Hiking Tips

  • Let someone know where you’ll be hiking and/or bring a buddy. Companions are for safety as well as for sharing the scenery and fun. Make certain your phone is charged.
  • Pack a map and compass. Always bring a trail map! Know how to use a map, compass, or GPS device. With miles of trails on each nature preserve, maps are the best way to ensure you don’t get lost. Downloadable PDF trail maps are available on each preserve page. GPS on your phone can be helpful but consider bringing a paper copy in case your phone dies.
    *Pro Tip! Land Trust members receive access to our FREE Trail Map App! Not a member? Join Today.
  • Stay on marked trails. Please follow trail signage. Going off trail can damage or kill certain plant or animal species and habitats. The Land Trust specifically avoids sensitive areas when planning our trails. By wandering off marked trails, you can also unintentionally create rogue trails that confuse other hikers causing them to lose their way.
  • Hydrate – before, during, and after a hike! Always carry water with you while on the trail. Maintaining body fluids is essential!
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing. Suitable footwear can help you maintain footing as you navigate rocky, uneven terrain and many hiking boots provide helpful ankle support. A long-sleeved shirt and light-weight nylon pants are a good idea. Don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • Carry out what you carry in. You can also bring a garbage bag and plastic gloves and help keep the trails clean by picking up trash during your hike.
  • Don’t disturb the wildlife. It’s their home. Observe and enjoy wildlife and plant life but leave them undisturbed. Picking, collecting, or damaging living plants, trees, artifacts, and critters is not allowed on Land Trust property.
  • Hiking Stick: Consider bringing a hiking stick, especially to assist on steep or rocky trails. They are inexpensive and can help you keep your balance to avoid injuries.
  • Valuables & Trailhead Safety: Trailheads are naturally somewhat isolated spaces so be aware of your surroundings. Lock your car and keep valuables out of sight or preferably leave them at home. If you notice suspicious activity, please notify local law enforcement.
  • Snakes: Keep an eye out for snakes. Please remember this is their natural habitat so please do not harm them. Snakes are often found sunning on rocks or trails or may hide under debris or in shady spots. Always be careful when stepping over obstructions or reaching into or around logs and rocks. If you encounter a snake, back away slowly and give them plenty of space. Chances are the snake will simply warn you or head the other way.
  • Ticks: Always check yourself and pets for ticks after hiking. But in order to avoid them, we suggest using a bug spray with DEET, permethrin, or picaridin. Wear light-colored protective clothing and tuck your pant legs into socks. Stick to the trails to avoid areas that ticks commonly reside, like tall grasses. If you find a tick, use tweezers or a tick key to remove it within 4 hours to reduce risk of infection. Make sure to remove the tick’s head from the site.
    *Pro Tip! Bring a sticky lint roller and roll it along your clothing at the end of your hike to pick up any ticks that might be hanging onto the fabric or too small to easily spot.
  • Wet Trails: Please do not hike, bike, or horseback ride on muddy trails. Besides being extra slippery, this can create ruts, erosion, and other trail maintenance problems.
  • Pets: Pets are welcome on all Land Trust nature preserves but must be kept on lead to ensure their safety and in consideration of others. Please remember that a variety of wildlife call these natural spaces home. By keeping your pet close to you, you can ensure they don’t cross paths with other animals or simply frighten fellow trail users. Horses who share multi-use trails at Chapman Mountain & Wade Mountain can be startled by dogs.  Just in case, your dog should also wear a collar with an ID tag that includes your contact information.
  • Wash Your Boots: Cleaning your hiking shoes between hikes can help prevent the spread of invasive species. By removing the dirt from your shoes, you reduces the possibility of transferring invasive plants from one hiking area to another.