June 22, 2021
Sipsey's Secrets
Exploring Alabama's Bankhead National Forest

The particular week I spent in Alabama was filled with humid, rain-soaked days, so the few hours when the skies weren’t spilling felt precious. And time was of the essence since there were only two days to explore Bankhead National Forest, an area that covers 180,000 acres. Bankhead is one of four National Forests and is located in the northwestern part of the state.

I set my sights on the Sipsey Wilderness area, home to two significant notables:

  • the Sipsey Fork, Alabama’s only National Wild and Scenic River, and 
  • the ‘Big Tree,’ a Yellow Poplar approximately 150 feet tall with a 26.8 feet circumference.

Known as the “Land of 1000 Waterfalls,” the wilderness is shaped in part to multiple limestone and sandstone layers set in a rugged landscape with stands of hemlock, oak, hickory, beech, and yellow poplar. And though it’s the most frequently visited wilderness area in Alabama, I came across very few people that lent an almost eerie ambience while hiking.

Randolph Wild Trail to the Waterfall

The hike began down an old logging road. About a mile in lies a cemetary with time-worn gravestones from the early 1900s. The trail eventually narrowed and the bluish-green waters of the swollen creek came into view.
The forest was its own museum of exquisite sculptural masterpieces.
“Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves...”  - J. R. R. Tolkien

Turkey and Mize Mills Falls

Despite the gurgling creek, there was a hushed atmosphere while walking through these woods, like a secret that only the trees shared amongst each other.
With hardly another soul around, I was truly just a mere speck in the sea of greens and browns...
A relic of the past conjures the imagination of its origin and a sense of wonder for the people gone before with their own lives and stories and wanderings.

Alabama, Sipsey Wilderness
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May 25, 2021 - Our new book, Wild Wonders of Maryland, is available for purchase!