Sipsey Wilderness Trail Guide

 

The Sipsey Wilderness is probably the most popular hiking and backpacking area in Alabama, and for good reason. I've hiked all but a few miles of trails in the Sipsey, but it has been a while for most of them. I'm planning on using the Sipsey as a training ground for my Pinhoti thru-hike in March, so why not do a web guide on it as well. The Sipsey guide will complete the my review of the major backpacking trails in Alabama. There are a couple of other web sites that give good information on the Sipsey to which I provide links.

The Sipsey is the place to go if you love waterfalls, forested canyons, and sandstone cliffs and formations. The trail ratings range from two to four stars by my rating system. The trails area all east to moderate in difficulty and have now been expanded to over 45 miles of trails, although over 13 of those miles are on old roads and not very interesting for hiking other than as connector trails. Some of the most interesting hiking in the area is off trail, don't hesitate to leave the trail when you hear a waterfalls or see the outline of a cliff. Off trail excursions are usually better in the winter when the leaves and much of the underbrush is down. This area was hit by an ice storm in December of 1998, you will see the remains of this storm when you are hiking and it may affect your off trail excursions. The trails appear to have been cleared of the debris. Camping is allowed through out the wilderness, horses are allowed only on the road trails. Fire restrictions may be in place.

My favorite trails here are 206, the Bee Branch, and 200. The best time of the year to go is the winter, when the leaves are down and you can bushwhack. Many of the waterfalls, if not most, are off of the trails. There are lots of possibilities here for exploring, and in the winter this isn't too hard. Trail 210 is VERY long, it winds around the edge of the ridge forever. It also doesn't offer the nice views that the map suggests it might offer, at least not in the winter. Of course, I hiked it when the temp was 98 deg, so that could play into my assessment. The creation of 210 creates some good potential loops, try this 2-3 day 32 mile loop: From the Sipsey River Recreational Trailhead take 209-200-210-223, bushwhack down Whiteoak Hollow (there is kind of a trail at the end) then take 206-209-East Bee Branch-204-209 back to the trailhead. The other thing that might be even better would be to set up a basecamp around the 206-209 junction and then do a bunch of exploring of Quillan Creek, Hubbard Creek, Parker Branch, and the West Bee Branch.

 Trail Maps.

 Trail Maintenance.

 East Bee Branch Trail.

 Trail 200 - Borden Creek Trail.

 Trail 201 - Rippey Trail.

 Trail 202 - Randolph Trail.

 Trail 203 - Borden Creek Area.

 Trail 204 - Bunyan Hill Trail.

 Trail 205.

 Trail 206 - Thompson Creek Trail.

 Trail 208 - North West Trail.

 Trail 209 - Sipsey River Trail.

 Trail 210 - Mitchell Ridge Area Trail.

 Trail 223 - Gum Pond Area Trail.

 Trail 224 - Bunyan Hill Trail.

 Natural Bridge Recreation Area.

 Suggested Loops.

Trip Reports

 Longleaf Redneck explores: Quillan Creek (2001).

 Tommy Gardner on a January weekend (2002).

 My trip report: hiking South Caney Fork (2000).

Links

 Sipsey Wilderness Links.

Reports on Trail Conditions

Sipsey Wilderness Trail Guide

 

The Sipsey Wilderness is probably the most popular hiking and backpacking area in Alabama, and for good reason. I've hiked all but a few miles of trails in the Sipsey, but it has been a while for most of them. I'm planning on using the Sipsey as a training ground for my Pinhoti thru-hike in March, so why not do a web guide on it as well. The Sipsey guide will complete the my review of the major backpacking trails in Alabama. There are a couple of other web sites that give good information on the Sipsey to which I provide links.

The Sipsey is the place to go if you love waterfalls, forested canyons, and sandstone cliffs and formations. The trail ratings range from two to four stars by my rating system. The trails area all east to moderate in difficulty and have now been expanded to over 45 miles of trails, although over 13 of those miles are on old roads and not very interesting for hiking other than as connector trails. Some of the most interesting hiking in the area is off trail, don't hesitate to leave the trail when you hear a waterfalls or see the outline of a cliff. Off trail excursions are usually better in the winter when the leaves and much of the underbrush is down. This area was hit by an ice storm in December of 1998, you will see the remains of this storm when you are hiking and it may affect your off trail excursions. The trails appear to have been cleared of the debris. Camping is allowed through out the wilderness, horses are allowed only on the road trails. Fire restrictions may be in place.

My favorite trails here are 206, the Bee Branch, and 200. The best time of the year to go is the winter, when the leaves are down and you can bushwhack. Many of the waterfalls, if not most, are off of the trails. There are lots of possibilities here for exploring, and in the winter this isn't too hard. Trail 210 is VERY long, it winds around the edge of the ridge forever. It also doesn't offer the nice views that the map suggests it might offer, at least not in the winter. Of course, I hiked it when the temp was 98 deg, so that could play into my assessment. The creation of 210 creates some good potential loops, try this 2-3 day 32 mile loop: From the Sipsey River Recreational Trailhead take 209-200-210-223, bushwhack down Whiteoak Hollow (there is kind of a trail at the end) then take 206-209-East Bee Branch-204-209 back to the trailhead. The other thing that might be even better would be to set up a basecamp around the 206-209 junction and then do a bunch of exploring of Quillan Creek, Hubbard Creek, Parker Branch, and the West Bee Branch.

 Trail Maps.

 Trail Maintenance.

 East Bee Branch Trail.

 Trail 200 - Borden Creek Trail.

 Trail 201 - Rippey Trail.

 Trail 202 - Randolph Trail.

 Trail 203 - Borden Creek Area.

 Trail 204 - Bunyan Hill Trail.

 Trail 205.

 Trail 206 - Thompson Creek Trail.

 Trail 208 - North West Trail.

 Trail 209 - Sipsey River Trail.

 Trail 210 - Mitchell Ridge Area Trail.

 Trail 223 - Gum Pond Area Trail.

 Trail 224 - Bunyan Hill Trail.

 Natural Bridge Recreation Area.

 Suggested Loops.

Trip Reports

 Longleaf Redneck explores: Quillan Creek (2001).

 Tommy Gardner on a January weekend (2002).

 My trip report: hiking South Caney Fork (2000).

Links

 Sipsey Wilderness Links.

Reports on Trail Conditions[Sipsey/Reports/Reports/p1.htm]

Write a report for the Sipsey Wilderness

 

Hiking Alabama

This site is brought to you by the Alabama Hiking Trail Society, dedicated to completing the Eastern Continental Trail and increasing hiking opportunities in Alabama.  We hope you find the information useful and will consider supporting the AHTS.  Before you leave please visit the AHTS web page to learn more about us and the work we do.

Please help make this site interactive by providing your feedback and updates on the trails and signing the guestbook.  The guestbook and discussion board can be found under "Trail Talk." 

About Lee, webmaster and author of Hiking Alabama

Last Updated: April 2003

© 1999, 2000, 2001 M. Lee Van Horn. All text and photos on this site are the exclusive copyright of M. Lee Van Horn and the Alabama Hiking Trail Society unless otherwise noted. No text or photos may be reproduced without consent of the author. No page herein may be reproduced or contained within another page or window. Links to this site are greatly appreciated and should be directed to this page.

Write a report for the Sipsey Wilderness

 

Hiking Alabama

This site is brought to you by the Alabama Hiking Trail Society, dedicated to completing the Eastern Continental Trail and increasing hiking opportunities in Alabama.  We hope you find the information useful and will consider supporting the AHTS.  Before you leave please visit the AHTS web page to learn more about us and the work we do.

Please help make this site interactive by providing your feedback and updates on the trails and signing the guestbook.  The guestbook and discussion board can be found under "Trail Talk." 

About Lee, webmaster and author of Hiking Alabama

Last Updated: April 2003

© 1999, 2000, 2001 M. Lee Van Horn. All text and photos on this site are the exclusive copyright of M. Lee Van Horn and the Alabama Hiking Trail Society unless otherwise noted. No text or photos may be reproduced without consent of the author. No page herein may be reproduced or contained within another page or window. Links to this site are greatly appreciated and should be directed to this page.