How to get there:
251 Loop Road Tuscumbia, AL 35674
This is not far from Spring Park in Tuscumbia, the address entered into a mapping website or GPS will get you right to it.
What to expect:
Free, trails range from smooth and flat to 'grab a root and haul yourself up'. The trail follows Cane Creek for a good while, with lots of wading and even a swimming hole.
You will need decent walking shoes, water and bring a snack and for goodness sake, your camera. Other things that would be useful-a hiking pole, though you can borrow one at the trailhead if you need to. Extra socks in case of a slip into the creek.
There are a series of privies (and trash cans) scattered through the trail system. These are basically large hard plastic sheds with a toilet inside. There is toilet paper kept in little weather-proof bins. They are basic, but much nicer than going tinkle in the woods-or walking around the curve to see someone ELSE going tinkle in the woods. Eep! Or maybe the very worst of all, sitting down to adjust your sock and seeing wadded toilet paper tucked under the root next to you. Then feeling the damp on your rear-end and wondering if it's regular rain water damp or...stranger's tinkle! ewwwww! So, the privies are awesome!
With 24-hour advance notice, you can backpack
in the canyon at one of several designated sites. One is about 300 yards from
the parking area! The rest are scattered, the newest (2011) is at the Old Beaver
Pond Area and is called Creekside, it's wide and flat. It's a personal favorite.
UPDATE: AS OF 2-15 CAMPING IS NO LONGER ALLOWED AT CANE CREEK CANYON DUE TO SITE OVERUSE
The road to the preserve is dirt and bumpy. A passenger car will not have trouble, just don't expect to come out clean if it's rained lately. Keep your speed to a minumum.
You will pass several chicken houses on the left and then go through a vine-covered gate and the road curves around to the house, which is a beautiful Spanish-style house with a tower and stucco walls. Park just past the house on the left side of the road. There are signs to direct you all the way from the main road to the parking area.
Go to the house, under the porch overhang facing the road is a sign-in stand and you can pick up a map, which is printed on canvas and is loads of fun for those of us who are visual and tactile-oriented. Each map has a number on it, jot that down on the sign-in sheet where it's asked for and you are ready to head out.
If you cache, you can pick up the first of a series of geocaches right at the sign-in table, it's in a little clear box with a lid sitting up under the roster on a shelf. It has the coordinates for the next geocache-which has the coordinates for the next one and so on.
The owners, Jim and Faye Lacefield, may be home and if they are, they will love to chat with you and answer questions, give tips and go over the map to be sure you don't miss anything really good. They are retired teachers and the preserve is a work of love for them, they have bought land, placed trails and bridges and bathrooms (!) all over it and then opened it up to anyone willing to walk down in the canyon to explore it for themselves.
We have been planning to visit here for years and I was not disappointed! Even though it's 'known' most for the spring wildflowers that grow in profusion here, going in the winter was the perfect time to get the chance to explore the area and learn the trail systems and the unique names each area and feature has.
Over several visits, we explored all of
the established trail systems. I feel confident in recommending it as a location
not to be missed!
A 60-foot double-drop waterfall, the first
feature of Cane Creek Canyon.
The trail goes over the top via a bridge, then a side trail cuts under behind the falls and down the side of the steep hill and ends at the pool below.
There are only a couple of places in the very newest addition that don't have bridges spanning the creek. There are even a couple of bridges that don't cross the creek to a new trail, they just give a great view of the creek from that location.
At the Old Beaver Pond area
At the overlook, it's a thrill to come out of the woods and walk down the short slope to find a miles-long view waiting!
Linden Meadows has a privy-off in the upper
left corner of this shot, a covered pavilion with a porch swing, 2 picnic tables,
trash can and best of all, fresh drinking water brought down via 4x4 woodland
scooter and not in your pack!
This is the turn-around point for most people, so after you pass Linden Meadows, you will often go the rest of the day without seeing anyone!
The above is Blue Hole, a swimming hole along Cane Creek. Ben is anxious to jump in, but the 60 degree high that day was just a bit too chilly just yet!
The pond, this is a very welcome sight as you walk up out of the canyon. The parking area is just on the other side!
On another visit:
Going back up via the Steep Trail.
That's not a false advertisement.
Hiking along the rim trail from the overlook to the path that winds into the canyon, skirting Tree Fern Cave and the waterfall there.
The yellow path is our first hike, the purple
is our second.
Additional hikes went into the northern section of the preserve, which is on a different map.
The view is green and more green in April!
Creekside makes a perfect campsite.
There are rings at each campsite, but sometimes burn conditions don't allow for fires, always ask if you want to have a campfire and the Lacefield's can tell you what the current conditions are.
Even under drought conditions, Blue Hole provided a COLD, but refreshing place to jump in!
The trail is often 4-wheeler tracks which
criss-cross the preserve from one end to the other.
This allows the Lacefield's to maintain trails, stock the privies, check on trail conditions, patrol for late hikers and on occasion, haul your down lunch to Linden Meadows for you! They are the kindest people and seem genuinely delighted when anyone comes to hike and explore. Jim has a doctorate in geology and has written up guides you can take along with you that point out all kinds of things about the rocks along the way. Faye is a retired teacher as well and very knowledgable in her own right and they both can describe exactly where a rare flower can be found, what you might see in any given area you are hiking to, they have locations of recent animal sightings or might have something else to tell you to look out for-like the lady slipper I walked RIGHT past!
As long as you practice Leave No Trace ethics and are respectful to the area and the things living there, you will be welcomed like long-lost relations at each visit, they seem to remember everyone and for a mom backpacking with kids and without dad, it's a huge peace of mind to know your vehicle is safe in their yard and that if anything were to go wrong, help is just up the hill. They'll even point out places on the map that you can get a cell phone signal and send you off with their phone number in hand. It's on every map!