Bankhead National Forest-Camping, Hiking

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The beautiful Bankhead National Forest features roughly 150 miles or multi-use trails and plenty of recreational opportunities.

Written by

Loretta Lynn


100.0 miles

Bankhead National Forest (BNF) offers more than 100 miles of trails including primitive camping, RV sites, beaches, fishing, hunting and birding. Best to call the Rangers Station prior to visiting. Some trails and campsites maybe closed due to fire or other issues.

Destination Distance From Downtown

63.7 miles


3 of 5 diamonds

Access to trails by vehicle to the trailheads, not well marked, rocky terrain, some steep descents. Wear sturdy shoes or boots and consider walking sticks

Time To Complete

1 hours

Vary by trail, 1 hour - 3+ hours if doing more than one trail or if camping and spending the night.


All Seasons

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

On leash allowed in designated areas.

Fees Permits


$3 per vehicle for day use @ Sipsey. Depends on if just hiking, camping, or if in another area of the National Forest. Camping fees vary by location.

Topographical Map

Map of Sipsey Trails



One of Alabama’s gems, Bankhead National Forest is a cornucopia of outdoor activities. Explore your backyard by trekking through a myriad of 100 miles of beautiful hardwood and pine wilderness trails, discover picturesque waterfalls, camp under the stars and paddle the Smith Lake or Sipsey River watching wildlife in their natural habitat.

Breathe in fresh air as your senses take in the beauty surrounding you. Unplug from the fast paced, chaotic world around you and appreciate what you have now. Bankhead beckons everyone to celebrate life in the outdoors. From rustic campsites and modern RV hookups, to boat launches, pavilions and picnic sites, to hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking trails. Bankhead even offers game hunting and a shooting range.

What Makes It Great

Sipsey Wilderness, northwest part of the Bankhead National Forest, is popular for the dozens of waterfalls with 55 miles of trails and backcountry camping. Access into Sipsey, can be obtained through one of the five trailheads along the perimeter: Gum Pond, Flannagin, Sipsey, Randolph or Thompson. Trailheads inside the Wilderness include: Braziel and Borden. Caney Creek trail begins at an obscure opening along County Road 2. There are no markings on this trail and plenty of pine trees a long the easy to moderate hike. Approximately one mile in, you’ll crest a hill and can hear the waterfall. Camping is popular along this waterfall.

An easy trail is #201- Rippey, 2.6 miles, which begins at Randolph Trailhead. No markings along this narrow path with primitive campsites that are easily found and utilized. These trails lead to a labyrinth of hiking and camping treasure troves. #209 – Sipsey River Trail, popular, first come campers, (moderate to difficult, 6.7 miles) meanders towards #200, Borden Creek. Sipsey River Trail has a cabin up on the ridge, which can also be reached from trail Thompson Creek. Just past the #202 junction, heading east, is another popular camping area. One-half mile before the end of the trail will be Fall Creek Falls, another great waterfall. Worth exploring for the cliff overhangs and jutting rocks: From Gum Pond Trailhead, discover: #207 – Braziel Creek, 4.6 miles, #208 – Northwest, 7 miles, or #210 – Mitchell Ridge, 7.3 miles.

Heading south on #207, is a steep descent then flattens out before #203, Lookout, ideal for camping, is moderate to difficult but worth the exercise of up a bluff and down into the valley amongst beech and pine trees. Northwest and Mitchell Ridge cross Braziel Creek and offer a great campsite among the cedars. Trails can be obscure, being underutilized and from the fallen leaves from Magnolias and other trees. Corinth, 8 sites plus a few off the hiking trail between Firefly and Yellow Hammer Loop. Clear Creek offers sites near the lake and across from Bear loop, and Houston recreation with 88 and Brushy Lake offer 13 rustic campsites. Owl Creek, with 25 miles of trails, offers backcountry camping on first-come first serve basis. No hook ups or showers here.

Who is Going to Love It

Bankhead National Forest is ideal for day hikers, weekend getaways, team building exercises, and the serious hikers and backcountry campers. Whether you have one hour or several days to venture out, there are trails for the novice to the expert who can all revel in nature’s wonderland and the curious wildlife. Ascend to savor the scenic beauty of bluffs, rock formations, wildflowers, cascading waterfalls and descend to valleys for a makeshift camp under the stars.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Directions to Sipsey Wilderness Trailheads, from these access points: (

West Side: junction of AL Highway 195 and Winston County Road (WCR) 23.
This point would be mileage marker 33.6 on AL 195.
About 8.7 miles north of US 278 in Double Springs and also about 9 miles coming from Haleyville.

East Side: junction of AL Highway 33 and Lawrence County Road (LCR) 6.
This point would be mileage marker 12.6 on AL 33.
AL 33 is accessible from US 278 in Double Springs and AL 24 in Moulton.

Sipsey is the only trailhead in the Wilderness that imposes a day use fee ($3). But it is also the only one with a toilet facility other than the surrounding woods.

Clear Creek on Lewis Smith Lake, with 102 campsites and hookups, 5 bathhouses, a boat ramp, children’s play area, a 1.25 mile paved biking and walking trail and a 2.5 mile hiking trail; Raven. (Fees: $6-$50). Houston Recreation Area is currently closed, however the boat ramp is still accessible to Lake Lewis Smith. Corinth is a favorite for RV’s and campers, with 52 campsites, 8 tent sites, showers, picnic tables, and boat launches. Brushy Lake is a smaller rec area with 13 rustic campsites, picnic table, boat launch and trails.

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Bankhead National Forest

1070 Highway 33
Double Springs, AL, 35553
34.190833, -87.395461

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