Nestled along the banks of Lake Jordan in Wetumpka, Swayback Bridge Trail winds its hilly way through dense forest. You can choose from a short one mile loop to a more taxing seven mile track with occasional forays into fire road and power line sections. Much of it is a tight dirt trail, littered with rocks and roots, sometimes opening up to broader clearings.
Swayback Bridge Trail was created by Trail of Legends Association (TOLA), whose mission statement is to develop trails based on local historic lore and fact while preserving the beauty and resources of Alabama through promotion of its natural features. They certainly did a commendable job designing Swayback.
What Makes It Great
It has been described as a heap of spaghetti tossed down along the hilly shores of Lake Jordan, with hilly being the operative word. Going with the spaghetti metaphor, there are four “noodles” to select: a straightforward, no-frills one mile length of pasta; a 2.5 mile romp with some sauce in the form of hilly ascents and descents; a steeper four mile loop with a hint of meatballs consisting of a two mile hill; and finally a seven mile bowl with all the works and then some. This last trail includes sections lovingly named “The Zipper”, “The Elevator”, “Bastard Loop”, “6 Mile Hill”, “Little Zipper” and “Devil’s Driveway”. Views of Lake Jordan await you as you approach the northern edge. The different levels are marked in ascending order of difficulty and length from blue to green to yellow to red.
Do make sure to bring some form of hydration with you, especially in the harsh Alabama summer, and perhaps layered clothing if you plan on hiking in the winter. The great thing about Swayback is that the trails are shaded by the overhead foliage for much of its length. And unless you like to be eaten alive by bugs, especially during the hotter months, better bring your insect repellent of choice as well.
Who is Going to Love It
From the novice hiker to the more adventurous, Swayback Bridge Trail has a lot to offer, all in an idyllic forest setting adjacent to a lake. For the budding hiking enthusiast, there is even a short one mile loop dubbed the kiddie trail. There is certainly enough here to keep a more advanced hiker occupied. Only gripe is that we wish some of the trails were marked better as they do intertwine to some extent and can get confusing. More maps posted along the trails would be helpful too. If you live in Montgomery and are getting bored of trekking on flat pavement, head on up to the hills of Elmore County to this legendary trail.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Montgomery, go north to Wetumpka on US 231 N, turn left on Old Hwy 231, follow the brown sign towards Swayback Bridge Trail about 2.5 miles, then turn left towards Jordan Dam. Should you end up on the actual bridge, that means you passed the entrance. There is a parking lot on the left with a map of the trail. Be warned - there are no restrooms. TOLA admonishes against horses and motorized vehicles but does not specify that dogs are off limits.