Crisp air. Your favorite flannel. Golden leaves rustling in the breeze. Craving a fall afternoon in the great outdoors yet? If you’re in north Alabama, you don’t have to go too far to find great trails, thanks to Land Trust of North Alabama, which manages nine natures preserves, including a relatively new preserve on the east side of Chapman Mountain.
Covering 371 acres, the Chapman Mountain Nature Preserve includes public trails for hiking, running, biking, and horseback riding. Located only 10 minutes from Huntsville, the preserve is is easily accessible for city residents or people visiting North Alabama. Currently, there are about three miles of trails, so this is an excellent area for a relaxing walk in the woods, a hike with the kids, or biking or trail running.
The nature preserve property has been owned by multiple generations of the Terry family, which partnered with the Land Trust to begin building the trail system. As trails are being constructed, Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Alabama and the Vulcan Materials Company are building a 2,120-square-foot pavilion that will include running water and bathrooms. (In the meantime, temporary facilities are available on-site). The Terry Education Pavilion will provide a space for environmental education classes, school events, and community gatherings.
To reach the preserve from Huntsville, travel east on Highway 72, cross Chapman Mountain, and take a U-turn at Moores Mill Road. Merge into the lane on the right, continue to the point where the guardrail ends, and then turn right to enter the preserve property. Drive through the gate and continue down a gravel road to the parking lot at the bottom of the hill. There is plenty of parking so don’t fret over bringing a big vehicle or horse trailer.
When you arrive in the parking lot you’ll be able to see a trail guide, which you can also download before your visit.
The Land Trust of Alabama rules vary by location, so it’s important to note the guidelines for Chapman Mountain before hitting the trails. At Chapman Mountain, the trails are open from dusk until dawn for hiking, biking, trail running, and horseback riding. Although there are plans to expand and add more trails, you must remain on the marked trails at all times. Plus, it’s important to stay within the preserve boundary lines. If you plan to bike, be aware that bicycles are not allowed 24 hours after rainfall.
Load up your furry friends because pets are allowed as long as they remain on a leash. Bringing your pet on a trail run or hike is a great alternative their usual outing around the neighborhood. Please carry out everything you bring into the preserve and be sure to follow Leave No Trace guidelines.
The Land Trust of North Alabama encourages visitors to send photos of any unique artifacts or wildlife seen on the preserve to their Instagram. Please do not remove any such items from the property.
A few things are not permitted in the preserve, including rock climbing, slacklining, or fires.
For the full list of trail rules and tips visit the Land Trust of Alabama website.
The Moonshine Trail gets its name from the moonshine still that was located on the property prior to the Terry family’s ownership. At 0.5 miles, this easy path follows a creek upstream, ultimately leading to a spring.
Named after the property owners, the Terry Trail is the longest trail on the preserve, measuring 1.1 miles.
Whole Planet Trail
Developed by volunteers from Whole Foods Market, the Whole Planet Trail is a moderate hike that links the Moonshine and Terry trails. The path and ascends 120 feet over a little less than a half-mile.
More Easy Walks
For a relaxing stroll, try the 0.2-mile Amphitheater Trail, which rises gradually and overlooks the Moonshine spring. There are also a couple of mellow loops, including the half-mile Chasco Trail and the 0.8-mile Driskel Trail.
Biking on these trails is relatively easy given the length of each path. However, you can loop them multiple times to cover the distance you desire. As the preserve continues to develop, there will be more technical trails added.
The Southern Off Roading Bicycling Association of Huntsville has received a grant from the International Mountain Bicycling Association to develop multi-use biking trails spanning 10 to 20 miles. The goal is to offer trails equipped for all seasons, various skill levels, and a trail loop designated specifically for those with a disability.
The Land Trust of North Alabama also plans to enhance the preserve with campgrounds, an 18-hole disc golf course, and additional hiking and horseback riding trails.
Want to Contribute?
If you’d like to volunteer for the Land Trust of North Alabama email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (256) 534-5263. Also, keep an eye on the events calendar, which includes trail care, group hikes, and sponsored events.
Written by Kylee Wofford for RootsRated Media in partnership with BCBS of AL.