National Trails Day- finding hidden short trails in your ‘hood.

Where where you on National Trails Day?

We were here:

Whiskey looks over the water. Don’t let him fool you. He didn’t care much about taking in the view. He only let me sit still for about 5 minutes lol!

I know what you’re thinking “wow! what a scenic picture” (thanks!) “but I don’t have time to drive way out to some state park and fumble about in the woods for hours on end” (oh yeah?)

Well good thing for you that you don’t have to huh! Because all over this nation there are what I call “Hidden Trails.” Lots of new subdivisions have them as a “perk” of living there (but they aren’t restricted to use by others unless it’s a gated living facility). I’m going to highlight three hidden trails in the Gardendale/Fultondale area over the next week or so that I bet you didn’t know about. And the great thing is I can name about 3 more that I just haven’t had time to get to and visit to blog for you!

How do you find these trails? Ask around, keep your eyes peeled for signs (Chapel Hills had signs on hwy 31 which is how I was tipped off…) but actually *years* ago I worked for a gas company and the guys who drove the trucks told me about the trails and showed me where it was… and I promptly forgot about it because I was in grad school and not hiking much.  So ask around, keep your eyes open, google the search terms “hiking” or “walking trails” with your neighborhood and county’s name, and don’t forget about visiting your town’s website or calling city hall and asking. But my point is, that I doubt many of you live farther than a five mile drive from a short hiking trail. But because they start out of neighborhoods or the backs of ball parks you’ve missed seeing them.

So without further ado let’s go onto today’s hidden trail.

Chapel Hills Walking Trail

Whiskey made sure to check all the bushes for dangerous critters so my walk would be safe all the way down to the water. Thanks man.

Location: Fultondale Alabama

Directions: located off of the road Chapel Hills Parkway. Specifically at the corner of Chapel Hills Pkwy and Chapel Hills Cove which for some reason didn’t show up on Google Maps. But here is a google map:

Where that marker is on the map isn’t where the trails are. It’s just to highlight the road you should be on. Couldn’t figure out how to move it! Sorries!

So when you come off of 65 onto 31 you take that first road on your L before the Chevron and follow it up to Chapel Hills Pkwy. You stay on it as it winds around and down where the woods is on your right hand side. Then you’ll see this BIG sign. Can’t miss it:

walking trail sign b/w two houses and large gravel path down to trail

I pulled off of the side of the road in front of the sign as there is no official parking area.

Time/length of trail:Not very long trail. Took us about 35 minutes including stops to eat black berries, admire flowers, climb on rocks, look at the water, etc.

pretty wild flowers

pretty flowers

Overall we really liked this trail and would go back. There were lots of blackberries (I couldn’t convince Whiskey they were edible but they were the sweetest I’ve ever had). There were also tons of wild flowers and cool plants. The path is wide and easy as it slopes downward to a wider creek under a trellis.

Whiskey meandered about under the train trellis on smooth rocks and glass worn smooth by the water… there was some trash 😦 like razor blades! (boohiss) so do be careful and always check your dogs paws when you get home.

Side view of the beautiful stone structures (reinforced on the outside by steel?) I wonder how old the stonework is…

I kept trying to figure out if it was a train or road. I’d given up and walked back when I heard a familiar sound. So familiar it didn’t register then I began running back like crazy to the bridge so I could watch the train pass over head. Whiskey thought I was insane. Really. I can tell you he did not understand the panicked reversed running and awe struck watching of the train roaring by above us. I hadn’t realized I missed the trains until that moment. We moved several months ago from Irondale, home of the famous “Whistle Stop Cafe” setting for Fannie Flaggs book by the same name and movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” in case you’re more familiar with that version. I’d not realized I missed the daily grind and whir of wheels, but I had. So we watched the train and then made our solemn way back. All in all a good short hike with a pretty view at the end.

yay! Trains! We ran back to watch the train rumble overhead.

Rating: 5 wags out of 10.Good length, good width, lots of sniffing for the dog to do, but the house at the beginning of the trail had dogs that barked like mad- making me feel very self conscious like I was waking the neighborhood to go walk, and open razor blades on the rocks at the water at the end had me worried about what my dog my step on, costing them half the wags…

Side view to the L of water


National Trails Day spearheaded by the American Hiking Society If you missed out on this years day, then check it out next year as they list events put on by people. There was a hike at Red Mountain Park today for instance, where they gave away free zipline passes. How cool is that?

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