Finding hidden trails in your ‘hood- Moncrief Blue Light Special

The joy of secret trails..

Tree of All Names. I’ve always loved this tree that you will find as the land evens out near the bottom.

When I was a kid we used to hike a “real” trail behind Moncrief park. Just like the one behind Luman Harris. Now I live in a house built by Luman Harris brother after WWII and I still hike these trails… but they are as forgotten as Mr. Harris brothers name… sorry sir.

But I like forgotten old things (not things in the fridge or under car seats like fries forgotten) but slightly decayed lonely places where you feel alone and free.

One of my top two favorite Alabama Rocks.

And this trail is one of those places. That said, I’d love for a boyscout troop to come in and clean it up.

Trillium and Trash greet you at every turn 😦 watch out for glass in the stream bed as well. A problem for paws!

Best time of year to go: after the leaves have all fallen up until right about the beginning of spring when the beautiful trillium and wildflowers of the forest are out. I saw so many gorgeous ones!

You will cross several bridges. 

Bring a picnic! But sit lightly. Not sure how many more years this ole gal has in her.

Once you get to the decrepit picnic table you run into a dilemma this time of year. It’s bushwhack down the creek from here. Go back in the winter and you’ll have an easier time of it.

Why we like this hike in the spring-the water is cool in the valley and there are lots of interesting birds, flowers, and critters to see and smell (whiskey went nuts trying to dig out animal holes. Sorry random holed up animals. Glad he didn’t eat you). The hike is short and easy unless the creek is high. And you have a nice shaded park to swing, walk about it after emerging from the woods.

When you get back to the top of the hike turn R and go further into the park instead of back to your car to find this cool, delightfully shaded hidden side of the park.

And plus, who knew there was so much bamboo here at this Gardendale park. History buffs will also enjoy the older Moncrief cemetery with entrance from the park road.

The tons of Bamboo plants growing amongst trees behind the pavilion/building make a nice backdrop for pictures. Whiskey politely poses.

How to find the woods entrance… Take 65 N from B’ham to the Mount Olive exit. Veer R at the end of the exit towards G’dale. Stay straight and go across hwy 31 onto Moncrief Road. You will see a smaller park and tennis courts on your L. Turn on the next road in the park that butts up against the old Moncrief Cemetery. Go down the road and park near the pavilion on your right. I got out and went behind the building (cemetery side) on my Right and followed the line of the woods until I was behind all the batting cages and saw the entrance going down. You’ll know you’re on the right trail if it keeps going to the bridge. There is one false trail behind the pavilion/house area right by the cemetery but the trail dead ends behind someones house about a few dozen feet in. Don’t take that one. walk past all the small fields until your near the batting cages and then dip down.

Happy hiking! And sorry I didn’t post this one earlier in the spring when we went. If you have a dog and want to go further I highly recommend waiting till the leaves fall and vegetation dies and snakes go away to go down into this valley. If you look at googlemaps for the park/road you’ll note that there is a large swath of forest that just goes on for miles and miles.

Beware the false trail. Keep walking.

This is what the beginning of the real trail looks like. Whiskey waits patiently to go down.

Theoretically you can spend a whole day hiking out around in this area. I know myself, my brother, and several others have kept this great off the map unregulated hiking area as a regular “go to hike” in our winters. But shhhh… let’s keep this one as secret as we can k 🙂

I’m gonna leave you with some of the pictures I can’t not share. This post is a picture extravaganza!

Can you believe Whiskey was willing to cross this bridge? I risked life and limb to get this picture (remember I have a husky strapped to me while hiking at ALL times). But he took his time and went across. I sweated dog sized bullets the whole time! Phew! I’d be happy if a boy scout group would repair this trail 🙂

Pretty view of a rock filled valley side stream.

Another view of the gap toothed bridge. Seriously tricky for a dog. Those were BIG Gaps in a Long Bridge.

“I know you’re in there!” says Whiskey. Sorry critter. It was very hard to get him out of there. He dug down to his shoulders!

Take some time to soak those paws.

Can’t help but wonder if there is a feral colony here or abandoned dogs? There’s a large number of wooded acres (miles) to support them. Anyone know? This sign is pretty suspicious and makes me think it is so. There used to be a feral cat colony here when I was a kid.

Rating: 6 out of 10 happy tail wags for off season hiking (winter-early spring only) with a few minus wags for trash, some scary bridges that you can easily bypass by walking through the creek, and bushwhacking (the last one can sometimes be a bonus!).

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One Response to Finding hidden trails in your ‘hood- Moncrief Blue Light Special

  1. Pingback: Alabama | Everything About Hiking

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