The Eastern Lake Trail is located in Santa Rosa Beach Florida. It is a 6.0 mile trail that has both longer and shorter options. The trail was completely flat and lacking in scenery.
What today’s hike lacked in scenery, it made up with milestones. First, as my 27th hike, I’m on the second half of my 52hikechallenge. More importantly to myself, today’s miles put me over the 100 mile mark.
The ecosystem here is completely different than Alabama. The pine forest floor was covered in palms and yuccas. The water was so full of tannins that it flowed red. There were also a few blasts of color along the trail.
More than half of this trail was on sandy dirt roads instead of actual trail. I’m glad I made the hike but would come back. I’m slowly learning that you need to go North for truly spectacular hikes, at least for my preferences.
This week’s hike is both unusual and special to my family. The 2016 March for Babies takes place each year in the Opelika Municipal Park and surrounding neighborhoods. In fact, the walk is in the neighborhood where I grew up making it oddly familiar. We walked 4 miles in memory of our lost daughter, Olivia and in celebration of our healthy daughter, Megan.
The park was full of music and cheerleaders today as the walkers gathered. Each family has their own reason to attend each year. The stories are very touching.
My main reason to blog today is to thank everyone that took the time to donate to our cause. We love and appreciate you all. We sold 4,560 candy bars, 1,000 Chic-Fil-A biscuits, 200 tee shirts along with countless donations. With your generosity, we raised $16,800 for the March of Dimes. This is a team record. I also understand that it is a regional record as well. We are thrilled and can’t thank you enough for your support. We’ll be back next year!
Today’s hike was a 5.4 mile and 53 flight return to the Talladega National Forest on the Chinnabee Silent Trail. The trail was named after Chief Chinnabee of the Upper Creeks. It is said that he is buried at the base of Mt. Cheaha. I have not been able to determine if this is fact or legend, but it seems reasonable for a chief. The trail was built by a Boy Scout troop from the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, hence “Silent Trail”.
I found the trail today to be anything but silent. Many hikers were out taking advantage our our wonderful weather. I was rarely out of site from another group along the trail. I missed the solitude of being alone, but enjoyed seeing so many outside today.
This trail begins at the Chinnabee Lake Recreation Area. The first mile is flat to gently rolling along Cheaha Creek called the Devil’s Den. You take a short boardwalk high above the creek which has great views of the rapids below. The hike continues to be flat as you return and follow the creek.
The remainder of the trail diverts from the creek and goes up and down several peaks and valleys. I found the ecology here to be interesting. One valley would be covered in newly sprouting Oak Leaf Hydrangeas while the next would have ferns. Each valley seemed to have a slightly different look.
Around the 2.5 mile point, you will find the Cheaha Falls Shelter designed for overnight stays. It is only a short walk further to this hike’s focal point – Cheaha Falls. From here you can return to the parking area or cross the creek and continue. It will be my turnaround point for today.
I found this trail to be slightly more interesting than the Nubbin Trail which is in the same general area. This trail had more continuous views. It did come with 53 flights of elevation, not too bad with a day pack but would have been challenging with a full pack.
My next hike will be the 2016 March for Babies next weekend. We have not counted everything yet, but should be close to our $15,000 goal. I am touched by your support!
Sunday brought perfect weather and a great opportunity to get in one more hike before returning home. We had several choices from “Hiking Alabama”. We decided to go with the one that truly represents The Birmingham area, the Tannehill Ironworks just West of Birmingham.
The site has a grouping of three large furnaces that were built with slave labor to produce iron for the Confederacy. The furnaces and Slaves quarters were destroyed by the Eighth Iowa Cavalry towards the end of the Civil War. The site was rebuilt in the 1970’s.
The trails here passed the furnace and slave quarters before turning into the forest for a 5.0 mile hike. This trail had one steep rise at the start but used the land very efficiently to get you up and around the hill peaks. The trail was covered in red stones showing the iron ore in the area.
The park also had a nice albeit small museum about the history of iron. The also had a general store, a sweet shop, and various craft shops to browse.
Time to get home and ready for another week.
We decided to take this week as an opportunity to get in several hikes that were close together and not too far from home. Since my inside girls were along for the hike, we camped at Embassy Suites in Birmingham. Today brings three trails in Oak Mountain State Park.
The first, Maggie’s Glen, is a nice loop along a stream to a nice clearing. The clearing was full of hikers, in their Enos, having a picnic or otherwise enjoying nature. Half of this trail was flat and easy and half fairly steep. All of it was beautiful. We hiked 2.3 miles here. This would be a great starter hike.
The Treetop Trail is a short 1.1 mile trail that starts at the Alabama Wildlife Rehab Center and follows a seasonal stream through the forest. This trail would also be a great starter trail. You can also view certain raptors here that have been injured and are unable to return to the wild. While most of the cages seemed empty, we did see five red tailed hawks. It’s probably a good thing that the cages were empty.
The final trail was the most spectacular. The Peavine Falls Loop is the trail to Oak Mountain State Park’s signature feature, a large, cascading waterfall. There are two routes here. The first was a trip to the upper falls. The second was to the lower falls. The lower fall trail had caution signs so we picked the upper falls route. We hiked an additional 2.0 miles on this loop.
All together, we hiked 5.4 miles today through some very nice forests. Oak Mountain will stay on the list for a return trip. They also had some much longer trails that would be nice to try. They had horse boarding, a nice lake, an archery range and some athletic fields. The park was filled with locals enjoying the nice weather.
Our side trip today was to drop off sixteen huge bags of pop tabs at the Ronald McDonald house. The tabs were mostly collected by families at Trinity Presbyterian School, where Lucy teaches. Other tabs came from the Opelika Fire Department and East Alabama Medical Center.
Dinner tonight brought something truly special. We decided to try a pizza place that was new to us. Slice was located just East of downtown Birmingham on 29th Street. They were crazy busy, always a good sign. I truly thought I had found the best pizza in the state at a Montgomery restaurant but Slice was far better. My pizza had house made Italian Sausage and homemade Mozzarella. Lucy had something more adventurous with flank steak and horseradish sauce. Desert was a s’mores calzone that was very inventive. I was also impressed that all beers on tap were produced in Alabama. You really should give Slice a try when in Birmingham.