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n2o2diver
2006-10-02, 01:20
I drove down to the Conecuh National Forest about three weeks ago to do some fishing, I have been learning to fly fish. Well after a few hours of snagging everything with the line except a fish, I decided to see what else the area had to offer. I had my mountain bike with me so I set off riding some of the dirt roads for a few hours, however I didn't have a map and was afraid of getting lost. I saw all the markings for the hiking trail and thought it would be a nice change to go for a hike instead of a bike ride.

I returned the following weekend and managed to get a trail map from a local store. I arrived late in the afternoon so I did some fishing and car camping at the "Open Pond Recreation Area". Which was very nice little area with showers and firerings. The next morning I set out on the "South Loop" to see the "Blue Spring" and back to the car. It was very nice trail and easy for a beginner. I saw a few deer and turkey from a distance. It was only about 6 miles but I was hooked. I had to come back.

I returned the following weekend and again parked at the "Open Pond Area" this time I set off to do the "North Loop". The Map I had said it was 20 miles of trail and I figured I had done 6mi so I had about 14mi left. I think the guide is a bit off because I think I hiked around 26mi for the north loop and back. I could have been a bit more or less I'm not sure because my GPS batteries died.

I set off from the Open Pond Camping area "A" and followed the west loop around the lake shore past buck and ditch pond then headed north on the connector to the "Blue Pond Area" where I filled up on water and continued on to Nellie Pond where I set up camp for the night. It was about 10mi at this point. And I had just started on the north loop, so I knew I was in for more than I had planned.

The next morning I set off at sun up and was only a mile down the trail when I came up on a doe eating. I don't know how I spotted her in the little valley off the side of the trail only about 50 ft away. It must have been that white tail wagging because thats what I remember very clearly. She turned her whole head and neck 180 degrees and looked right at me but must not have seen me or just didnt care because she kept on eating and I watched her for about 20 minutes as she slowly moved on.

I was just about done with the North Loop and back onto the connector south bound when the sky opened up. I tried like heck to set my tarp up but the trail was too narrow. I managed to stay relatively dry with my poncho, however the trail soon became a little river and my feet got soaked. I made my way south to the Blue Pond area and dryed out for a while, changed socks and watched some people swimming. After about an hour I started on my way back to the car and came upon a rattle snake sunning himself in the middle of the trail. He was about 4 foot long and as thick as my wrist, yuk! I don't do snakes very well. I had almost made it back to the Open Pond area when it started raining again. This time it was very light and was a bit refreshing as I was about done.

Overall the trail was well maintained and easy to follow. There were some blowdowns but easy enough to go around. The foot bridges over the swampy areas are very slick so watch your footing. I never saw anyone else on the trails the two weekends I was there. There were people swimming in the blue spring but they got there as I was leaving. Some of the grass on the south loop trail was quite tall and kept my feet wet from the morning dew. The trail is covered in spider webs. I'm new to Alabama so I dont know what kind they are but they are big. As long as there was sun on the trail you could see them but many times I walked face first into them. I thought it was a great beginners trail and there are no hills to speak of. I will hike it again and shake down some gear before moving on to the Pinhoti.
I found quite a bit of info about this trail here
http://www.alabamatrail.org/hikingAL/
albiet after I hiked it.

I am new to backpacking and this was my first overnight hike since I was in Boyscouts as a kid. Other than forced marches I did while in the Marines for 12 yrs. I have found I really enjoy being out an about by myself in the woods and I see so much more walking than I did mountain biking.

This site has been an invaluable resource as I don't yet have much in the way of gear and will head much of the advise I have gotten here.

Thanks
Mac

Take-a-knee
2006-10-02, 22:44
Welcome to the site. My old guard unit is in Auburn AL, we used to train in the Tuskegee NF, you should check out the Bartram Trail there. You can bike it or walk it. The hills are big enough to be a challenge on a bike but they aren't bad on foot. Since you like to fish you should consider getting a sit-on-top kayak, your flyrod won't stay hung up that way, and you can get into some skinny water with that thing.

bird dog
2006-10-02, 23:03
n2o2diver - Welcome to the site. You can learn alot from Rock and the others on the site. Check out the $300 dollar challenge link on the site and you can get some great ideas for gear at a reasonable price. BD

SGT Rock
2006-10-03, 11:49
Welcome to the site and thanks for the trip report. I've been wanting to hit that trail for a while.