View Full Version : Trip report - day hike in the Sipsey

SGT Rock
2003-03-10, 11:13
Saturday I was forced (thankfully) to go hiking by my wife and mother. A nice diversion from days spent in a waiting room at Huntsville Hospital CCU. I headed to Wal-Mart and stocked up for a day hike. This, plus a sale at Wiley Outdoors in Decatur gave me some gear I needed for a good hike. More on this later I plan to post in another thread.

I headed into the wilderness on Alabama 33 then hung a right on FS213. I followed FS213 until FS223 where I took a left and followed it all the way to the gate and trail head. There was a sign with all the rules and a place to pay a $3 fee because apparently Sipsey has become one of those Fee Demo areas. There weren't any envelopes and I'm opposed to the plan, so no fee today.

Followed the old FS223 to FS208, then to FS204 without seeing a soul. It was a warm fall day, and it was a mostly dry level trail that was easy to make time on. I figured the mileage for this section to be about 2.8 miles or so, but didn't try to get a hard figure on that. I wished there could have been more green out, but mostly what it was was dead winter like wilderness with lots of dead pines. Apparently there has been a beetle problem in the area.

At FST204, a small unatended camp was there which I passed as I headed to the falls on the Bee Branch, about 1/4 mile down that trail I passed a man and woman that I assume were the campers, but I could be wrong. About 1/2 mile down that trail, the trail dropped into a cove that was very green and lush. I found myself at the top off the East Bee Branch Falls which is about a 90' drop. Above the falls is a nice rock pool where I decided to make a late lunch of spicey Ramen with Tobasco and whole wheat tortillas with Nutella and jelly.

While I sat up there, I studied the map. HOI and Bama 4x4 told me the coordinates a while back of where to find that large poplar tree that is supposed to be in that area. As I was orienting my map and trying to figure about where the tree should be, I realized I was looking right at it from where I sat. I can't belive how obvious it was. As I was sitting at the top, I finally started seeing a few more people out for the day. There was a solo hiker that climbed up from the bottom of the cove, then a group of about 6 guys climbed up the side to the top. I saw a couple of solo hikers stay at the bottom then leave out back down the alternate FST204. I guess that trail is more interesting than the way I came in.

So after lunch I climbed down the unofficial connector trail and walked down the beutiful cove about 1/4 mile. I took some time to check out the tree - it isn't as big as the John Wasklisk memorial tree, but it is much better shape and has a lot of room to grow if no one gets stupid with it. I really liked the trail near the creek and decided if I ever come back to this section to try coming in from the south along the river and up the creek. There are some camp sites along the creek, and one hiker had already staked out his spot this early in the afternoon. It made me wish I hade more time and gear for a longer stay.

To make sure I maded it out before dark, I had to turn around and hike out the way I came. It was pretty solitary for the most part except that the tent at the junction of FST204 and FS224 was occupied by a hiker building his fire. Man I needed more time to stay out like he was.

2003-03-11, 00:59
hehe, i know what you mean about that tree. almost ran my nose into it before i knew it was there.

Uncle Wayne
2003-03-11, 03:15
Originally posted by SGT Rock
There was a sign with all the rules and a place to pay a $3 fee because apparently Sipsey has become one of those Fee Demo areas. There weren't any envelopes and I'm opposed to the plan, so no fee today.

The fee started 5 or 6 years ago but has been discontinued at all of the wilderness trailheads except for the Sipsey River Recreation area. The recreation area has a canoe put in area, picnic tables, toliets and garbage cans for the public to use. The original reason for the fee, as stated by the Forest Service in the local paper, was to provide funds for new maps of the area. When it was imposed I doubted it would ever be rescinded but it has been at all but one trailhead in the wilderness. Whether the Forest Service used the funds to print the new maps I don't know but we have new maps now and the fee was discontinued. It started out at $1 per person, then changed to $3 per vehicle per day or portion thereof. I barely avoided a ticket on one over nighter because I just paid $1. I parked late afternoon, paid my $1 fee, hiked in a few miles, camped, and hiked out before noon the next day. I was there less than 20 hours. It just so happened the ranger was at the trailhead checking permits when I hiked out. He asked to see mine, checked the envelope deposit to make sure I had deposited the money in the first place and said I still owed a dollar because I had been in the wilderness two days. I pointed out my arrival and planned departure time on the envelope and he replied the fee was "a $1 per day or portion thereof" not a 24 hour period. So he gave me two options: pay the other $1 or a $50 fine. I'm not very good at math but I knew which option was the better deal.

You can buy a year pass for $15 at the Ranger station in Double Springs.