This trip will lead me on a 14-day tour of eastern Alabama, western Georgia and a slice of Tennessee.
Lots of hiking today, a short trail to a well-visited Kinlock Falls, a longer one to Caney Creek Falls where I had the falls to myself (and Joey). Then there was a Native American shelter, an ‘old’ plantation home and the home of a lonely mascot, Mister Lion. And at the end of the day I found a beautiful boondocking spot for the night.
Wolfpen Hunt Camp
When I woke up at the Wolfpen Hunt Camp, where I found another free site for boondocking, I knew it was going to be another busy day hiking and traveling through North West Alabama.
Fortunately, my first hike of the day started at the other side of the road. The Wolfpen trail follows a number of creeks with several waterfalls and returns to the main road, after a bit of off-trail hiking. It has a very thick canopy and a short while, I felt raindrops ‘falling on my head’. Not sure if a larger rain shower was on its way, I decided to return to the van.
Later that morning the little rain that fell, subsided and a visit to Kinlock Falls was on the list again. Located on a forest road with parking for a few cars on the side of the road, a short trail brings you to a wide waterfall with a large pool in front of it. Easy access must make this a popular spot throughout the year.
I spent an hour in the water with Joey on my side, and had a chance to meet several interesting people.
Not far away, a one mile trail led me to a rock shelter and Native American site, that has been in use for thousands of years. This site has also been frequented by settlers and in the early 1800s, a large tract was bought that included the shelter and a natural well and a mill site was developed.
The rock shelter lies in a pretty well protected area and consists of a large rock overhang and somewhat of a cave in the back. I found some more recent etchings on a rock, but the shelter is just an interesting place to hike to.
Caney Creek Falls
This is a 2.5 mile in/out trail to a large, wonderful waterfall in the Bankhead National Forest. Access is a bit tricky; there is no parking at the trailhead, but one of the neighbors has made available some parking space a few 100 feet to the west (donation requested).
The hike to the falls is partially forest and meadow and fairly level, with a short descent before the falls. The day in July, that I (and Joey) went, we spent a couple of hours without any other company.
The falls are wide and several dozen feet high and has a substantial water flow even in mid-summer, when I was there. You can walk behind the water curtain or have a swim in the pool in front of it. I was surprised no-one else was around.
Forks of Cypress Plantation Ruins
Besides the historical marker, there is a very minimal view of the remaining columns of the burned-down 1830 plantation home, since it is located on private property. Lightning struck the building in 1966 and fire took care of the rest.
The 1818 home was one of Alabama’s great houses, featuring perhaps the earliest peristyle colonnades in America. It was built by skilled African-American artisans in slavery.
Forks of Cypress Plantation Replica
To see how the Forks of Cypress plantation home actually looked like in its glory days, travel 5 miles to Florence, to see an exact replica. In 1983 this exact replica was built and currently houses a regional bank.
University of North Alabama Live Mascot
Nearby, a peculiar exhibit leaves me speechless. Since 1974, the University of North Alabama has been the only U.S. college whose mascots are live lions. Current mascots Leo III and his mate Una live in a public outdoor “habitat” on campus, with plenty of viewing areas (for the visitors, not for the lions).
It is already late when I arrive at my boondocking location. The Lentzville spot is next to a paved road and faces a large lake. I was just in time to watch a beautiful sunset over the water. The road is very lightly traveled.
- Wolfpen Hunt Camp ➜ 34.2834,-87.4377
- Kinlock Falls parking ➜ 34.3073,-87.5032
- Kinlock Shelter ➜ 34.3132,-87.5086
- Caney Creek Falls TH ➜ 34.2352,-87.4340
- Forks of Cypress Plantation Ruins ➜ 34.8459,-87.7259
- Forks of Cypress Replica ➜ 34.8032,-87.6762
- Live Lion(s) On College Campus ➜ 34.8074,-87.6783
- Lentzville Rd Campsite ➜ 34.8345, -87.1771