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by Joe Cuhaj (Falcon Guides)
© Joe Cuhaj/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
We did not use the trail as described in the trail guide. We hiked down to the falls from the north. The southbound trail 204 provides access to the north end of Bee Branch. The trails were in somewhat poor condition due to a recent wind storm that left several downed trees across trails. Severe drought in Alabama had us worried that water would be scarce, but rain overnight and during the day on 12/27 and 12/28 had the Bee Branch (and the waterfalls) running. Borden Creek and Braziel Creek both had good water as well.
Our trek involved hiking north on trail 207, west on 208, south on 204, and east on 224. 207 is very scenic, but difficult to follow. The eastern portion of 208 is nice, and is an easy east to west hike. The western portion of 208 and all of 224 are very boring, and should be avoided unless they are simply being used to reach more scenic areas of the Sipsey Wilderness.
The west Bee Branch portion of this trail is a real bushwack. My backpacking buddy and I tried to find some evidence of a real trail from just past the fork to east Bee Branch all the way to the falls at the end of the west Bee Branch. No Luck! Although the scenery is beautiful and you are virtually guaranteed to be alone in the canyon at the falls, you will have to make an extra effort to get there and back compared to what is required on the balance of the trail system. Best we could tell, we were the only two people to have ventured into the area for sometime. Leave No Trace, Dusty
There are several limbs of this trail system. We hiked the 11.5 mi. loop from the Sipsey R. Picnic ground, up the Brushy creek trail, up the Bunyan hill road, down 204/204A, down 204A to 209 and along the river back to the bridge. A long day: 9 hrs with rest stops.
There was no problems with the trail to the Bunyan Hill Rd. The Bunyan hill road is very overgrown and there were recently downed trees that had not been cleared. The upper part of 204 and 204A were OK. Below the Bee Branch falls back to the Sipsey R., it was a difficult scramble as there were numerous freshly downed trees which had not been cleared. This was also true of the long section paralleling the river itself.
These trails are not very well marked, and one can get easily lost if not already familiar with the terrain. With the recent storms, the tree obstructions across the trails have increased. Better trail maintenance and repair would be helpful.
WH Holley MD
Most hikers don't realize how diverse the terrain is in Alabama. This trail will give you a good taste of what the Sipsey Wilderness has to offer. Thick forests, waterfalls, canyons, and bluffs can be found along this trial. There is ample water found on the trail so bring along a water filter if necessary. It is best to explore this trail and the surrounding area by making this an overnight trip. Winter season is best to see the high bluffs and waterfalls. Summer can be hot in Alabama so plan accordingly. I would rate this hike as "moderate" because of the downed trees and brush along the trail, otherwise the trail is easy to traverse. Enjoy the hike!
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