Moss Rock Preserve Orange Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"Leaving from the Sulphur Springs lot, this hike descends the slopes of Shades Mountain, picking up Hurricane Branch near its origins and following it into the center of Moss Rock Preserve at the Boulder Field. It then skirts the sandstone glade and climbs a spur of the Blue Trail up along a watercourse that has numerous waterfalls in wet weather. Connecting with the main Blue Trail, it winds through forest, past more remote rock formations, and makes its way back to the Sulphur Springs parking lot. Along the course of the hike, you hit the scenic highlights of the southwestern end of the preserve while enjoying more solitude than you’ll find on the more heavily traveled routes in the park."
--Thomas Spencer, Five-Star Trails: Birmingham (Menasha Ridge Press).
"The Shades Mountain Boulder Field at Moss Rock Preserve draws climbers from around the Southeast. From the trailhead off Preserve Parkway, it’s a very short walk to see the weather-worn boulders, some 10–20 feet high, where boulderers climb challenging routes or “problems” across the face of the rock. At the base of the Boulder Field, Hurricane Branch carves its own path through rock formations, forming waterfalls along the way. Across the creek, you’ll find a sandstone expanse with hardy but fragile plant communities specially adapted to the tough terrain. A well-marked nature trail along the creek offers options for further exploration."
"This loop starts with convenient parking at Simmons Middle School and follows Hurricane Branch upstream as it tumbles out the narrow valley between Pine Mountain and Shades Mountain. In wet weather, it offers multiple waterfalls as the stream winds through sandstone boulders. The climax comes at High Falls, a serious multistage waterfall. From there, a spur trail makes a steep uphill scramble to the Top of the World Boulders, which afford an expansive view of the valley. The return portion of the loop crosses the stream and climbs the Shades Mountain ridge a bit before descending to wind through the Rock House Boulders, a natural playground in sandstone with cave-like openings that invite hiding, climbing, and exploring."
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