Hikes

Hiking Bethel Springs Nature Preserve

The largest waterfall in Madison County lies nestled on a 360-acre property on Keel Mountain. The Bethel Spring Nature Preserve is a beautiful hike located in New Hope, Alabama, offering hikers 1.8 total miles of free trails to explore.

The preserve has two trails hikers can choose from. The first one, Bethel Creek Loop, is at the start of the preserve. The trail is a 0.3-mile simple loop. The trail starts off on a small bridge. Hikers proceed to pass through farmland, Bethel Creek and a valley view looking up at Keel Mountain.

The next trail is one of my family’s favorite trails and is actually three trails combined to make one big loop. Carpenter Trail (0.4 miles), Falling Sink Trail (0.5 miles), and Mill Trail (0.4 miles) create a 1.3-mile loop hike that winds up and down the side of Keel Mountain, leading to one of the most beautiful waterfalls.

The trail is moderate. The hike is difficult due to an increase in elevation of 400 feet. My six-year-old was able to handle most of the way by himself, but with smaller children, it may be more difficult. We were all tired after the hike, but it is extremely worth it. Make sure to watch out for slippery rocks, especially close to the waterfall. The trails are extremely well-marked and easy to follow. The adventure brings you through wooded areas, creeks, springhouses, and over rocks.

The waterfall is actually made up of three waterfalls side by side. The water comes down to your level and then disappears into the hillside, flowing away underground into Paul’s Cave. The cave is listed on the Alabama Cave Survey to be 1,338 feet in length and 334 feet deep. At this time, due to safety concerns and protecting the ecosystem, the cave is not open to the public without a permit.

The best time to go is a day or so after it rains a lot. The waterfall is fuller, and you can catch some amazing photos and maybe even spot a rainbow in the waterfall.

Thing’s to Know:

Location: 2641 Cherry Tree Road, Gurley, AL 35748

Parking: Parking is right in front of the trails. It is easy to find and plenty of space.

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Map: A map of the trails is accessible from Land Trust of North Alabama.

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