We are in north Alabama at a Thousand Trails park called Hidden Cove RV Resort. As Thousand Trails members, we can stay at no charge. We try to stay in Thousand Trails parks whenever practical and this was the perfect time to stop for a few days on our way to other places. We didn’t expect there would be much to do in this remote area of the state, but boy, were we surprised.
Hidden Cove RV Resort is located on one of the biggest and best recreational lakes in north Alabama. Lewis Smith Lake is a 21,000 acre reservoir with over 500 miles of shoreline. Many campers in the park bring boats, paddle boards or kayaks to launch at the resort’s private boat ramp. There’s a deck on the water for fishing or to just sit and relax while enjoying the lakeside view. There is also a new clubhouse and swimming pool. The pool was not open when we were there, but workers were busy with the pressure washer and scrub brushes getting it ready for the season.
A new loop road was recently added expanding the number of RV sites. This new loop, Loop C, is where we found our site. There are not many trees in Loop C, and for that matter, not much greenery separating the sites at all. The full hookup sites come with 50 amp service. The newly built restrooms and showers were cleaned daily and a laundry facility is provided in the same building. Our Verizon signal was weak with only one bar of service and we often dropped our calls. WIFI is available in the resort for an additional fee. As with all Thousand Trails we’ve encountered, there are long term campers that seem to always have the prime spots, especially along the water. We found an end site next to one of the only trees, but it was not near the water. Still we were happy.
Soon after we arrived and got our camper set up, Grammi and I took a walk around the park. We stopped and talked with a full-time couple who had been in the park for nearly three weeks. They gave us some tips and recommendations to do while we were in the area. We were excited about one of those recommendations and set out to explore it the next morning.
The hike to Sougahoagdee Falls in the Bankhead National Forrest was fabulous. We drove twenty-four miles from our campsite, the final two miles or so over an unpaved forrest road named Hickory Grove Road. Next to a bridge was a small parking area with space for three or four vehicles. There is room to park along the forrest road if the parking area is full. The trailhead starts at the parking area and follows along the bank of Brushy Creek.
The hike is four and a half miles out and back on an unmaintained trail. Many fallen trees across the trail required us to either limbo under or climb over to proceed. At times, the terrain was steep and we were glad we brought our hiking poles to help steady our climb. Graceful skill was necessary to tread over the well placed stones at six different creek crossing. I’m sure the recent rain made this more precarious than usual. It certainly made the trail muddy in many spots. However, with the recent rain came an increase water flow at the falls, making this a great time to see them. We saw a total of seven waterfalls along the trail. Be sure to continue on the trail until you get to the end. We learned some people turn back before getting to Sougahoagdee Falls, not realizing the trail continues past the other falls. You don’t want to miss the most spectacular one.
Following the path along a tributary to Brushy Creak, as we neared Sougahoagdee Falls, we began to hear a rumbling between the bluffs. I am not certain if it was from the excitement or from the cool breeze coming from the falling water, but chill bumps arose as it came into sight. Water splashing over the rocks created an enticing emerald green pool below the falls. A foot trail leading behind the falls gave an unparalleled perspective. We were all alone in this shaded utopian paradise and felt a sense of awe. We found a suitable place to sit and spread out our lunch. Certainly we took a lunch spot photo.
This was a memorable adventure. We took our time, stopping at all of the waterfalls. We sat a while and had lunch. We were on the trail nearly four hours. We were tired afterward but the hike was well worth the effort and we recommend it highly.
Another adventure, one we recommend, is a visit to Clarkson Covered Bridge Park followed by a stop at Crooked Creek Civil War Museum and Park. Clarkson Covered Bridge crosses over Crooked Creek and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally built in 1904, its weathered timbers and natural stone piers stand as a relic from a bygone era. The mill house located in the park enhances the rustic feel to this county park.
A quick four minute drive from the covered bridge to Crooked Creek Civil War Museum and Park is were we met Fred Wise, proprietor of the museum and an interesting and loquacious gentleman. A culmination from a lifetime collecting Civil War memorabilia and the unknowingly serendipitous purchase of land on the site of a Civil War battle field forty year ago, lead to his establishment of this museum. A battle between Union forces commanded by Colonel Abel Streight and the Confederate forces of Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest, is where much of the artifacts were found on this property. Mr. Wise’s private collection of artifacts are housed in a nineteenth century stagecoach inn, that he bought and reassembled on his property.
Mr. Wise provided us with a personal tour describing items as we went along. He encouraged us to pick up and hold many of the artifact. I learned just how heavy a cannon ball felt and held a Civil War Tiffany sword in my hand. I looked down the barrel sights of a rifle once held by a union soldier. We received a history lesson about the successive designs of the flags of the Confederate States.
It was an informative afternoon and we enjoyed the tour very much. The admission cost to visit the museum is a meager $5.00 per person. There are a variety of items for purchase, such as hats, t-shirts, flags, books and so forth. Mr. Wise is not shy pointing out what’s for sale, saying that he has to pay the light bill. I purchased a book by Robert L. Willett titled The Lightning Mule Brigade—Abel Streight’s 1863 Raid into Alabama. I am looking forward to reading the history of the battle that transpired here at Cross Creek.
Another day…another excursion. This adventure took us first to The Jail At Houston, a jailhouse built from logs just after the end of the Civil War. Most interesting was the nails hammered into the logs to deter attempts to saw through the timbers.
Next we went to Natural Bridge Park near, you guessed it, Natural Bridge, Alabama. For a $3.50 admission, we walked a winding trail to a 148-foot sandstone bridge. Said to be the longest natural bridge east of the Rockies, this impressive arch is the center piece of a park that includes a souvenir gift shop, picnic area, one-mile hiking trail, crystal clear stream and some interesting rock formations. It’s a great place to spend a couple of hours.
There was more to see in north Alabama than we expected. We shouldn’t be surprised though. It seems that no matter where we find ourselves, we find interesting things to see and adventurous things to do. Tomorrow we move to another spot on our journey. I’m not sure what we will find but I bet it will be a new adventure.
So until next time…happy days and safe travels.