Explore the most popular lake trails in Alabama with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

First, let me say I did read the reviews below but I didn’t get from any of them the difficulty of this trail. It was not marked well at all. If I had not downloaded a trail ap we would still be on the trail. It was a very steep and narrow trail 75% of the way. It says moderate but that means if you are an advanced hiker with good hiking shoes. The trail had beautiful scenery but was also wet and slick with water dripping off larger rocks and at points you will be hanging right over the lake. Don’t get me wrong it will be great for anyone experienced in difficult trails. I would not suggest kids unless they have some experience as well. I will do it again but with the correct shoes and equipment. Thank goodness I had my walking stick. It came in very handy.

Maintenance is being conducted. Staff apologetic that a lot of undergrowth and trees were taken out leaving trails needing to be remarked. Caution tape around trees was redirecting me to tracks leading to nowhere. New mulch obscured the trail. Never got beyond the trail head for the 1 mile. Even had two of the locals scratching their heads. No dogs allowed.

Just a lot of fun. They've done a great job if incorporating a lot of hiking into a relatively small area. You could spend a lot of time loving it!

This is a really great extension of the Smith Mountain Fire Tower Trail which is a part of the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association system (CRATA.org). The trail begins by following the white blazed Fire Tower trail. We made the ascent to the old tower which once was the central tower in a 6 tower network of fire lookouts. We followed the white trail until we connected to the light blue blazed Lakeshore Trail. We followed this a few hundred yards until it connected to the Magenta Blazed Little Smith Mountain trail.
The initial leg of the trail is an easy descent through mixed forest. There are some nice rocky outcrops on early sections of this trail combination, and I expect that this will get pretty shady as the hardwoods take on leaves. The trail turns southeast as you hit the lake. At this point you can take a spur trail to Boat Docks and Island Hop trail (Island Hop will be really fun next winter when the water level goes back down and it becomes accessible again without a swim.)
The trip back up Little Smith Mountain is rocky and narrow. CRATA suggests that it is not for young or unruly children and I tend to agree with them.. While it's not as treacherous as the nearby Deadening trail, it is very narrow in places and the margin for error is small.
The climb back up is through areas that are pretty sparse due to wildfires from a few years ago (and maybe from the tornadoes too). It's a really good place to see Nature reasserting itself in new growth.
We had a fun run in with a nesting hawk. The hawk decided our chihuahua looked like a tasty springtime meal and swooped on him before realizing we were right behind. him. He continued to track us while we were on the mountain.Got some nice photos out of it though.
The return trip is pretty easy. A nice walk in the woods.
I'm looking forward to going back in a few weeks to see how it changes as the lake fills and the trees fill in.

Just finished hiking the 10.25 loop here today. The trails were very well marked but for longer distances you saw some of the same things. To call this a moderate hike is a bit much if you have done any hiking before. Still a gorgeous place to go and see the waterfall.

Well maintained trails. Recently did about 11 miles starting at the North Trailhead of the Tashka and finishing up on the Lakeside Trail. I've hiked Lurleen many times. The only trails I have yet to hike are the Ridge Loop and the Five Oaks Loop.

Great trail! Lots of variety in terrain type. Moderate hike with awesome views of the lake. Will definitely be doing again.

Be sure to review those written below. They were helpful. It is about 100 yards on paved road from end of initial trail to main trial. Look in left side of road for arrow marking. Initial part takes less time since fairly flat and through woods. Last 1/2 better views but very winding and more rugged. Loved views and outcropping rocks.

Did this section from North to South (actually started at FS500 Trailhead and worked my way through Duggar Wilderness to Burns Trailhead and then continued on). The Choccolocco shelter is in the SE corner of the man made lake, which for some reason is not shown on the map. I stayed there for the night and then continued on the next morning.

While lacking in dramatic cliff overlooks this section of trail is actually quite pretty. The Pinhoti trail along this section offers a broad range of forrest and vegetation as well as a prolonged parallel to a beautiful stream.

There is little cell service at the Coleman Trailhead so probably best to prearrange point to point pickup.

For more details, including a mile to mile reference guide, then please did see: http://www.pinhotitrailalliance.org

So I completed the Ridge Loop Trail which is a new trail off the Tashka Trail. It was well cleared and fairly level. Also had markers every 0.5 miles. I took my time and stopped for a break and finished the 4 mile loop in about 2 hours. Ridge Loop would be good for new hikers and those looking for a quick hike.

21 days ago

Great running trail! Be cautious that the bridge may be slippery. Walking the entire trail takes about an hr.

There are more routes to explore the trail. I uploaded the trail map photo.

My wife and I did this trail today and I definitely recommend it. There is a new parking area from what I understand the old one is roped off, but it is posted where the new is located just around the corner to the left. There is an approach trail through the wooded area that comes out on the paved road again before turning back into the woods to the left, just follow the arrows painted on the asphalt and it will lead you right to the kiosk where the actual trail begins. Trail is blazed in white. I large portion is along Lake Martin with some great views of Chimney Rock and other islands. I recommend taking plenty of water and snacks. The first mile is relatively easy, but the 2 plus miles along the lake I would rate difficult. Very steep in places even to the point of being on all fours lol. Keep your eyes peeled for deer and other wildlife we saw one of the biggest bucks I’ve ever seen! The trail itself is a loop hiked counterclockwise and then the approach trail and short paved road walk is done the same as when you entered! Hope this is helpful to all and enjoy yourself.

Great trail. Falls were a great site to see and hear. My fiancé and I hiked it with our dog. The Cheaha 50k happened to be racing through. It was fun cheering on the runners. Only mistake was that we wanted to start at Chinnabee Lake. It’s closed until March 1. Fun one though.

24 days ago

Backpacked in/out from 281 last weekend with my husband, 11-year-old daughter, and our dog. Great family hike -- not too rigorous with interesting geology, plant life, and water falls! The first section of the trail from 281 to Cheaha Falls is a bit busy with lots of folks just hiking in to the view the main falls, but traffic diminishes considerably after you cross the creek. We ended up with a sweet little camp spot down in the valley off the left-hand side of the trail in the area known as Devil's Den.

Great trail so far. We took our 8yr old and 3yr old boys. This trail actually offers 5 different trails; 1 mile, 2.5 miles, 4 miles, 7 miles, and 11.2 miles. Today we hiked the 2.5 mile trail. It was easy to follow, easy for the boys to hike, but still a fun challenge with ups and downs and loop arounds. We will be going back and hiking the 4 mile trail next.

needs more trail signs

1 month ago

Did this trail today. It did my disappoint!

Went today for the first time in a few years. It’s ok. I will go back. It has some bad areas that seem to have been caused by rainwater run off. If you don’t care for a lot of people you may not like this “trail” since it can be a bit crowded at times. The news was actually filming today. There are public restrooms which are clean. Lots of dog walkers on actual path. Most on leashes. I believe they ALL are supposed to be on leashes however, the ones who were not on leashes seemed well trained and very acclimated to people including, small children. I saw no dog nor, bird poop on pathways. Easy to find. Right off Valleydale by Jeff State and Spain Park High School. No evening/night lighting so, get your run in early if you can. Ranked accurately as easy.

1 month ago

Good walked by trail. They have added to it recently and the round trip is 1.5 miles. Far from a moderate trail this is a very easy walk.

Beautiful trail, very enjoyable hike. Please note - trail loop as shown on this app is NOT possible with high water. We had to back track, luckily found a bridge to cross, and then crossed again through the creek at a low and slow part, to return to the trailhead. The loop shown assumes you can cross where the falls meet the creek / river. Water too fast for that. Might save a couple new to the area hikers from a similar predicament, with daylight quickly running out. ;)

1 month ago

Dogs are NOT allowed on this trail. We were unable to hike here. Gulf Shores State Park is not far from this location and offers numerous dog friendly trails.

Very nice set of trails. All paved and boardwalks. My wife and I walked with our black lab and enjoyed it. It was very heavy traffic even for February so I imagine once tourist season gets in full swing there will be little solitude. Great park!

update - The Jeff Friend trail loop has been completed renuvated with a new level walking surface. They installed wooden foot bridges with composite decking material that border the water shoreline. just beautiful.

1 month ago

Great trail, good view of Lake Martin.

Great trail. Definitely worth the effort - and it requires some effort.
The FYI in case you've never been. The trail doesn't really begin at the parking area. There's a quarter mile path through the woods that brings you out on an adjoining street. Turn left and walk about 75 yards. Then you will enter the trail approach just across from the fire hydrant.

Trail is blazed to be completed in a counter clockwise loop, but I've done it twice in the other direction. As designed there's a long walk through pines and a descent to the lakeside at about a mile and a half. The return along the lakefront is strenuous. Lots of elevation change, switchbacks, and (if you tend to wander out to scenic points) a little bit of scrambling/boulering. The views across the lake are great, and if you go in summer you'll be able to see the brave folks who jump from Chimney Rock across the way.

The trail warns that those under 12 should not use it and under 14 should only use it under adult supervision, and I believe this is reasonable advice. The trail is narrow, often steep, and the margin for error and carelessness is small. There are definitely sections where serious injury is just a misplaced step away.

Had a great time hiking this trail! Beautiful water if you go down the rocks near the waterfall

Just walked the trail with all my backpacking gear in preparation for our upcoming AT hike (we just got new packs and wanted to show them off, mostly). It was a lovely walk with great views! Definitely suggest giving it a go, if you have the time!

very easy coming from rt281 to the falls only 1 mile in and out

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