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Featured National Recreation Trails

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Every kind of trail activity is represented in the listing of designated NRTs. Besides hiking and bicycling, the system includes water trails, motorized routes, snow tracks, greenways, and equestrian paths. The NRT program showcases the diversity of trails across America, from our cities and suburbs to the deserts, waterways, and high mountains.


Chief Ladiga National Recreation Trail, Jacksonville and Piedmont, Alabama

The Chief Ladiga Trail is Alabama’s first extended rails to trails project. The 9-mile section that runs through Jacksonville has a college-town and quaint Southern town atmosphere. The Piedmont Section runs 3.8 miles through Piedmont, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range.


Map of Alabama

photo of brick building by trail

The restored Railroad depot on the Jacksonville Section of the trail

The Chief Ladiga Trail was named for a Creek Indian leader who signed the Cusseta Treaty in 1832. Under the terms of that agreement, the Creeks gave up claim to their remaining lands in northeast Alabama. Because he had signed the treaty, Ladiga was allowed to select some land in Benton County for his wife and himself.

A year after the treaty, he sold part of his holdings for $2,000 to a group of speculators headed by Charles White Peters. That land later became Jacksonville. After selling the land, Ladiga and his wife moved to the Cherokee Nation and settled near what is now Piedmont. His cabin stood until about 1900, and he is buried in a grave near his homeplace.

Jacksonville, first called Drayton, was established in the early 1800’s on the site of Creek Indian Chief Ladiga’s trading post. In 1834 the town was renamed in honor of Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States. As first county seat of Calhoun County, Jacksonville remained the center of local government until 1899 when the county seat moved to Anniston.

photo of trail through trees by road

Along the Chief Ladiga Trail


Jacksonville Section

The Jacksonville Section of the Chief Ladiga Trail extends nine miles from Warren Drive (south) to intersection of the old CSX Railroad in Maxwellborn (north). The property was acquired by the City of Jacksonville from the Norfolk Southern Railway in 1996. The old train depot was recently restored and is now a support facility for city and trail-related events, as well as a rest stop for trail users.

The train depot was first opened on September 1, 1868, as a passenger and freight depot for the Selma, Rome and Dalton Railroad. Many attempts had been made to open the railroad during the War Between the States, but the war effort in the south severely limited the availability of iron for the rails. At the end of the war, the rail bed and bridges had been completed and as iron became available the rails were placed.

The newly constructed brick depot became a major stop for passengers and freight between New Orleans and the northern markets. Seen along the way are beautiful wetlands, streams, forests, farmlands, and a horizon filled with mountains. The Chief Ladiga Trail is a family oriented pathway that provides a safe, non-motorized way to travel, exercise and relax while enjoying the outdoors.

photo of old wood house

Eubanks Welcome Center along the Piedmont Section of the trail


Piedmont Section

Just north of the town of Piedmont the Piedmont Section of the Chief Ladiga Trail intersects with the Pinhoti Trail which is a spur of the longest walking path in America, the famous Appalachian Trail.

On September 27, 2008 the "Chief" was connected to Georgia's Silver Comet Trail completing what is now considered to be the longest paved pedestrian pathway in America. Together the trails are 95 miles long with plans for future extensions and spurs.

The area now known as Piedmont, Alabama is a community that began in the early 1840's, located at the crossroads of two early post roads. Tradition has it that a hollow stump was used by the mailman to deposit and pick up the mail. This point received the official name of "Hollow Stump."


Directions to Trail:

Jacksonville Section: From Montgomery, take State Hwy 21 north into Jacksonville. Turn left onto Greenleaf - go to end of road, turn right onto Alexandria Rd and go approx 1/2 mile and community center is on the left.

Piedmont Section: From Montgomery, take State Hwy 21 north into Piedmont. Turn right onto Dailey Street. After you cross over the Trail, turn left into the parking lot of the Eubanks Welcome Center.

For more information:

Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department
501 A. Alexandria Rd. SW, Jacksonville, AL 36265
Phone: (256) 435-8115


trail noteWe frequently add NRT information, photos and maps to these pages. Send suggestions and information requests to American Trails. Research additional NRTs in the NRT database. Trail managers can update online trail information in the NRT database. You may also e-mail information on minor changes or to update Featured NRT pages.



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