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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.


Wade Mountain Nature Preserve Trail System - Huntsville, AL

Map of Alabama

The system includes eight miles of trails for hiking, biking, or riding, with views to Tennessee on a clear day. The Wade Mountain Nature Preserve is one of three Land Trust of North Alabama Preserves that are each larger than Central Park and are all within Huntsville city limits. Designated as a National Recreation Trail in 2012.

photo of hikers on paved trail in forest

Hikers going from Dry Creek Greenway toward Land Trust trails



Land Trust of North Alabama's Wade Mountain Nature Preserve is currently 843 acres with eight miles of trails for hiking, biking, or horseback riding. Wade Mountain is currently the only Land Trust Preserve which allows equestrian trail riding. A Recreational Trails Program grant awarded in the late 1990s was used for trailhead construction.

The geology of Wade Mountain influences the area's microclimate which may be considered almost semi-arid. The land is steep and is composed primarily of highly eroded limestone capped by a layer of sandy soil (Hartselle Sandstone). Water drains the area quickly, leaving little for the plants. Therefore, the variety of plants is somewhat different from those typical of the area and most are smaller than normal. The white ash, cedar, hickory, and scrub glade supports unique species, including wild turkeys.

As in most karst topography, there are numerous small but unusual sinkholes and solution cavities. Six springs, four of them intermittent or wet weather springs, flow from the limestone cavities, and there are two waterfalls. Wade Mountain and its springs are the headwaters of Pinhook Creek, which feeds into Huntsville Spring Branch in the heart of Huntsville. Six caves are known on the Preserve.

photo of pool surrounded by trees

A spring on the nature preserve


The Preserve includes the Devil's Race Track, a significant geologic feature located on the eastern lobe and which has one of the best views of north Huntsville, with views to Tennessee on a clear day. This feature is a rock outcropping of Monteagle limestone, is level, and generally covered with grasses and wildflowers. The weathering of the underlying limestone releases numerous Mississippian fossils characteristic of a shallow reef environment. Folklore claims the Cherokee Indians raced horses atop the mountain.

The trail system was created by and is maintained by volunteers. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, located a few miles from the western Pulaski Pike trailhead, is but one of several corporations who encourage employees to volunteer time for Trail Care Crew workdays.

Both the city of Huntsville and the Land Trust own land that comprise the Preserve, with the Land Trust providing management and trail development/maintenance.

The Land Trust's Public Recreation Committee is responsible for identifying, prioritizing, planning, implementing, and maintaining all recreational development including trail development and trailheads on properties opened to the public.

hoto of big picnic shelter

Toyota Community Pavilion for Environmental Education

In addition, this committee works closely with the Volunteer Coordinator to recruit, develop, and nurture volunteers needed to support their efforts. This committee is also responsible for all mapping and GIS gathering efforts. The Land Trust staff representatives on the Public Recreation Committee are the Land Manager and the Land Steward.

On the western side, the city of Huntsville's Dry Creek Greenway off Pulaski Pike and Toyota's Community Pavilion for Environmental Education help the trailhead make a smooth connection between concrete greenway and the Preserve's natural trails. The trail system is also an integral part of the city's Pinhook Creek Section II Greenway.

The Land Trust offers environmental outreach programs. Seasonal hikes and events on the trails offer a gateway to use and direct enjoyment of Land Trust properties, increasing probability of self-initiated usage.

photo of volunteers with tools and fallen trees

2011 spring tornadoes brought down trees

Environmental education events on the trails help foster appreciation of nature and the need to preserve the places we love. This is vital in raising the next generation of land preservationists.

Other organized groups such as the Sierra Club, Wildflower Society, OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), classes from Alabama A&M University, University of Alabama in Huntsville, and homeschool and Scout groups are but a few who consistently use these trails that are open to the public. The Land Trust has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Huntsville Wildflower Society for their monitoring of the cedar glades atop the mountain.

The Wade Mountain Nature Preserve is one of three Land Trust Preserves that are each larger than Central Park and are all within Huntsville city limits. The Preserve's trail system allows for direct enjoyment and appreciation of this unique natural jewel.


For more information:

Land Trust of North Alabama
907 Franklin Street Huntsville, AL 35802
(256) 534-5263


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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