Just a short drive from Hampton Cove, the Land Trust of North Alabama and the Nature Conservancy have partnered to protect the Keel Mountain Nature Preserve where you will find a hidden gem hiking trail known as the Lost Sinks.
A narrow shoulder-less country road leads you to a small gravel parking lot with room for about 10 vehicles where you will find its trailhead off of McMullen road. At only two miles long this single track trail is a relatively easy hike that can be tackled in just a few hours as an out and back or less if you turn around after you reach the trail's namesake--the Lost Sinks Waterfall.
About a mile up the trail is the Lost Sinks Waterfall which is easily one of the best waterfalls you will find in the local area. Fed from a stream above, the water cascades over the limestone rocks, down the "Sink", and out farther down the mountain. There is a small open area nearby with a faux wood plastic bench best used to contemplate things such as the location of lost Civil War gold rumored to be hidden somewhere on Keel Mountain as noted in our Mountains of Madison County Part Three article.
Aside from the waterfall, the trail has a couple of stream crossings, some natural shelves, and cool rock formations. About a quarter mile after the waterfall the trail gets much harder to follow as some trees have fallen across the path and need to be cleared. But if you look carefully you will see where it has been flagged and should be able to follow it. The trail also does not have a clear ending--the most appropriate word I can use to describe it is that it eventually dissipates at which point you turn around and head back.