Tired of reading all the latest horrifying world events? There’s a place in Huntsville that will take you back in time when life was simpler (let’s face it—we mean before the Internet). The 72-acre Madison County Nature Trail, located on Green Mountain, offers a glimpse of pioneer life minus all the hard work, death, and disease of course. The 1.5 mile nature trail around beautiful Sky Lake goes through a picturesque covered bridge and passes near an authentic log cabin representative of homes popular in early Huntsville.
I’m surprised by how many people are not aware of this trail and by how empty it is even on weekends. Locals sometimes refer to it simply as the “Green Mountain trail” which could be confused with the other Green Mountain trail. To get to the Madison County Nature Trail, take Memorial Parkway south from I-565 to Weatherly. Turn left on Weatherly then right on Bailey Cove. From there, turn left onto Green Mountain Road and follow the signs to the Nature Trail. Here’s a Google maps link.
For those with young children, the trail is mostly stroller-friendly assuming your stroller is of the inflatable tire variety. Dogs are also welcome as long as they’re leashed. Interesting tidbit, the Madison County Nature Trail is Alabama's only braille trail with descriptive plaques along the path.
Access to the trail is free from 7:00 am until 30 minutes prior to sunset. Fishing is allowed for those less than 16 years old and over 60 Monday – Friday with a $1.50 charge.
What to See
On the trail, you’ll encounter the Cambron Covered Bridge named after Joe E. Cambron who was the Madison County Bridge Foreman from 1958-1974. The bridge makes for great photos especially in black and white.
After the bridge is a fully-accessible log cabin. According to Butch Chaffin, Park Manager, the log cabin was originally built in 1810 somewhere near New Market. It was donated to Madison County by the Herbert P. Walker family, brought to the Nature Trail, and reassembled.
Near the log cabin is the “School Trail”. I asked Mr. Chaffin about the significance of the trail’s name which is apparently due to the open air classroom that was constructed when the park was built consisting of log benches. The classroom is no longer available on the School Trail, however the name remains.
The Nature Trail’s website makes mention of the State’s largest and oldest Champion Winged Elm Tree which I never saw. According to Chaffin, a “champion” tree has been identified as the largest of its species within a state and it's located on the upper trail just north of the Springhouse.
Lastly, there’s an outdoor chapel toward the end of the trail available for use by reservation. The chapel is used frequently for weddings, church services, and memorials.
Near the entrance is a pavilion with several picnic tables, interesting landscaping, and even an educational log cabin model all overlooking beautiful 17-acre Sky Lake which usually contains several Canada Geese this time of year.
In the parking lot, we encountered the friendliest orange tabby named Catfish. According to Chaffin, Catfish has been around for about five years and helps control mice and rats as well as greet visitors. He also made for a good photo op with my daughter.