Tag Archives: Backpacking

Cane Creek Preserve

In 1979 Jim and Faye Lacefield bought fourty acres in a part of Colbert County, Alabama which can only be described as untouched. A natural canyon with 350-foot limestone walls in some places, the area wasn’t much good for most settler activity. The sheer limestone cliffs and overhangs however, had some prehistoric appeal. Archeologists have discovered pretty clear evidence of a thriving Paleo-Indian culture dating back 10,000 years very near the Cane Creek Preserve.

 Have you located your hiking boots yet?

 Over the years the Lacefields have added acreage. Today’s incarnation, frozen in time, should be a delight for hikers, naturalists and even those looking for a Sunday afternoon stroll. Today’s 700-acre preserve boast’s vistas guaranteed to make you catch your breath like the “Point” and the “Citadel.” Rock formations like the “Hogback” and the “Fin” are just the start of a geologic trip back in time. Footbridges cross Cane Creek and its tributaries to give the most perfect view of numerous waterfalls, gurgling brooks and thunderous clear streams which inspire a quiet reflection not approached anywhere else.

 So, are you ready to take a trip with me?















36 min.










We began the trip at the main parking area. We stopped for a minute to say “hi” to Jim who was sitting in a rocker on the upstairs wraparound porch of the Lacefield home. We set out immediately a few minutes after 10:00. Our first stop is known as the Waterfall. The trail is well kept, well marked and a pleasure for the most directionally challenged. Today however, there is still a little ice on the trail and it is a little treacherous. The view is well worth the extra surefooted effort. We have had more rain than usual and on this day it seemed there was another breathtaking waterfall on every corner. This one still wins the prize. After a small side trip we were back on the Shelf Trail.


IMG_1862I recommend Cane Creek Preserve for a winter romp because the views will knock you out. With the leaves off, there are postcards everywhere. The shelf trail gently descends into the Beaver Pond Wetlands and the beavers had been busy. The beaver family which resides in this area might be a little lazy or smart or both. They have learned to use Jim’s footbridges to weave their logs and mud into a work of engineering art. We found a good ford and headed for Delony Hollow.


Once out of the bogs, the trail hugs the limestone bluffs again. There are tons of rock shelters to explore and I found myself wondering about the ancient peoples who traversed these same hills. The trail gently ascended to an outcropping limestone formation named the Fin. Of course it is the Fin. We took a second to climb the less dangerous section and took a few pictures. I must restate, with the leaves off, pictures kind of take themselves. You just have to get in the way of beauty for a few seconds to see Wagnon, Wheeler and Hawk Pride mountains in the distance. We stopped for a rest at a fire pit at the north end of the traverse before moving on to the Sinks.


IMG_1881After the Sinks came the Pancake Boulders. I wish I had stopped to take some pictures but, we had picked up the pace. The trail back descended to the lowest point of the hike at a little less than 500 feet in elevation. The trail hugs Cane Creek with lots of bridges and the occasional privy which I greatly appreciated. The running gurgling water always brings peace and privy visits. Enough lollygagging, it was time for the leg burner.

Saving the Steep Trail, or what I affectionately call the Leg Burner, for last somehow seems to be a tradition. Even avid hikers will find the leg burner challenging as they ascend almost 300 feet in less than a quarter-mile. You can organize your hike so that you descend this section early but, I would not recommend it. It is quite uncomfortable and somehow goes against my nature to voluntarily walk off a bluff. With leg muscles burning however, the reward is on the way.


IMG_1887The reward is the Point. Cane Creek Preserve has tons of named and unnamed overlooks like the Citadel, the Fin and others but, the Point is the pièce de résistance. From the Point you see most of the Preserve with Hawk Pride Mountain in the background. Like the rest of the Preserve, there is a perfectly placed bench for contemplation. Someone will almost certainly be by in a few minutes which will snap a picture of you and your fellow hikers. For some reason, I always feel compelled to do so. Life is short and we never know if we will need a fresh picture of the Point.


By the time we were back to the main parking area, Faye had joined Jim on the porch. It was Sunday afternoon and there were 30 or so vehicles in the parking area. The breath and depth of geography and people represented always amazes me. There are lots of Tennessee, Mississippi tags but, it is always surprising to see New York or Canadian tag. We returned our walking sticks and maps as we signed out. By the way, please sign in and out. Wanderers frequently get lost and the Lacefields would like to send their Saint Bernards if you come up missing…just kidding. We, as always, shared our gratitude with the Lacefields as we said our goodbyes.

aee07ba6e9b21201c0b8d23ad35c9774scaledCane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve
251 Loop Rd.
Tuscumbia, AL 35674
Hours of Operation:
Open year-round

Seven Mile Island WMA

5 mi
3.0 mph
22 min mi
468 ft
640 ft
26 lbs



Paul and I went on a pretty neat little hike today. We were on the trail by 6:45. It was already 73 degrees by the time we started headed to 81 by the time the romp was over. Humidity, well summer in the south, right?image1 It was 90% when we started and we sliced off some air with my Swiss Army Knife when we wanted to breathe. Mercifully, my shirt was soaked in about 15 minutes. I drank a liter of water on the trail and two quarts of Gatorade afterwards.

Pretty uneventful hike with the exception of two guys with no vehicle walking in front of us just as we got started. They were in long Khaki pants and on carried a plastic grocery sack. With the exception of the wildlife we saw, we mostly walked and yakked.

The trail is a farm road with row crops on either side. It is a management area with a permit box and we saw plenty of shotgun shell casings so I imagine more than one dove has met their maker there. The trail runs parallel to the Tennessee River in the area just downstream of Wilson Dam on Pickwick Lake. image2It is a very gentle and almost imperceptible descent. I am really not sure about the discrepancy between the elevation numbers reported in the chart. One would think on a there and back course the GPS would register the same. Someone is maintaining the road with railroad ballast rock in the washes. Watch your ankles.

We saw several turkeys on the back of the first soybean field on the north as we made the first big turn. There were lots of puddles this morning because of the soaking rains of the last few days. Stopping very long will put you on the mosquito menu. As we got to the end of the road we saw a glimpse of a pretty large bird with a gray white underbelly. image5It might have been an eagle since we saw a nest on the transmission tower at the beginning of the romp. On the way back a lone juvenile Coyote stopped for a while to check us out. We saw more turkeys on the way back and a hen in the bushes clucked at us for a minute or two.

I am not sure if the mystery grocery sack men ran off the wildlife because we never saw them again after they turned the first corner on the trail. We were not especially quiet due to the rocks on the road. I thought however, we would see more wildlife.

See the Eagle nest on top of the transmission tower

See the Eagle nest on top of the transmission tower

Happy Trails Bevis

I guess reading Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the Woods, planted the seed some time ago. Here and now however, I admit Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild, fertilized that seed and made it sprout. The theme in both books and Strayed’s in particular of renewal and redemption while experiencing nature, as I believe God intended, spoke to me on a very spiritual level. Some people seem to be having a little trouble admitting this fact. The cleansing concept of one person, one trail and a broken spirit with God and his perfect creation is becoming very powerful in my life.

And tell me, who among us is not broken in some way?a12f4e5aa50cb4c6db268ab8d7ef9a61web

I started with a few walks in the woods and now find myself looking forward to my trips. I love to travel with friends but, one man alone with his God and his thoughts is starting to give me chills too. I find myself daydreaming about a through hike on the PCT or how the stars must look while camping near Guitar Lake or how seeing my first bear close-up will make me feel or how much lighter a two-pound tent will feel than a two and a half pound tent…

Ok, I hear you, maybe I am a little obsessed.

Don’t worry. I don’t have my resignation letter written yet but, I have spent a few bucks on backpacking equipment lately. Hiking boots, a backpack and trekking poles top the list today. More is on the way at some point. I haven’t done any camping yet but, camping, too, is on the way. That will require a sleeping bag and a tent. Oh, and I will need something to cook on. Maybe I can go to Mount Cheaha on my first camping trip. Better yet, the Smokies on the APT.

What’s that you say? Settle down Bevis?

With hiking boots and a pack I feel so powerful. I feel so grateful. When at an overlook sometimes I feel like John Gillespie Magee, Jr.:

                                …And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

 The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

I guess I have found something I needed on the trail. Maybe it is something pure, untouched and sacred. There is evidence of God elsewhere, like the selfless anonymous acts of people. But, if I can find a peaceful mind on the trail. If that peace brings me closer to God, then maybe it is ok to go a little overboard.

If you want to follow my journeys, you can see the tracks and pictures here;