Trail

Cahaba River Loop, Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama

Piper, AL
Length: 1.40 mi.
Type: Loop

About This Trail

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ACTIVITIES: Hiking, splashing, birding, paddling

LENGTH OF HIKES: 1.4 miles

OUT AND BACK OR LOOP: Both

DIFFICULTY OF TERRAIN: Easy

ELEVATION GAIN: 346 feet

PARKING FEE/PASS: No

TOILETS: No

CHANGING TABLE: No

NURSING BENCHES: No

DOGS ALLOWED: No

BIKES/HORSES/MOTORS ON TRAIL: No

CELL RECEPTION: No

DRINKING WATER AVAILABLE: No

POTENTIAL CHILD OR BABY HAZARDS: The current can be swift after it rains.
Always recommend children wear life jackets or flotation devices.

GEAR SUGGESTIONS: Personal Flotation Devices

One of the newest Wildlife Refuges in the country, this site was established in 2002 and is home to the Cahaba shiner, a ray fin fish that’s on the endangered species list. But even more spectacular and obvious to the passing hiker are the Cahaba lilies, rare, delicate, spindly looking flowers that grow in only a few areas in the southeast US. The reason for this is that the lilies require a special habitat of swift-flowing water over rocks and lots of sun, and the 200-mile Cahaba River offers this.

The park offers many easy trails for new walkers with limited elevation gain on three easy all-access trails: the Cahaba River Loop, Cahaba Lily Trail, and Tannehill Ironworks Trail.

Up your mileage a little bit, and hike through mountain longleaf and loblolly pines filled with woodpeckers, orchard orioles and Kentucky warblers skipping from limb
to limb, and you can cover between 2 to 3 miles on the Piper Trail Interpretive Loop or venture farther out to Falling Rock Falls. The falls can be slippery, so beware if you are carrying a little one. Also note that there are sections of the trail that may be better suited for older kids, so you might have to carry a toddler through some of it.

Finished hiking? Swim, kayak, float, canoe, or play on the edges of Alabama’s longest free-flowing stream. This wild wetland is best known for having 131 fish species and 13 plant and animal species that are found nowhere else in the world.

Love birds? This is a great place to spot belted kingfishers, great blue herons and the occasional osprey or bald eagle. Keep in mind that traveling through the park is
slow going. Expect delays as you travel down a narrow gravel road, with pedestrians and ongoing car traffic. Pullouts can be found up and down the
road, allowing you to dip into different trails within
the refuge.

INSIDER’S TIP
Visit between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day every year for the best viewing. The weekend to avoid is the last Saturday in May due to a large festival honoring the lilies that grow in the area.

 

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Trail Features

Elevation gain 346 ft.
Stroller friendly No
ADA accessible No
Water fountains No
Bathrooms No
Cell reception None
Pet friendly No
Nearby convenience store No
Camping Nearby No
Emergency support
within 5 miles
No

Trail highlights

Creek / River

WHY IT’S A FAVORITE
“The Cahaba lilies are only found in a few places in the country, and this is one of them. They are absolutely breathtaking to witness and one of the reasons we keep coming back to this park over and over.” —KATHRYN JONES

Trail Contributor

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Hike it Baby Trail Guide is managed by the Family Trail Guide team. If a trail has been “abandoned” by the initial owner, it gets adopted by the team. Also, if there are no trails in the area, the Family Trail Guide team researches trails that are family friendly in the area to insure that hikes cover all areas where Hike it Baby hikes.

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