Cradled around the beautiful clean waters of Bethel Spring, North Alabama’s newest public nature preserve is another property brought to us by the Land Trust of North Alabama. Bethel Spring Nature Preserve protects a large portion of Keel Mountain, including one of Madison County’s largest waterfalls and 3 known caves. The caves are not open to visitors, but the 1.6 miles of trails are.
Hiking Bethel Spring Nature Preserve
The trails form two loops. (Trail Map PDF) The first is a short gravel road at the parking lot, which connects visitors to the trail loop that leads up the mountain and to the waterfall at the summit. The western fork of the loop, Carpenter Trail to Mill Trail, covers 400 feet in elevation in under half a mile. The eastern fork, Carpenter Trail to Falling Sink Trail, is longer for the same elevation.
Both trails are narrow and have portions that are rocky or may be slippery.
At the top of the mountain lies the destination: a romantic waterfall which drops into a cave below.
Several large rocks make for a great place to rest from the climb and enjoy the roar of the water and the cold air and mist wafting from the waterfall.
Back down the hill is less difficult, but watch your step. Some of the rocks are loose. Meanwhile, the spring is traveling through the mountain where it re-emerges as the source of Bethel Creek near the parking lot, pooling in clean, ice-cold blue-green water filled with small darting fish.
The hike is challenging but not lengthy. Come prepared with drinking water, sturdy shoes, and long pants. The best time to visit will be late winter and spring when the waterfall is the largest.
Like all Land Trust properties, the Preserve is open from dawn to dusk, and leashed pets are welcome.
Bethel Spring Nature Preserve is located at 2641 Cherry Tree Road in Gurley, AL. From Huntsville, take 72 east, turn right on New Hope Cedar Point Road and then right on Cherry Tree Road.