Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association

Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association


Been wanting to hike some of the trails but at 2ish hours away from Birmingham it’s hard to make a day of it and have time to slow down and enjoy the experience. Is Wind Creek State Park the closest/best option for nearby tent camping? . I’ve hiked the Ridge Trail and it was really great! Thanks
While hiking on the little Smith Mountain trail yesterday, I noticed a sweet spring like scent. After looking around a moment, I saw several yellow flowers blooming on the edges of the trail. I knew they weren't the source of the smell, so I glanced around a bit more. Lo and behold, there was a medium sized shrub blooming in the middle of December. The area is surrounded by Mountain Laurel, so I suppose it could have been a rogue Laurel. Any ideas? PS. I apologize for the poor picture quality, as the blooms were off trail, downhill, and I don't like ticks lol
Hey all: Here is the video one of our guys shot during the exhibit dedication a few weeks back. Thanks for all you are doing to make Alabama a better place to live, and of course I always take delight in seeing all of you.
😡😡😡Please keep your dogs on their leash while walking the trails. I keep running into people letting their dogs run free coming at me and my dog. This is how an animal or person gets hurt and it's rude and selfish. 🙄😡😡
We walked the trail off of gold mine road and had a GREAT time!! But I would like to know what plant is this? And also we had a visitor that showed up to join us on the hike. We had a hard time getting him to leave. We put him in the mine that we walked by. There were several in the mine hanging upside down so we figured he would be comfy there.
View from the top of the world..aka Smith Mountain Fire tower .
What a great trail . I would say one of the most challenging here in Alabama , but also the most rewarding trail I have hiked here in Alabama . (Okay Smith Mountain firetower trail is beautiful and rewarding too )
Any where I can get a printable trail map of the area ? Free
Lucy Winn Fuller and I have been enjoying our CRATA hikes! Just watch out for falling "snakes." :)
Great hike today at the newly opened John B. Scott trail near Martin Dam.
Fun birding day! We could hear a Pileated Woodpecker, but we couldn’t find him.
I believe I saw a river otter while on the Kowliga Loop trail today. Anyone else ever seen one?

Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association (CRATA) is an organization dedicated to developing walking trails on public land around our lakes and streams.

The Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trails are footpath only trails along an area of the southeast shore and Sandy Creek area of beautiful Lake Martin (a 40,000-acre, 700-mile shoreline lake) in Tallapoosa County, Alabama. The trails provide the public with a water and wooded retreat into nature and promote preservation of this unique alpine area of the Tallapoosa River Valley in Central Alabama. Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trails are some of the most scenic and diverse hiking trails in Alabama. The trails skirt the shoreline of beautiful Lake Martin for approximately 6 miles. Other areas of the trails are high rocky ridges and bluffs, some with vistas of 6 to 10 miles overlooking Kowaliga Bay, Chimney Rock, Smith Mountain, and others along rocky shoal creeks, and rippling brooks. The trails are routed through a varied flora and fauna. There are high rocky ridges with mountain long leaf pine, mountain laurel, low and high bush blue berry, lush hardwood forests that include redbud, sourwood, dogwood, native azalea, umbrella and big leaf magnolia. Large thickets of Catawba Rhododendron are numerous. Deer, turkey and numerous bird species, including bald eagles, can be seen along the trail. Seventeen miles of trail are now open. You can hike from 1 to 17 miles of Loop Trail. A trail map is available for viewing at each trailhead sign. The trails are built to blend into nature, free of bicycles, motorized vehicles, horses or other pack animals. All signs to mark trail transitions are made of natural unpainted wood with the smallest footprint possible on this unique alpine area. All trails are built on Alabama Power Company land that is set aside as natural undeveloped. The Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association (CRATA) was incorporated February 24, 2004, as an all-volunteer nonprofit 501(c)3 tax exempt organization, dedicated to provide the public with wholesome outdoor trail venues for enjoying physical exercise, recreation, meditation, nature studies, and learning or improving hiking and backpacking skills. The Cherokee Ridge and the Deadening Alpine trailheads can be reached by State Highway 50 in Tallapoosa County. From the east, turn right off Highway 50 onto Overlook Drive at the Scenic Overlook sign. The trailhead for “The Deadening” Alpine Trail is 2 miles on the right next to the Harbor entrance. The trailhead for the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail is 3.3 miles on the right (look for the signs). From the west, turn left off Highway 50 onto Overlook Drive .3 mile past the Tallapoosa River Bridge at the Martin Dam sign. Trailhead parking for Cherokee Ridge is 1 mile on left. Trailhead parking for The Deadening is 3 miles on the left (look for the signs).

Mission: The Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association, Inc., is a volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to planning, building, and maintaining a footpath only trail. This trail is to be free of bicycles, motorized vehicles, horses, or other pack animals and utilized in a manner that will help preserve and promote the natural beauty of the flora, fauna, and other unique features of the Tallapoosa River Valley near the southeast shore of Lake Martin known as Cherokee Ridge, and Smith Mountain, near Dadeville, Alabama.

Another photo from Tony Johnson

Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association's cover photo

Thanks Tony Johnson great photo

The tangled mess on the Smith Lakeshore Trail has been cleared. We thank hikers who let us know when there are problems and special love goes to Trail Angels who take it upon themselves to help keep trails clear without having to be asked.

Catesby's Trillium, sometimes called Bashful Wakerobin. This specimen of the delicate and often overlooked wildflower was found on the rugged Little Smith Mountain Trail.

[04/22/20]   I walked all the Smith Mountain Trails this morning and was pleased to find very little wind damage. A few limbs are down and a couple of logs to step over but most of it could be cleared up by someone walking with limb pruners. There is a significant blockage of the Lakeshore Trail halfway between the boat ramp and the junction with the Little Smith Mountain Trail. It is over a mile from the parking lot and it may be a few days before this old man summons the energy to walk in that far with a heavy chain saw. HB

[04/20/20]   If anyone knows of storm damage or other problems to the Smith Mountain trails or the Tower area, please go to our website Click on "Our Trails" then on "Report a Problem." Be as specific about what and where as you can. We are few and appreciate your help. Thank you.

[03/26/20]   COVID-19 Guildlines for our Trails:

In two words: Common Sense.
Actually the CDC did issue some common sense advice for the National Parks. It is included below but I know you will give it the same reading time you give to software license agreements!

For our trails a few suggestions;
1. Don't sign or handle the guest books during this isolation period. What if you opened it and the last person just a few minutes before you was from NEW YORK! You would have to jump in the lake and burn your clothes.!

2. At Smith Mountain, just have one family at a time in the tower cab. Respect the space of others and try to pass only on the lower levels, which have larger platforms, so as to keep the 6 ft. distance. Respect the space of others around the exhibits and don't touch the exhibits.

3. When passing on the trails give way to approaching hikers. Don't hog the trail. Move off and allow plenty of space. No Hugging strangers on the trail. We understand that happens a lot!

4. We understand some of the parking areas are getting heavy traffic so please respect everyone's space.

From CDC:

Recommend maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.

Specifically, the CDC recommends high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, take extra precautions to be best protected against the spread of coronavirus.

Thank you for your cooperation.
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Lake Martin Resource Association

We loved curb service in the 60’s! Why not now!

Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail

Here's our first newsletter for 2020. If you have any questions or notice a 'typo', let me know! Send a message or email me at [email protected] #PPBT

Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail

SITE of the WEEK: Smith Mountain Historic Fire Trail, Tallapoosa County

A series of footpath-only trails originate from the Smith Mountain parking lot. In addition to the Tower Trail to the historic fire tower, there is the Lakeshore Trail that winds along secluded shorelines of Lake Martin, the rugged Little Smith Mountain Trail, and the Island Hop Trail that connects a series of islands (accessible only during winter low water levels). The trails can also be accessed by boat. The trail difficulty ranges from moderate to difficult. Black and Turkey Vultures are almost always soaring around Smith Mountain. While a common sight in many places, the 90 foot fire lookout tower enables you to see vultures from above, a unique perspective enjoyed by many. Smith Mountain’s old growth mountain longleaf pines host many woodpeckers. Along the shoreline herons are common and migratory waterfowl are frequent visitors in winter. #PPBT

Additional Information:

[03/05/20]   Word is that our parking lot off gold mine road (John B. Scott trail) is flooded again. Be aware. Someone will probably post photos later.

We watch our parking lots so if you are leaving a vehicle late at night or overnight let us know via Facebook message. This vehicle has been seen several times overnight at Smith Mountain. Last night we dispatched sheriff’s department to check out. Concerned that hikers could get lost or injured.

The marvelous trout lilies are starting to droop, but there are plenty of other early spring wildflowers on our trails. Carolina jessamine, rue anemone, azure bluets, trillium, and redbud to name a few. And new leaves such as those of the red buckeye are as pretty as flowers. There is a different show every week. Take a hike.

The largest concentrated patch of Trout Lilies you will ever see are a short walk down the Cherokee Bluffs Dam Railroad Trail on the Yates Forever Wild property. They may be already 2 or 3 days past their prime so better hurry. Right after the first creek crossing on the Railroad Trail turn either right or left to see the best of them. Heck, turn both ways just not at the same time.

Tallapoosa River floodwaters have receded and all trails on the Yates Forever Wild property are accessible and in good shape. The high water mark is clearly visible in the second pic.

Our cameras see you huffing and puffing when you finish the climb up Smith Mountain. So just for you, we've constructed some sturdy benches. You can tell your co-hikers you just want to take a minute to absorb the views.


Glad to see our friends up at Flagg Mountain get some recognition in Lake Martin Living magazine. Asimple idea to route a trail from the Florida National Scenic Trail to Geneva, Alabama, morphed into a detailed plan of action and larger scope project to bridge the last remaining gap in a continuous East Coast Trail System. The path ends in Coosa County at Flagg Mountain in Weogufka.

On the right of this photo you see the kiosks for our Yates Forever Wild trails. The parking lot and road to it are completely under the floodwaters of the Tallapoosa. We are happy to report that the top of Smith Mountain is still above water.

Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association's cover photo

CRATA was well represented at the Alabama Recreational Trails Conference in Gulf Shores by members and friends. Sandra C Fuller, Walt Hutcheson, Harold Banks, Jimmy Lanier, Shane Harris, Jerry Bynum. (Not pictured John C Prophitt)

Donate, Welcome to CRATA

We always welcome donations. We are an all volunteer outfit and depend on you, our Friends of CRATA, for our financial needs. Thank you for your financial support!  Donate with confidence knowing that all online transactions are encrypted and securely processed, and no credit...

We’ve made the big time, well maybe little big time. We’re presenting at Alabama Trails Conference in Gulf Shores. Word got out that our own Harold Banks was speaking so it’s a sellout!

[02/03/20]   If you're wondering why our cover page is "about amazon smile" well here is the scoop - the 411.

Your Amazon Purchases can help Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association!!

Just go to and login in your usual manner (don't go to regular site). Under the Supporting Charity enter: Cherokee Ridge, press enter and then select us (click the Select button) as your charity of choice. It is that simple. Amazon will make a donation to us based on the value of your purchases and it DOES NOT increase your price in any way! Same products and same prices but we get a donation from Amazon! How cool is that? If this is your first time using it may ask you to select your charity. If not, just look right under the search bar for the "Supporting Charity" item.
Happy Shopping!

Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association's cover photo

Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association's cover photo

Three Alabama lakes get spruced up with ‘The Preserves’ recreation sites - Alabama NewsCenter

Smart developers around the lake understand importance of the outdoors. CRATA is not involved in this private initiative but we wish them the best. Lake Harris, Lay Lake and Lake Martin are the latest with Preserves projects.

[01/13/20]   Love to see hikers enjoying our trails. From instagram.

New signage installed dedicating the Island Hop Trail in honor of the late David Forker, a generous friend of CRATA.

Smith Mountain Exhibit Signage Project

Dedication ceremony Smith Mountain signage project

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administered grant funds through the Recreational Trails Program to help provide signage at Smith Mo...

Today’s Smith Mountain Exhibit Signage dedication was a wonderful event. Weather was perfect and thank you to all that attended.

Thursday, Nov. 21, 11:00 a.m.
A short ceremony recognizing the community support and many donors that made this fabulous one-of-a-kind outdoor education complex possible. In total, there are 34 high quality graphic display panels plus encased exhibits. Some are kiosk mounted, some are on wayside panels, and some are mounted on the lookout tower itself. The complex is a showcase of the area's natural and cultural history. Each panel features stunning photography of local subjects and original text provided by local naturalists and historians. Attached is a small sample. Shuttle service is provided from the parking lot to the mountain top, but arrive by 10:30 a.m. to be assured of catching the shuttle. Of course you can hike the trail to the top if you prefer.

7 Short And Sweet Fall Hikes In Alabama With A Spectacular End View

Seems someone else ranks Smith Mountain as Number One Get ready to experience some of Alabama's most spectacular views when hiking these seven scenic trails.

Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Highlights - American Trails

Thank you to ADECA for their support of our project. Every year hundreds of projects across the country use Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funding to complete new projects and improve existing infrastructure. These are two recent highlights of how those funds are being used on the ground.

The Alexander City Outlook

The Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association will hold a dedication ceremony at Smith Mountain next Thursday.

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