Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association

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.

Everybody has to poop, but nobody has to poop near the trail. Step well away from the trail and cover your mess with dirt, leaves, or sticks.. Any old house cat can teach you how.

lakemagazine.life

Find yourself on a CRATA trail

You've asked for it. Now you can track yourself on CRATA trails.

lakemagazine.life Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association last month launched a new website that could help to prevent hikers from getting lost on the 27 miles of CRATA trails around Lake Martin.

This remarkable nest is 4 feet off the ground on the rugged Little Smith Mountain Trail. It has served its purpose and the little ones have flown. Leave it undisturbed so others can enjoy.

Gettin' Outdoors With BDL

At dusk we are often lucky enough to hear a whip-poor-will. Or is it a chuck-wills-widow? This short clip will help you distinguish between these often confused birds of the night.

I put together this short audio piece to show you, who are interested, the difference in a Whip-poor-will & Chuck-will's-widow.

We can't soar with the vultures, but the next best thing is sharing their view from the top of Smith Mountain Fire Lookout Tower.

As tempting as it is to pick them up, it is best not to disturb a box turtle on the trail.

Good workday at Smith Mountain putting up Kiosk that will house recognition plaques for Tower Restore Donors and Exhibit Donors. So thankful to all who have contributed to our efforts in so many ways.
Kiosk top built by Mike Kane. Lindsay Taylor Kane

Workers today JimmyJudy Lanier
Harold Banks Jerry Bynum Fred Worsham IV and me. Also two unlucky hikers that happened by just when we needed muscle to hoist the top up onto the posts.

Cheryl Magoni Bynum

A considerate hiker sent us these pictures and message: "
"Found this key on 5/17 on a bench overlooking the lake on the Little Smith Mountain Trail. We left it wedged between two of the large map frames in the kiosk 100 ft or so past the start of the fire tower trail at the parking lot."

One leaf makes an umbrella, four would make a tent. There are so many bigleaf magnolias in the Great Gorge of CRATA's John B. Scott trail you feel as if you are dwarfed and lost in the forest primeval. Watch for dinosaurs.

crata.org

Home, Welcome to CRATA

This is call your attention to our new, improved website, www.crata.org. In addition to information on our organization you can now volunteer, donate or just read up on all the cool happenings on the trails. So many have asked about Maps and now Walt, the webmaster, has provided turn-by-turn directions from your current location to each of our four major trailheads. Just go to the main page, scroll down and click on Maps and directions! Be sure to Mobile Bookmark the link so you can find it easily next time. Bonus! If you click on that link while hiking one of our trails, your GPS enabled device will place you directly on the trail. Now, you won't get lost and you can see your hiking progress in real-time! Enjoy the new site and give us feedback here on Facebook. We love to hear from you. (Remember, your device must be GPS enabled. Most laptops won't give you a correct current location).

crata.org

REMINDER--Camping is not allowed on Smith Mountain. Smith Mountain is off limits at night. When you are in the tower or exhibit area of Smith Mountain you are on one of our cameras. We enforce these rules because most malicious behavior occurs at night. Spread the word and help keep some young folks out of trouble.

Smith Mountain is a’bloomin’. Come on up!

Spreading the word that we have something unique and special.

On Thursday, Jim Lanier and Harold Banks spoke to us about the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association. These wonderful trails are around Lake Martin and provide outdoor enjoyment for all levels. Visit their page or CRATA.org.

CRATA has written agreements with Alabama Power Company and Forever Wild allowing us to build FOOTPATH-ONLY trails in specific locations on their properties. We cannot change that. No bicycles, no horses, no motorized vehicles. We don't want to get this young man in trouble but are posting his picture as a reminder that when you are in the tower and exhibit area of Smith Mountain you are on one of our cameras. In daytime we should only see happy hikers and at night only furry four-legged critters. Share.

Most of you know that CRATA is an organization dedicated to our enjoyment of God's creation. Our investment of time and resources in Smith Mountain Park is paying great dividends to our community. There are some however that do not respect our property. Night time use of the Park is expressly prohibited for several good reasons. Safety is paramount. Emergency personnel have been called out at night to find lost campers. Those that abuse the rules are usually ones that are careless and leave behind trash and who build fires - that are a serious threat to our Park. Here is one such group that camped on the mountain and left behind a huge mess and had a dangerous campfire. If you know them, let us know names. We do not appreciate those that would abuse the privilege of using such a wonderful Park. Please share and help us impress upon all that this Park is a privilege and deserves respect. I guess these young folks need lessons in reading signs and respecting properly. We should stress that there are hundreds of other visitors that truly respect our trails. We are thankful for all of you that enjoy the trails and leave behind only your footprints.

WARNING--You are on camera when in the tower or exhibit area of Smith Mountain and if you are there at night you are guilty of criminal trespass. Most people mean no harm and we have been lenient, but due to recent incidents we are now letting trespassers explain themselves to sheriff deputies. We've done it before. PLEASE SHARE and hopefully keep some kid out of trouble. There are images from other cameras that may be reviewed by law enforcement.

Our native Piedmont Rhododendrons are at their peak on most of CRATA's trails. Put away your phone and go look for something real.

There is something new blooming every day. Although not particularly numerous, you can find delicate wild azaleas on all of CRATA's trails. Go, look, see.

[03/14/19]   FOUND---A rod and reel near the boat dock just off the Smith Mountain Lakeshore trail. If you can describe it, we will get it back to you.

"I have two doctors, my left leg and my right."---G. M. Trevelyan
Take a hike.

Trail Angel Tip: Put a Walmart sack in your pocket so you can carry out trash left by sorry, no good, rotten, nasty, lazy, brainless, scum bags. In a pinch you could use a Dollar General sack.

Want to see some recent beaver activity? They've been busy along the Tallapoosa river banks on the John B. Scott trail. Take a hike.

Trail Angel Tip: Sign the trail register EVERY time you hike. Only one in five do so. Be the One. This helps us show landowners how much you appreciate them letting CRATA build trails. It also helps us prove to politicians that more and more people are enjoying recreational use of Forever Wild Lands. This could become very important down the road, er trail.

The delicate trout lily blooms early and doesn't last long. The Yates Forever Wild Railroad Trail has them in abundance and you don't have to go far to find them. After the first creek crossing turn right and the hills are covered with the graceful flowers.

Please share.

Walker Bynum loved Smith Mountain and the main trail accessing the fire lookout tower has been renamed the Walker Bynum Tower Loop Trail. The Bynum family has asked that memorial gifts be made to CRATA. To make a contribution, go to the website at www.CRATA.org and on the main page under "What's New", click on the link "Donate to the Walker Bynum Memorial Fund." Donations may be made at one time or monthly and paid by PayPal or credit card. Memorials can also be made by checks written to CRATA, P.O. Box 240503, Eclectic, AL 36024. Be sure to mark your check "For Walker Bynum Memorial."

Walker Bynum loved Smith Mountain and the main trail accessing the fire lookout tower has been renamed the Walker Bynum Tower Loop Trail. The Bynum family has asked that memorial gifts be made to CRATA. To make a contribution, go to the website at www.CRATA.org and on the main page under "What's New", click on the link "Donate to the Walker Bynum Memorial Fund." Donations may be made at one time or monthly and paid by PayPal or credit card. Memorials can also be made by checks written to CRATA, P.O. Box 240503, Eclectic, AL 36024. Be sure to mark your check "For Walker Bynum Memorial."

A few days before Walker Bynum's spirit departed this earthly realm, he assisted his father, CRATA President Jerry Bynum, in removing this tattered flag that proudly flew above the Smith Mountain Fire Lookout Tower. A respectful, ceremonial burning of the flag in Walker's honor will take place Saturday morning, February 2. Participants are asked to meet in the Smith Mountain parking lot at 9:30 AM for a communal walk to the top of the mountain. The ceremony will begin precisely at 10:00 AM.

[01/09/19]   FOUND - SECOND NOTICE - Two nice trekking poles were left at the Yates parking lot for the John Scott and Railroad trails in early December. We will return to the rightful owner if sent a message with the brand, color, and grip type of the poles.

The government shutdown has not affected CRATA trails or the nature that surrounds them. While waiting for your favorite National Parks to reopen you can visit Smith Mountain where the tower offers the best panoramic views in Alabama and where 34 graphic display panels and wayside exhibits rival those could you see in any National Park. What a wonderful place to get some exercise, renew your spirit, and maybe even learn something. Free to all.

The trails on the Yates Forever Wild property are a bit soggy, but a little mud is a small price to pay to walk these woods.

Happy New Year and Happy Trails to you.
From Roy, Dale, and CRATA 🥾🥾

Smith Mountain is best explored on foot. But maybe these aerial shots will inspire you to lace up your hiking shoes.

CRATA volunteers completed another small bridge today over a creek on the Railroad Trail in the Yates Forever Wild tract. The last bridge we need to build on that trail will span Channahatchee Creek which will make it possible to walk from the Tallapoosa River below Martin Dam all the way to Hwy 229 near the Kent community. It will be a monstrous steel truss bridge of historical significance. More on that big project later.

The deep green of our native Christmas fern is a pleasant contrast to the drab browns of winter's forest floor. How can you tell for sure it is a Christmas fern? The individual leaflets can look like (L to R) Santa on the back of his sleigh, a Christmas stocking, or an elf shoe. Take a child for a walk and watch her face light up when you share your nature lore.

November and December seem to be the best months to find fascinating Lion's Mane mushrooms on our trails. They range from tennis ball to volleyball size, are white when they are young and edible, and turn "lion" colored as they get older. They are not common so consider yourself lucky if you spot this beautiful, alien creature.

www.outdooralabama.com

No hunting is allowed on properties accessed by CRATA trails emanating from Smith Mountain, Overlook Park, or The Deadening. However, CRATA trails on the Yates Forever Wild properties are within a Wildlife Management Area where hunting is allowed. During posted hunting seasons on the Yates WMA we advise hikers to stay strictly on the trails and to wear bright colors.
https://www.outdooralabama.com/sites/default/files/Wildlife/wildlife-management-areas/2018-2019%20WMA%20Maps/2018-2019%20Yates%20Finalv2_0.pdf

outdooralabama.com

[12/05/18]   FOUND - Two trekking poles left at the Yates parking lot for the John Scott and Railroad trails. To make sure we get them to the rightful owner, send a message with the brand, color, and grip type of the poles.

Trail Angel Tip: If you encounter an obstacle in the trail, move it. If it is too large or dangerous for you to handle, send us a message. Thanks to all you wonderful Trail Angels.

Trail Angel Tip: Help keep your favorite trails groomed by carrying hand pruners on your hike. Most of our routine trail maintenance is done by unsung heroes working alone.

Crawfish abound in the creeks on the Yates Forever Wild property. Even small pools can hold amazingly large crawfish. See if you can spot them in Yellowstone Creek on the John B. Scott trail.

alexcityoutlook.com

Smith Mountain added to birding trail - The Alexander City Outlook

Smith Mountain officially added to Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail.

alexcityoutlook.com It was supposed to be on the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail when the trail opened in 2011 but it was not. Now Smith Mountain joins one of nearly 300 official birding locations in Alabama. “The Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail launched in 2011 without Smith Mountain, as construction was not completed...

Last call to the birders and the curious. Get a free bird poster and possibly get your picture in the paper or a magazine. So wear a clean shirt.

I am so ready to be at Smith Mountain tomorrow! The trails have been 'polished' and we'll have posters installed in the kiosks! (and available to participants..no charge, of course!) The weather will be wonderful for hiking. Please join us at 9:00 am as we welcome Smith Mountain into the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail. Birmingham Audubon will be on hand to lead us in bird-identification on the mountain! I'll have extra binoculars for anyone who came without! And don't forget: take photos and enter our photo contest!

Join us at the Smith Mountain Parking lot 9:00 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 12 to officially welcome Smith Mountain as a Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail site. A bird walk led by Birmingham Audubon members will follow. Even if you are not a birder, it is amazing to watch those who are tell you which birds are talking and what they are saying.

Just a reminder: One week from today we will officially welcome Smith Mountain into the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail. After a brief statement, we will have a bird walk led by Birmingham Audubon members! Come join us! We will meet in the parking area and begin at 9:00 am. Which of you are ready to climb to the top of the tower???? :-)

Warning! Our trails, especially Smith Mountain, are very dangerous at night. I know, well duh!!, but some folks aren’t blessed with common sense. Saturday night we had another couple get lost at night and that brought out Sheriff, Fire, Ambulance and other volunteer personnel. So please enjoy but do so responsibly. Friends don’t let friends hike at night.

Trail Angel Tip: Carry compact pruners when you walk your favorite trail. Did you know most of our routine trail maintenance is done by unsung heroes working alone? You can be an unsung hero too!

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1095 Kowaliga Rd.
Eclectic, AL
36024
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