Monte Sano Nature Preserve Trail System

The Monte Sano Nature Preserve offers 1,107 acres and 20.3 miles of public trails for hiking, biking, environmental education, bird watching, picnicking, and reflection. The Preserve is the scenic backdrop for the city of Huntsville, Alabama, and is the home of what remains of the Monte Sano Railway, historic Three Caves Quarry, Civil War landmark Trough Springs, and popular Wildflower Trail. The Monte Sano Nature Preserve is one of three Land Trust of North Alabama Preserves that are each larger than Central Park and are all within Huntsville city limits.

photo: Monte Sano Nature Preserve Environmental Education Picnic Pavilion in Fall Type: Greenway, Mountain Bike Trail, Nature Trail, Rail Trail, Urban Trail
Length: 20.00 miles
Loop Trail? Yes
Allowed Uses: Bicycling (off pavement)
Dogs - On leash
Heritage and History
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Wildlife Observation
Agency:
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

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Directions

Location: Monte Sano Mountain in Huntsville, AL
States: Alabama
Counties: Madison
Latitude: 34.74382   Longitude: -86.51132

To Monte Sano Nature Preserve's primary trailhead: From Alabama I-65 exit 340, merge onto I-565 E towards Huntsville. Take exit 19B for US-231 N/US-431 N/Memorial Parkway and merge onto N Memorial Parkway. Turn right onto University Drive NW which becomes Pratt Avenue NW then Bankhead Parkway. Cross over Toll Gate Road and continue up Monte Sano Mountain. Paved Land Trust parking lot is ½ mile further on right. Three additional trailheads and six additional public access points are available at other sites on the mountain.
Note: Downloadable trailmaps in PDF format available on www.LandTrustNAL.org.

Description

The wooded slopes of the Land Trust of North Alabama's Monte Sano Nature Preserve create the scenic backdrop for the city of Huntsville, Alabama. 1,107 acres and 20.3 miles of public trails offer opportunities for hiking, biking, environmental education, bird watching, picnicking, and reflection. The variety of trail difficulty - from easy to very difficult - appeals to all ages and abilities. The Monte Sano Nature Preserve is one of three Land Trust Preserves that are each larger than Central Park and are all within Huntsville city limits.

Huntsville/Madison County's mountains form the final segment of the Great Appalachian chain and provide some of the southernmost habitats of broadleaf hardwoods such as the Sugar Maple. Monte Sano is home to several plant species important to the study of ecosystem stability referred to by scientists as "relics," because they provide clues to the climate of periods hundreds of thousands of years ago. Some of these species include the American Smoketree (Chittamwood), Morefield's Leather Flower, Price's Potato Bean, and Cumberland Rosinweed.

Volunteers have created and maintain this multi-use trail system for passive non-motorized recreation. The Preserve's 27 named trails include a Rails-to-Trails designee (Old Railroad Bed Trail); a regional birdwatcher favorite (Fagan Creek Trail where over 150 species of birds, 70 of which are uncommon, have been sighted); an historic Civil War landmark (Trough Springs Trail); a former limestone quarry named Three Caves which has been the set for several movies; the purported route of the James Gang's 1883 daring escape following a downtown Huntsville bank robbery; the "killer" part of Alabama's "Toughest Trail Run" - the Mountain Mist 50K (Waterline Trail); and spring wildflower mecca (Wildflower Trail along Fagan Creek).

Both the city of Huntsville and the Land Trust own land which comprise the Preserve, with the Land Trust providing management and trail development/maintenance. The Land Trust's Public Recreation Committee is responsible for identifying, prioritizing, planning, implementing, and maintaining all recreational development including trail development and trailheads on properties opened to the public. In addition, this committee works closely with the Volunteer Coordinator to recruit, develop, and nurture volunteers needed to support their efforts. This committee is also responsible for all mapping and GIS gathering efforts. The Land Trust staff representatives on the Public Recreation Committee are the Land Manager and the Land Steward.

The Land Trust offers environmental outreach programs. Seasonal hikes and events offer a gateway to use and direct enjoyment of Land Trust trails, increasing probability of self-initiated usage. Environmental education events on the trails help foster appreciation of nature and the need to preserve the places we love. This is vital in raising the next generation of land preservationists.

Other organized groups such as the Sierra Club, Wildflower Society, OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), classes from Alabama A&M University, University of Alabama in Huntsville, and homeschool and Scout groups are but a few who consistently use these trails that are open to the public.

The Preserve's trails are also connected to Huntsville's greenways as portions of the Big Spring, Chapman Mountain, and Spacewalk Section I Greenways. Partnerships with the city of Huntsville, the Monte Sano State Park, and Alabama's Forever Wild have helped create a trail system that attracts residents and area visitors alike.

Additional Details

Width: 20 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil, Compacted
Secondary Surface: Crushed Rock
Grass or Vegetation
Gravel
Rock, boulders
Rock, smooth
Soil

Average Grade: 6%
Elevation Low Point: 700
Elevation High Point: 1,500
Year Designated: 2012

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Brochure: Old Railroad Bed Brochure
Brochure: Trough Springs Brochure
Brochure: Wildflower Trail brochure used in our environmenta
Website: Land Trust of North Alabama

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Public Contact:
Andy Prewett
Land Manager
Land Trust of North Alabama
907 Franklin Street
Huntsville , AL 35801
(256) 534-5263
andyp@landtrustnal.org

Trail Management:
Cynthia Potts
Executive Director
Land Trust of North Alabama
907 Franklin Street
Huntsville , AL 35801
(256) 534-5263
cynthia@landtrustnal.org

Trail Management:
Cathie Mayne
Marketing Director
Land Trust of North Alabama
907 Franklin Street
Huntsville , AL 35801
(256) 534-5263
cathie@landtrustnal.org

 

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