Sipsey Wilderness

Known as ‘The Land of 1,000 Waterfalls,’ the Sipsey is Alabama’s first, largest, and most-visited designated wilderness area. Traditionally the homeland of the Cherokee and Chickasaw, it was originally designated in 1975. Its size was more than doubled in 1988 to its present total of 25,970 acres. It is part of the Bankhead National Forest, and administered by the United States Forest Service.

The 10 Essentials


  • backpacking
  • bird-watching
  • camping
  • climbing
  • day hiking
  • equestrian
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • hunting
  • paddling
  • picnicking
  • swimming
  • trail running



The ‘Big Tree’ – a yellow poplar, that at more than 150 feet, is the tallest in Alabama

Ship Rock & Needle’s Eye – exceptional rock formations

Keep an eye out for mortar holes left by native inhabitants of cave shelters


Appalachian mixed mesophytic forest with some of the last virgin hardwood stands in Alabama. Sandstone cliffs, caves, and bluffs fall to limestone canyon floors flowing abundantly with water.
Elevations range from ~580 – 1000’


Open year-round; ideal seasons are spring & fall.
Camping is limited to 7 days. Group sizes are limited to 10.
Check with the Bankhead NF for current alerts and restrictions before heading out.


There are 7 trailheads and 12 official trails totaling more than 50 miles.
There are no official campsites within the wilderness. Please follow LNT principles, and camp only in already-established spots.
Vault toilets and trash cans are located at the Sipsey River Picnic Area, just outside the wilderness.


No permits required. A parking fee of $3 / day is required only at the Sipsey River TH.


The Sipsey Wild & Scenic River flows through the Wilderness.

The Sipsey River Trail is Site #15 on the North Alabama Birding Trail Northwest Loop.


Kid-friendly: most of the trails are rated easy to moderate
Dog-friendly: must be leashed at all times
ADA: limited trail access – check specific trail reports for suitability.


Double Springs is a small town to the south with most services, including the Bankhead NF Ranger Station at: 1070 CA-33.

Moulton is a larger full-service town to the northeast. Wild South has an office at 552 Lawrence Street, and is an excellent source of information.


Risks include: copperhead snakes, ticks, poison ivy, feral hogs, flooding, potentially-dangerous creek crossings.

Flora & Fauna

The biodiversity in the Sipsey is exceptional. Not only does it contain the state’s tallest yellow poplar, it also provides habitat for the endemic waterdog & threatened flattened musk turtle.

You may also see:

  • around 100 species of fern, some as small as ONE cell thick!
  • mink
  • scarlet tanager
  • blue cohosh
  • and some of the few remaining Eastern Hemlocks in the Southeast that have not been infested with the hemlock wooly adelgid.
Sipsey, AL
6:04 am7:27 pm CDT
Feels like: 52°F
Wind: 1mph S
Humidity: 84%
Pressure: 30.14"Hg
UV index: 0
6 am7 am8 am9 am10 am
86°F / 66°F
82°F / 66°F
84°F / 63°F
84°F / 64°F
82°F / 63°F

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Wild Alabama

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