Sipsey Wilderness Area

This weekend Daniel and I decided to go on a quick overnight backpacking trip. After researching various trails in Northern Alabama we decided on the Sipsey Wilderness in Bankhead National Forest.


Our route was an 11-mile circuit that started at the Randolph Trailhead. We took the Rippey Trail {201} down into the Sipsey Gorge where we camped. We then took the Sipsey River Trail {209} and then the Randolph Trail {202} back to our car.


Since moving to Alabama, we have found it intriguing that roads {and trails} are often numbered instead of named…

202 was a well-maintained trail. 209 included two river crossings and plenty of downed trees to climb over or under or around. As well as several small gully crossings. 202 included climbing back up the ridge and then following a logging road back to our car.


Our campsite was next to the river, right above an entrance to a cave. I was a little concerned that an animal might live in the cave and disturb us during the night, but thankfully that was not the case. The sky was clear so we opted to leave our tent fly off for the night. The stars were brilliant.


We made camp right at dark. While cooking dinner, Daniel discovered that our Backpackers Pantry Wild West Chili was expired and on top of that our fuel ran out just before our water got to a boil. Thus our dehydrated meal did not quite fully rehydrate. Further more, without fuel, we were unable to make hot chocolate that night nor cook breakfast in the morning {our custom is to make fried Spam for breakfast} – we had to resort to tuna and crackers for breakfast before hitting the trail.

It was a good thing we were only camping for one night because when we were packing up camp, one of the poles on our 8-year-old North Face tent snapped 😦


Right off the bat we had a river crossing. Thankfully we were able to pick our way across rocks without getting our feet wet. The Sipsey River Trail was a nice stroll through the woods on a very sandy trail with occasional gully crossings.


When we reached river crossing #2, the water was deeper. We both carry Chaco sandals, but opted to keep our boots on. Unfortunately we both got our feet soaked on this crossing and had to hike for two hours with soggy feet. What we should have done was cross barefoot.

We made it back to our car at 1pm. Sophie immediately laid down in the shade of the car and Daniel and I took our boots off and changed clothes in the parking lot.

We celebrated coming off the trail by stopping at Longhorn Steakhouse for a late lunch.

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