Shoal Creek Preserve is part of the Forever Wild Land Trust in Alabama. The preserve offers two hiking trails, 2.5 and 1.8 miles, and one horse trail, 2.1 miles. The Jones Branch Loop, 2.5 mile trail, offer a great quick hike through an upland hardwood forest. Wildlife is abundant during spring and early summer. The trail begins from the parking lot and heads north across a small field and into the woods. For most of the hike, the trail transverses small hills and valleys. The path is dirt, gravel and rock. Watch for spiders and webs which are abundant along the trail.
Quarter of a mile into the hike, you will come to the Lawson Branch Loop, a 1.8 mile loop which starts and ends at a log bridge over Lawson Branch. Enjoy a rest and listen to the small rapids before continuing to the trail. For this hike, we did not take the 1.8 mile loop. Continuing, the trail transverses additional woods on a slightly rockier path. At the horse trail crossing, trekkers can take a short detour down the hill towards Shoal Creek. If you packed a fishing pole, this area offers a good place to cast your bait and see what you can lore in.
The trail continues another 2.25 miles through woods and alongside open meadows. Watch for deer in this grassy clearings as well as fowl nesting in the cedar and pine trees. Overall, the hike is an enjoyable day walk. If you’re looking for views or majestic features, this trail is not the one. It’s simply a peaceful stroll through Northern Alabama forest.