Wild-flowing creeks in northwestern Alabama converge to become the Sipsey River, 61 miles of which has been designated Wild and Scenic. Running below sandstone bluffs that rise 30 to 100 feet above the water, through a forest of often imposing second-growth trees and occasional small stands of virgin timber (some of the last virgin timber in the state), the Sipsey and its tributaries slice neatly through the Wilderness. Sinkholes, small caves, and scenic overlooks are plentiful. Less plentiful is the rare flattened musk turtle, an inhabitant of the Sipsey. Twelve established trails, all rated easy to moderate, crisscross the area. Several depart from the Sipsey River Recreation Area on the southern boundary, which has sanitary facilities, no developed campsites and a $3.00 recreation use fee. From here, Trail 209 follows the river north and joins Trail 206 after about eight miles, ending after about 2.5 more miles at a parking lot on the northern boundary. Trail 200 runs north along Borden Creek to meet an old road that gives access to the heart of Sipsey Wilderness; it, too, ends at a parking lot on the northern boundary. A 13-mile loop is possible by taking Trail 204 from the old road and following Trail 209 for the return to the recreation site. Sipsey trails receive moderate to heavy human use year-round. Wilderness camping, building campfires, hunting, and fishing are permitted. Horsepackers are allowed on designated trails.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Sipsey Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
(Known as the Eastern Wilderness Areas Act) - Public law 93-622 (1/3/1975) To further the purposes of the Wilderness Act by designating certain acquired lands for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System, to provide for study of certain additional lands for such inclusion, and for other purposes
Sipsey Wild and Scenic River and Alabama Addition Act of 1988 - Public law 100-547 (10/28/1988) To designate the Sipsey River as a component of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and to designate certain areas as additions to the Sipsey Wilderness, and for other purposes