Alabama Rocks & Forest

November 26th, 2007

Last week, one of my cousins was kind enough to take me hiking through the woods around Borden Creek in Bankhead National Forest. Despite torrential downpours while we were hiking (thankfully no lightning) we had a heck of a good time exploring around.

Sipsey Wilderness Area

The obvious feature of the landscape that’s impossible to miss are huge rock outcroppings lining both sides of the creek. Due to the heavy rain, we tried to stay close to these rocks to gain some refuge from the weather.

Sipsey Wilderness Area

There are some massive boulders throughout the forest, dwarfing many trees, and creating large tunnels between them. The shade of these rocks appears to prevent most undergrowth, besides some mosses and ferns, from really taking over the forest floor.

Sipsey Wilderness Area

Below is one of the more extended pathways between rocks. This pathway arches around to the left, and goes for another 50-75 feet. I imagine that these large pieces of rock broke off of one another, and shifted apart over time.
Limestone Pathway

As I mentioned, many mosses line the rocks and tress along Borden Creek. They really add a nice character to the rocks, and with the freshly fallen autumn leaves lining the ground, there were some really beautiful landscapes.

Sipsey Wilderness Area

We weren’t just enjoying the landscape; we found a few other creatures out in the rain that day. A box turtle was slowly creeping along the rocks, but refused to pose for a picture despite several attempts waiting for him to come out of his shell. We saw plenty of these silver-dollar-sized snails grazing on the moss of the rocks.


Did I mention that there were some pretty scenes in the forest?

Sipsey Wilderness Area

Did I also not mention how huge these rocks were? This rock wall below extended at least 4-5 stories tall. The rock itself is full of many indentations and crevices that I presume are weather worn, even though they look slightly volcanic in some areas.

Sipsey Wilderness Area

I was amazed how many plants managed to find life by burrowing deep into the rock and it’s cracks. This tree below somehow managed to root itself in the rock, along with plenty of ferns, holly, moss, and countless other plants.

Tree Rooted in Rock

Next time I’m down in the area, I intend to find a dryer day to explore this area more significantly. Supposedly, there is a waterfall along this creek, however, I doubt that it would have been anything fantastic on this trip, as drought left the creek many feet below normal levels. As an example, my cousin claims to have kayaked down this waterway, but when we were there, it was barely 6 inches in some places.

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Alabama Creek

November 24th, 2007

We spent Thanksgiving week down in Alabama with family, spending most of the time at a cabin within Bankhead National Forest. This is a beautiful area with plenty of creeks, forest, and limestone outcroppings all around. Even despite a record summer drought, the creeks, while low, still had some water in them.


Along one area of the creek, there was a patch of these really interesting looking reeds. They’re hollow reeds, that somewhat resemble bamboo, except for the fact that they don’t have any leaves.


Each node has a white section, encompassed by black. I have no idea whether they’re native or introduced.

Reed Node

Some of the stalks had flower heads on them, but I didn’t actually see any in bloom, so I’m unsure whether these are truly flowers, or whether they’re just seed pods. If anyone can identify this plant for me, I’d really appreciate it! (edit: Thanks to commenter Kelley for identifying this as Equisetum sp., or more commonly known as “horsetail.”)

Reed Flower Head

Most of the leaves had already fallen from this area of the forest, with the exception of some late beech trees. There are many pine and spruce trees throughout the forest, but they’re not shown here.

Creek and Forest

The creek contained many rocks completely covered in moss. Creek banks, and even some tree trunks were also quite covered in moss. I didn’t bring any home with me to try out in the aquarium, however.

Mossy Rock

Walking along one of the trails, I nearly stepped on this Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis). I think he was just as startled as I was because he went into his brown coloration, and stood perfectly still hoping not to be seen.

Anolis carolinensis

I took advantage of his stoic pose to take quite a few pictures of him. Our family tells us that these lizards are seen all over the place, and are quite common to their hollow.

Anolis carolinensis

Not in the creek, but in a puddle near the cabin, this little salamander was staying moist. He was only about 3-4 inches long, and quite active.


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