By Scott Morris
New life is bursting from the dead leaves of the forest floor at Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve in Colbert County.
Since early March, different types of colorful wildflowers have been blooming at one of the best natural getaways in north Alabama. I’m no botanist, but I believe the flowers I saw Easter weekend included bloodroot, coreopsis, mayapple and spring beauty.
Jim and Faye Lacefield — who purchased, preserved and oversee the property — have given a special gift to nature lovers. About 10,000 visitors from across the United States hiked through the canyon in 2015, but with 713 wild acres and more than 15 miles of trails, solitude still abounds.
Sights at Cane Creek range from waterfalls to scenic overlooks to the clear creek that carves its way through the canyon floor. But Boulder Garden is the best feature in the spring. Wildflowers sprout from the tops of the boulders, painting them red, yellow, white, violet, crimson, white and blue.
The preserve has primitive restrooms positioned along the trails as well as benches to rest your feet. The trails range from moderate to strenuous. If you hike down into the canyon, your heart will be pounding on the steep return to the parking lot.
From Tuscumbia, take U.S. 72 and turn left at the Colbert County Farmers’ Co-Op onto the access road. Go down the hill to Frankfort Road. Turn left, go 7.25 miles. After passing Piney Grove Church of Christ on the right, go one-fourth mile and turn right on Loop Road (Colbert 41). Go one-tenth of a mile and veer left onto the first gravel road. Follow the signs to the preserve.
Thanks for a great gift, Jim and Faye.
Don’t be surprised to see wildlife, too. On my most recent visit, a wild turkey buzzed over me like a helicopter.
The preserve parking lot is at 251 Loop Road, about 10 miles southwest of Tuscumbia. The park is open every day from sunrise to sunset, and admission is free. Sign in at the kiosk beside the Lacefields’ house, and borrow one of the maps. The friendly couple may come out and chat with you, which is an educational treat.
From the kiosk, I recommend taking the waterfall trail, then the point trail and the rim trail. Then descend into the canyon and head for Boulder Garden, on your right off the main canyon trail.