The Huntsville Land Trust is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving nature within Madison County. The Trust acquires land by buying it or encouraging donations from property owners. Monte Sano is their biggest project; over the last ten years they’ve acquired the majority of the land on the west face of the mountain.
The Land Trust performs a valuable service; you need only look at the houses built on nearby Round Top Mountain to get an idea how the slopes around Huntsville might look without their work. The Trust needs members, by the way. You can reach them through the Land Trust Web Page.
Land Trust lands are open for public use. A number of trails cross the Trust’s land and connect with the Monte Sano State Park trail network.
Take I-565 into Huntsville and take the Washington St. exit. Turn left from the exit. Turn right at next traffic light onto Pratt Avenue. Follow Pratt east toward Monte Sano; the road will narrow to two lanes and change names to Bankhead Parkway. Follow Bankhead past the intersection with Toll Gate Road, then begin looking for the Land Trust parking lot to your right. The parking lot should be marked.
Spring through Fall
Huntsville Land Trust
P.O. Box 43
Huntsville, AL 35804
Best Trail: The Bluff Line Trail
Difficulty: This is an easy trail, with a moderate stretch on the return leg.
Finding the Trailhead: All Land Trust trails begin at the Land Trust parking lot. Be careful leaving the parking lot; since many trails start here, it’s easy to get on the wrong one. Walk to the far end of the parking lot, past two picnic tables. A gravel trailhead quickly branches into several trails. Keep to the right at the first trail crossing, then keep to the left. A sign just past this first crossing will direct you to Bluffline trail. Unfortunately, none of the trails are marked with blazes, so the sign doesn’t help much.
The Hike: The Land Trust property includes a series of trails, some of the trails are fairly steep and rocky. You may want to avoid the Old Railroad Bed trail; it has a reputation as a rocky walk. The Bluffline Trail is the easiest trail and the most pleasant overall. This trail crosses several streams and makes a good hike for kids. Combined with the Waterline and Alms House trails, the Bluffline Trail forms a loop about four miles long (The loop is marked in red on the trail map). If you’re taking small children, we recommend you leave out the Waterline and Alms House and just do the Bluffline part of the trail.
You’ll cross a creek within 50 yards of the trailhead, just past the trail sign. A short branch of the Old Railroad Bed trail leads to the creek and is worth a detour. The Old Railroad Bed is just what it’s name implies: the remains of the hundred year-old Monte Sano Railroad, which took guests to the old Monte Sano hotel. If you look carefully, you can see the remains of a bridge where the trail crosses the creek.
Double back to the Bluffline Trail. The gravel part of this trail ends quickly after the creek and turns into a nice walk in the woods. Another stream crosses the trail after about a mile. Some side trails lead to access points further down the stream, if you’re interested in exploring it.
The trail continues for another mile before coming to a three-way intersection. If you continue straight the trail soon turns and climbs to the top of the mountain. This part of the trail is not as nice as the part covered so far, so we suggest you turn right onto the Waterline Trail.