Sipsey Wilderness – Borden Creek Trail
Length & Difficulty: 2.7 miles, easy.
Elevation Change: 150 feet maximum.
What’s Special: High cliffs, cave passage, biodiversity.
Topo Maps: Bee Branch USGS 7.5 degree quad.
To get to the north terminus of the trail, drive to the town of Double Springs. From Double Springs take Highway 33 north for approximately 12 miles to the intersection with Cranal Road (Lawrence County Highway 6). Turn left onto Cranal Road and drive 0.7 miles to the intersection with Bunyan Hill Road (FS 224). This will be a gravel road. Turn right onto Bunyan Hill Road and drive 2.6 miles to the bridge over Borden Creek (the road ends here). There will be a small parking area to your left just before you cross the bridge.
If you’re beginning the hike at the southern end of the trail, follow Highway 6 till it crosses the Sipsey River. Look for the turnoff to the Sipsey River Recreation Area, which is the trail terminus.
Located in the heart of Bankhead National Forest, the Sipsey Wilderness is the #1 backpacking destination in the State of Alabama. It’s easy to see why. With nearly 26,000 acres of land it’s the largest wilderness area in the state. That makes it a great destination for camping and backpacking trips.
The Borden Creek trail (Trail #200) leads down one of the prettiest canyons of this unique natural area. At one point it actually leads though a cave to bypass a cliff along Borden Creek.
From Bunyan Hill Road the trail begins at the parking area and proceeds south along the banks of Borden Creek. After 130 feet, you will reach the trail register station. Be sure to register as you enter so the Forest Service can obtain an accurate visitor count, as well as find you in case of emergency. At 0.1 miles, the trail crosses a watercourse and begins to climb. At 0.15 miles the trail levels out along an old logging road. At 0.25 miles the trail descends and becomes a foot trail. At 0.35 miles, the trail crosses another watercourse and soon joins an old logging road.
At the 0.50 mile mark you will pass under a large rock overhang and reach a beautiful waterfall (the falls only run during the wet season). Go down a steep descent and enter a cave at the base of the falls. This cave is about 60 feet long and becomes narrow as you go into it. At about 20 feet into the cave, you will pass a hole to your right which admits light. You will continue into the cave, passing through a fairly tight section, and exit at the top of a wide ledge between the cliffs and Borden Creek. You will not have to crawl to pass through the cave. However, it does become narrow enough that you will need to take off your backpack and pull or push it through the cave.
Beyond the cave the trail leads along the base of a high cliff. This is a particularly beautiful section of the hike with the clear waters of Borden Creek and other high cliffs across the creek. Beyond the area the trail climbs slightly and, at 0.65 miles, bears right and down along stone steps. It soon enters the mouth of a small cove. In wet weather there will be a waterfall at the head of this cove.
At 0.75 miles, there is large cove across Borden Creek. During winter you can see and hear an impressive 60 foot waterfall in this cove. At 0.80 miles the trail passes through a grove of native holly beneath a stand of large hemlocks.
At 0.85 miles, the trail crosses a ravine with sandy banks. At 0.90 miles the trail again follows an old road bed along the creek bank. At 1.15 miles the valley widens as Borden Creek bends to the east. From here until the creek flows into the Sipsey River the valley is considerably wider.
At 1.35 miles the trail enters a broad, flat area where a fairly large side creek joins Borden Creek from the east. This area is spacious and well suited for camping.
At 1.4 miles the trail reaches the side creek and crosses at the rapids. After crossing the creek you will climb the hillside and bear to the right. At 1.5 miles the trail runs along a hillside above a large bend where Borden Creek turns south. At 1.6 miles the trail dips back into a small cove and crosses another small creek. Once across this creek, the trail winds back up into a pretty grove of hemlocks and joins an old road bed.
At 1.7 miles the trail passes through another grove of hemlocks. At 1.8 miles the trail bends left and enters a small cove where it crosses another watercourse. At 2.0 miles you will cross a steep ravine.
At 2.1 miles the trial intersects with Trail #209 (the Sipsey River Trail). To the right, trail 209 fords Borden Creek and then heads upstream along for another 8.4 miles into the heart of the Sipsey Wilderness. You will turn left and follow the trail another 0.6 miles downstream till it reaches the Sipsey River Recreation Area.