I have been looking at my maps recently looking for places to explore outside of the normally used areas in Sipsey Wilderness/Bankhead Forest. My hiking/camping buddy and I decided to explore the Davis Creek area south of Cranal Road. We picked a Forest Service Road that we thought would take us almost to where we wanted to camp. Once we arrived, we discovered the road was blocked not far into the forest, so we would have to hike in. This wasn’t a problem for me as I normally pack pretty light, but my buddy had brought everything but the kitchen sink! He carries it, so he can bring whatever he likes…. I was very grateful for his heavy pack later!
When we arrived during the late morning hours we began the walk in. There was a very good roadbed that we followed down the hill to the creek. The hill was pretty steep in places so I understand why it was blocked – it would be tough for most vehicles to climb the dirt road (especially when it was wet). There were also several birdhouses placed along the road which I found odd. Birdhouses in the middle of a National Forest? I assumed there was more to the story, but I wasn’t aware of one. Once we arrived at the creek, the water was VERY clear – even more clear than other areas of Bankhead/Sipsey we have visited on previous trips. We were also surprised that storm debris was caught in branches over 12 feet above the current water level. The streambed was also composed of shale/slate which is very different from the other areas of Bankhead I had visited.
We hiked upstream and found a suitable camping spot, set up, and ate lunch. After lunch, we went upstream exploring. We knew there were several waterfalls in this area and it was our mission to find them. Since the creek scenery was boring, we climbed up to the bluff and followed it upstream. There are still old roads visible through this area so we followed some of them and even found the remains of an old vehicle. Continuing upstream, we found a total of 3 waterfalls before heading back to camp. This is an area that I will have to explore further as we didn’t get to cover each off branch of Davis Creek as we initially planned.
We finally reached camp just before sundown and rested a few mintues before cooking. This is where I was thankful for my friend’s heavy pack! We had deer tenderloin wrapped in bacon cooked in an iron skillet. They were delicious! After a full day of hiking and a full belly, I was soon asleep! The low was 28 that night and I slept great! After we woke up, we had bacon and scrambled eggs with cheese once again cooked by my friend in an iron skillet! I did share my coffee with him, though.
After cleaning up and packing everything it was time to leave. We dreaded climbing the hill that was such a breeze on the way into the area. We made it to the car and safely home – another great trip. I plan on going back and exploring more of this area.