Loop Trail? No
Type: Backcountry, Equestrian Trail, Fitness Trail, Greenway, Mountain Bike Trail, Nature Trail
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No Allowed Uses:
Bicycling (off pavement)
Dogs - On leash
Equestrian - Riding
Heritage and History
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Location: Approximately 6 miles northeast of downtown Huntsville, Alabama
From I-65, take I-565 E toward Huntsville (22.3 mi). Continue onto Hwy 72 E (1.9 mi). Make a U-turn at Moores Mill Road to go west on Hwy 72. When safe, get into the merge lane on the right (plenty of time). When the silver guard rail ends, be ready to turn right onto Chapman Mountain Nature Preserve’s paved entrance, located at 1263 Hwy 72 E, Huntsville, AL 35811. Drive through the gate and down the gravel road to the parking area at the bottom of the hill.
Chapman Mountain Nature Preserve, owned and managed by Land Trust of North Alabama, is a 459 acre property located just to the east of Huntsville. With a little over 3 miles of trails for visitors to explore from dawn to dusk daily, these trails are not just for hiking. Mountain bikers and horseback riders are also welcome and an 18-hole disc golf course offers another way to play outside. A large open-air pavilion at the trailhead provides space for gatherings as well as a cool, shady spot to rest after a hike.
Despite its convenient proximity to downtown Huntsville, Chapman Mountain remained an untouched woodland area for many years. Full of wildlife, hardwood trees, karst features, and a variety of interesting plant life, it was in danger of being purchased and developed. In 2001, the Land Trust began efforts to preserve the mountain and through the support of corporate and private donors Chapman Mountain Nature Preserve was opened in 2018.
A trail agreement with Alabama A&M University in 2018 offered access a 225 acre property owned by the university that adjoins the Land Trust’s northern preserve boundary. This agreement offers expanded opportunities for recreation and gives A&M students a convenient space to explore topics like forestry, wildlife, and other environmental or scientific studies. Students often contribute to development and maintenance of the preserve through service projects.
Offering diverse terrain from mountainside slopes to flat forest land, Chapman Mountain is an ideal outdoor recreation destination for visitors of all skill levels and interests. Local researchers have identified several occurrences of uncommon species all across the mountainside and the preserve also includes the mountain’s only flowing spring.
The trailhead offers ample parking and plenty of space to navigate for those hauling a horse trailer. Nearby is Terry Education Pavilion, which provides a space for Land Trust environmental education programs and serves as a community gathering space for large groups – such as public and private schools and other child-centered organizations (Boys & Girls Clubs, Scouts, YMCA, etc.).
The eastern side of the trail system – including Driskell and Chasco Trails – offers flat, easy hikes through pine groves and creek bottom. Within Driskell Trail, you’ll find Chapman Pines Disc Golf Course. Venturing uphill, Moonshine Trail begins from the parking lot and ends at a natural spring area rumored to have once been used for making moonshine (hence the name). From there, you can explore Whole Planet Trail, which features lots of red buckeye trees. Make a quick detour down Amphitheater Trail to see the area above the Moonshine Spring, where the unique geography resembles a natural amphitheater. Whole Planet connects you to Terry Trail, named for the family who donated the property. This one mile journey takes you to the northern end of the preserve and back again. Along the way you’ll see large hardwoods, mossy rocks, and an old roadway. As you hike, follow the Big Tree Tour on Terry Trail for an educational guide to the tree species found on the property featuring some of the preserves largest trees. Currently under construction, Bulldog Trail utilizes Alabama A&M property to adventure north.
Land Trust trails are maintained by staff with lots of volunteer support. Regular trail care work days are held at least twice a month at Land Trust nature preserves. The location for these work days is determined based on need. Visitors, volunteers, and staff report trail problems and the Land Manager prioritizes projects and allocates resources to address them. Preserve rules are posted on trailhead kiosks to provide information such as: opening hours (dawn to dusk), permitted and prohibited uses (i.e. no motorized vehicles, no bikes 24 hours after rainfall, no hunting, camping, etc.), behaviors expected of all visitors (i.e. leave no trace, stay on marked trails, no trail modifications, etc.). Seasonal tips are also posted on trailhead kiosks which include recommendations to encourage visitors to use caution and enjoy trails in a responsible way (examples: bring a buddy/map/water, be aware of seasonal hazards – ticks, snakes, etc.). Visitors are instructed to notify local law enforcement if they encounter suspicious activity. The Land Trust also maintains relationships with preserve neighbors who help monitor activity on the property and in some cases these partners also handle regular maintenance tasks – mowing, trail building/maintenance, litter cleanup – in coordination with Land Trust staff. Local groups, businesses, and individuals can adopt trails through out Trail Care Partners program in order to provide additional maintenance and monitoring. All trails are well marked and a trail map is provided on the trailhead kiosk but can also be downloaded from landtrustnal.org.
Width: 24 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil
Secondary Surface: Boardwalk
Grass or Vegetation
Average Grade: 4%
Maximum Grade: 15%
Elevation Low Point: 803
Elevation High Point: 1,081
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available
Year Designated: 2021
Supporting Webpages and DocumentsWebsite: Chapman Mountain Nature Preserve - landtrustnal.org
For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.
Land Trust of North Alabama
2707 Artie St SW Suite 6
Huntsville, AL 35805
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