Lake Martin is one of the most popular lakes in Alabama. Whether you are fishing for catfish and striped bass, power boating with friends, enjoying water time with waterboarding and swimming or just lounging on a dock, there is plenty to do.
For those lake locals and visitors who want to experience all that Lake Martin area has to offer, there are many possibilities. The area includes hiking trails, parks and a horseback riding facility. So, if you’re looking for more ways to enjoy the lake, be sure to check out these options.
For those who are avid hikers or casual walkers, the hiking trails surrounding Lake Martin are sure to spark interest. Lake Martin has numerous trails in the surrounding area that offer varying levels of difficulty and plenty of beautiful views.
The Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trails are a favorite among nature lovers and are on Overlook Drive along the southeast shore of the Lake Martin Dam. This trail system is comprised of a unique alpine area full of plant life, several brooks and creeks, and plenty of animals, including deer and American bald eagles. There are looped trails that range from one to seven miles, and are all easy to moderate difficulty with at least four miles of trail bordering the shoreline.
The more difficult hiking system is the Smith Mountain Alpine Trails. These trails are the highest elevation around Lake Martin and home to a 90-foot fire lookout tower. The tower and Smith Mountain are owned by Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association (CRATA) and have undergone plenty of restoration and safety improvements since its decommissioning in 1980. Now, the tower is a great spot for family and friends to enjoy a breathtaking view.
Read more about how the tower was restored with the help of CRATA and Alabama Power. Visit www.crata.org for more information.
The Russell Forest Trails are some of the longest and most versatile paths surrounding Lake Martin, offering more than 80 miles for hiking, equestrian and biking use. Due to the varying level of difficulty from easy to extremely difficult, trail use requires registration in order to ensure and confirm the safety of participants.
The last notable trail system is the Wind Creek State Park Trails. There are five main hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty. These trails are multiuse with some trails for equestrian use. Unlike many of the other trails, these paths offer picnic areas, restrooms and playgrounds for a fee of $1 to $3.
If you’re not an avid hiker and prefer more leisurely strolls, there are a couple of parks surrounding Lake Martin that are sure to please.
D.A.R.E. Park is a great location to stroll around and enjoy the outdoors. With its sandy beach harbor, pavilions full of shade, picnic areas and grills, public restrooms, amphitheater and docks, this 30-acre park is a great place to spend time with family. To reserve park pavilions, contact the park office at 256-825-8386 or the Lake Martin Shoreline Management Office at 256-825-0053.
Wind Creek State Park is one of the largest parks surrounding Lake Martin, spanning about 1,500 acres. The park runs along the shores of Lake Martin and hosts over 626 campground sites, with 144 of those being on the waterfront. Other facilities in the park include a marina, camp store, fishing pier, hiking trails, playgrounds and picnic areas with tables and grills. The park also offers cabins for weekend getaways.
Locals and visitors also can try out horseback riding. Animal lovers are sure to enjoy The Stables at Russell Crossroads. The 8,000-square-foot equestrian center is home to several prized horses and offers riding through the Russell Forest Trail System. Try a morning ride and enjoy all that the Lake Martin area has to offer. For more information, visit wwww.russelllandsonlakemartin.com.
– by Missy Johnson