My family and I like to day hike. We have a lot of favorite trails, but our absolute favorites are Cutchenmine and Daniel trails located in Guntersville State Park in Alabama. They both have qualities that any hiker is looking forward to, but offer different things. A trip to either of these trails is well worth the drive and effort.
Cutchenine Trail begins just off the road leading into Guntersville State Park. There is parking available on the side of the road, but really only room for two cars just at the trail head. However, about a half mile down the road is the information station (and bathrooms) with plenty more parking.
The hike begins by crossing over a bridge over a small creek. When the water is up, you can see small fish swimming around in the pools or, on rare occasions, crayfish or turtles lurking about the shallows. Once you’ve crossed over the bridge, the trail weaves in a snake like way along the lake’s edge. At a few points along the trail you can walk just a few steps from the trail to get to the lake itself, though it is not a good place for swimming due to the natural debris of sticks and leaves.
There are a couple of places where a small stream runs through the trail, but unless there has been heavy rainfall, these areas are easily passable. About halfway through the hike, there is a large group of natural rock formations. This is our favorite place to stop for a rest or a snack.
The trail is 2.5 miles one way, but since it does not connect to any other trails, once you get to the end (which has a special surprise), you have to go back the same way you came (unless you have a boat), making the total hike 5 miles long. This end of the trail opens up into a clearing with small natural rock formations and ferns. This is the best spot to stop at for a picnic. There is sand here, and a great place for the children to play. Another creek runs through this area and opens up into the lake, making this area also reachable by boat. Looking to the right is the lake, but looking up to the left you can see more natural rock formations and small rapids and waterfalls.
Cutchenmine Trail is significant in the winter months because it is the best place to see nesting bald eagles. The State Park offers directed tours during the peak months of December – February. Bring your binoculars for this hike!
Daniel Trail, though smaller, is also another great trail to visit. It does connect to other trails, so its possible to actually plan out a entire day’s hike with Daniel as a starting point. The most significant aspect of Daniel Trail is the wildlife. We have traveled down this trail numerous times and have never failed to see some sort of wild life. We have never failed to see deer, but also spotted along this trail have been turtles, a skunk, a raccoon, a small and harmless snake, and I’ve been told that a fox has been spotted frolicking along the trail.
The trail head is right across the street from the general store and camp grounds so parking isn’t a problem, and bathrooms are nearby as well.