Trail 206 snakes through a variety of terrain and passes by two of the Wilderness' better natural attractions – the rock formations known as Eye of the Needle and Ship Rock. Wildflowers adorn the creek-side portions of the trail during the spring. The low-lying sections along Thompson Creek and adjoining Whiteoak Hollow are popular camping areas.
The entire Sipsey Wilderness is gorgeous, but if you want a trail with lots of great spots to camp, this trail is fantastic. Don't expect bathrooms or drinking water to be nearby, but if you're looking to really get away from it all and do some primitive camping, this is a great place to go. You'll find fire pits at most of the sites that previous campers have made, but that's about it. Most of the time, except during dry spells, there are LOTS of waterfalls. Also lots of shallow places for the kids to play in the water. Watch for snakes and bring bug spray. If you want a good campground in Bankhead National Forest near Sipsey that is more modern with a bathhouse, picnic tables, etc, try Brushy Lake. But this trail is perfect for primitive camping.
Me and my 6 year old daughter hiked the trail this past Saturday, July 27, 2019. Had a great time. Definately be back
The hike in is not difficult. You do have to cross a stream, which was not as difficult for my 6’2 husband as it was for me at 5’2. The water was clear. The waterfall was beautiful and we found a quiet spot up the creek to camp.
Sipsey is one of the real jewels of Alabama for backpacking and you really feel like you are in another world while wandering though these woods. There are so many different trail loops and through each you can see lots of different streams and waterfalls. The major advantage to backpacking in Sipsey is that there are tons and tons of campgrounds. You hike along the river and almost every quarter mile you come across a set up campground and each is more beautiful than the last. We did a backpacking trip with friends here in the middle of the summer and it sure was hot. Luckily though the rivers made for a great way to cool off. Just make sure to check the weather in advance cause the rivers can be dried up the wrong time of year or you can get heavy rain. The weather in Alabama can change at any moment.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campground, I tested the Tentsile Connect Tree Tent. I got it as a graduation gift and it is one of the coolest tents I have ever used.
After using it both car camping and backpacking my favorite things about the tent are:
- Coolness factor: I mean who can say they never dreamed of living in a tree house! This is definitely the adult version of that dream. Every time I set up the tent I get tons of questions from people who are interested. It is such a cool experience to sleep off the ground while not being cramped up in a traditional hammock.
- Location flexibility: Because the tent can be setup anywhere you find 3 trees that are spaced far enough apart you don't have to worry about the ground not being flat. This is also useful if rain is in the forecast because we had no issues with ground water. Although it can be a challenge at first to learn the setup process after a few years with the tent it gets much easier. The key is just getting everything level and balanced.
- Comfort: When you get the tent set up right it is one of the most comfortable ways to camp. My wife and I each have our side of the tent and you don't have to worry about rocky ground.
This is my favorite place in Alabama. Best hiking in Alabama, possibly the southeast.
In the Sipsey wilderness, specifically on Thompson’s Creek Trail 206, there are several absolutely gorgeous campsites. As the trail follows Thompson’s Creek, it is next to all of the campsites. Water levels tend to be higher during the winter. The water is a beautiful turquoise. Most of the campsites have giant moss covered boulders all around, and cliffs in the background opposite the river. Most of the campsites have fire pits, and a few have some hand-made benches, usually from woven branches. So much to see.
About 3 miles from Thompson Trailhead is the exquisite campground number 4. This campground has about enough space for 2-3 tents or hammocks. Theres a beautiful large boulder rock that overlooks Thompson Creek you can relax on or have meals on. Easy access to the river for clean drinking water and so quiet! Not to mention you can see some beautiful stars from the large rock right next to the campground!
This is a huge campground. Right across the river about 3/4 mile from the trailhead. Easily accessible to fresh water. Has nice logs around a campfire pit if you plan on having a nice campfire. Plenty of space to set up a tent, or a hammock. Very quiet, you will not hear any neighboring campers.