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Piper Interpretive Trail

Cahaba River NWR, Alabama

The Piper Interpretive Trail, a 2.5 mile roundtrip out and back trail within Alabama’s Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge, follows what was an old mine railroad to reach a rocky ridgeline with two platforms overlooking the Cahaba River.

To access the trailhead, make your way to the gravel parking lot located off Bibb County Road 24 within the Refuge—once there, you will see an informational kiosk(in pretty bad shape on our visit) and a trail with a metal railing. Follow the path with the railing, not the gravel road that heads uphill to the left.

The trail makes its way into the forest, crosses a footbridge over a runoff area, eventually passing an interpretive sign about birds at mile 0.2—keep walking to reach a sitting bench 0.5 mile into the hike.

A stand of pine, mostly loblolly planted to replace the longleaf that were clearcut years ago, make for a beautiful canopy and visually appealing section of the trail—the fallen needles provide soft footing and make the peaceful forest even more quiet. .

You’ll pass another interpretive sign, this one about the local reptiles and amphibians, and another bench at mile 0.8—just a little further, at mile 1.2, you will find a side trail off to the right that leads steeply downhill to the first overlook(unless you miss it like we did lol).

After enjoying the view, or hiking right passed it like we did, you will cross a second bridge over a seasonal stream at mile 1.25—from there, the trail climbs up the ridge to the final overlook at mile 1.4. From the platform you can see the Cahaba River far below, dotted with clumps of Cahaba Lilies—if you’re hiking when the lilies are blooming, be sure to get a closer look at the delicate and rare flowers. (See our NBH Tip for more info)

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