203 - Lookout Trail
Note: map is outdated but still useful (see below)
Update as of autumn, 2009: The northern part of the trail has been rerouted so
as not to cross Borden Creek. Instead it veers to the northeast, connecting
with FS Road 208 about 1.6 miles from highway AL 33.
We will update the map as soon as possible. But the southern 90% is accurate.
The difficulty here is finding the trail. It starts out okay
from the trailheads but deteriorates after awhile. As a result, 203
is not hiked very much (and thus is hard to find and thus ...). But
if one perseveres, there is some nice hiking here, particularly at the
Note that Wild South has taken up maintenance of the trail and
the Forest Service has installed some new flagging. So things are not as bad as
they once were.
The trail runs between the
Borden Trailhead in the south where
it conjoins trail 207 near the trailhead.
The northern end is at the relocated
about 1.6 miles from AL 33 on FS Road 208. A small trail marker sign
indicates the spot. (This point is about a half a mile southeast of where the
trail used to terminate.)
From the south, the trail snakes up and down hills and hollers at least half a
dozen times. You are routed up to the bluff and down again to the valley. The
views of the forest can be outstanding, with the large beech trees of particular
The trail then straightens out in a northerly direction through pine woods and
here is where it is most difficult to follow. Look for colored plastic tape
hanging from trees for clues.
When you get near Borden Creek, the trail turns off to the
east. Follow the flagging. You do not cross Borden Creek but there is a
small (usually) feeder stream to ford. The trail takes a 90 degree turn to the
left just before that crossing. There is another 90 degree turn, this time
to the right, as you approach the road. If you miss it, you won't be too far
from where you need to be. And if you are worried about the warning signs,
the shooting range has not been a "danger" since it closed some years back.
Waterfalls are minimal but geologists may enjoy outcrops both of the ubiquitous
sandstone and the less common limestone. The route passes next to a number of
sinkholes as well.
Given the underutilization of the trail, it is not surprising that there are
few obviously ready-for-use campsites. And the southern end tends to emphasize
the steepness of the terrain, not its flat spots. Yet water is available and one
could make a go of it.
Trail 203 could be combined with trail
207 - Braziel Creek to make a loop by hiking along the
unpaved FS 208 road between the
Gum Pond Trailhead and the
The distance would be a little less than 3 miles and scenery is actually quite
good. It is probably easier to walk east and south from the Gum Pond Trailhead
than the other way around since the road tends to descend more than ascend in