Williams Woods Nature Preserve Hike

May 14, 2005

Having just received my new Garmin GPSMAP 60CS earlier in the week, I decided to field test it by taking it on a hike to the Williams Woods Nature Preserve in Madison County.  We had a little trouble finding the trailhead, as apparently Madison County has renumbered its county roads (and small roads don't appear on the base map of my GPS).  Specifically, the directions here indicate that the trailhead is on CR 172, but it is actually on CR 5575.  There are a few other things you should know before setting out for Williams Woods.  First, the county road is gravel and clay, entirely uphill, and looks to get muddy after a rain.  Moreover, at least when we went, the trailhead "parking lot" was buried in a sea of waist-high grass (see the picture below).  In retrospect, I definitely wouldn't recommend going to the trailhead in a sports car, as I did.  Now, I wasn't going to be turned back by a little mud and grass after having driven that far, but the better plan for this hike involves a truck or SUV...  Second, like the road and parking area, the trail itself is pretty rough (at least at this time of year) and at times hard to follow (look for the occasional blue blaze).  You will have to wade though a lot of high grass, push past some briars, and find creative ways around or over a few very large trees that have fallen across the trail.  Third, you will definitely get a few ticks this time of year.  Don't wear shorts like I did.  Finally, I should warn you that this hike is fairly steep.  The trailhead starts out at about 1800 feet and peaks at just over 2300 feet on Mack Mountain.  For the last couple hundred feet up, we were closely watching the altimeter on my GPS in anticipation of the sweet return of level hiking.  Don't let the above deter you though, it is a nice hike and a good workout.  I highly recommend taking the short spur trail to the 'Nars.  The view is very pretty, though likely even better when the foliage is less dense.

Map of the Williams Woods Nature Preserve


Lillian Falls

More of Lillian Falls

Still more of Lillian Falls

Small bluff near Heter Falls

Michael, watching his step on slippery rocks

Michael, getting up after falling down anyway

Heter Falls closeup

More of Heter Falls

You guessed it, still more of Heter Falls

Looking up at a bluff near Heter Falls

Can you find the dead armadillo?

There it is.

Ye olde Langley Homesite

Michael, on top of the 'Nars

Me, on top of the 'Nars

Me, on top of the 'Nars, with a rare smile

Two in a row, wow!

The 'Nars

Looking out across the valley from the 'Nars

A final view from the 'Nars

One of the small ponds near the end of the trail

In retrospect, I wouldn't recommend driving up here in a sports car like mine unless you sprang for the optional mower attachment...

Log cabin near the trailhead

Old barn on the Williams Homesite

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