Chief Ladiga Trail, AL
- 5-mile round trip – Start at Woodland Park and travel Northeast to Jacksonville High School and return.
- 10-mile round trip – Start at Elwell Park and travel to Jacksonville State University. Have lunch in Jacksonville and return.
- 20-mile round trip – Start at Woodland Park and travel Northeast to Germania Springs Park. Take a picnic lunch and lunch in the shade, then return. For a side trip, stop in Jacksonville and sightsee.
- 40-mile round trip – Start in Piedmont at Eubanks Welcome Center and travel to Woodland Park. Make side trip South on Weaver Road to Highway 21, have lunch and return.
- The Full Trail Experience, 65+ miles – Start in Woodland Park, travel East to Alabama-Georgia line and return.
If you’ve never been to the Chief Ladiga Trail you’re probably wondering where’s the best place to start out? Below are four suggested outings on the trail. The trail east of Piedmont is a must-see; the mountain scenery is spectacular. You’ll also get to watch the trail construction proceed through Cleburne County. Another area that is very scenic is the Little Tallaseehatchee Creek just west of Jacksonville. You can see the creek on the “first walk” outing below.
Your First Walk on the Chief Ladiga Trail
An old warehouse just west of Jacksonville still has loading docks once served by the railroad.
For this 3.6-mile walk we are going to start at the new Jacksonville High School (point #4 on our map). Bring a water bottle with you, as there are no amenities available at this trailhead. Park in the school lot and take the spur trail directly across the street. When you reach the main trail take a left and proceed to the southwest.
After only a few hundred yards you enter a forest cut that is built up high above the Little Tallaseehatchee Creek. If you walk quietly you might see some wildlife way down below in the creek bottom. As you finish the 1.8-mile trip out, you will pass fields of hay that are home to many rabbits and birds. The rabbits almost wait on you to walk by.
When you reach Warren Road you’ll see an old warehouse that was served by the railroad that once used this lovely corridor. On the way home if you are careful you might just see the same rabbit that was waiting for you to pass by earlier. This is the end of this walk. Turnaround and return to your car at Jacksonville High School.
A 12.5-mile ride with the rabbits
This 12.5-mile roundtrip starts at Woodland Park in Anniston (point #6 on our map). We suggest you start this expedition early in the morning while the dew is still on the ground. No need to pack a lunch. Just bring a couple water bottles.
You are at the end of the trail here so there is only one direction you can start out. Head to the northeast on the trail. Just after leaving the park there is a slight grade across the first bridge before entering a lovely forest heading into the city of Weaver. There are several shops and restaurants in Weaver that should be saved for the trip home. As you leave Weaver you will pass field after field of rye hay that provides shelter for many wild creatures. The rabbits will wait on the trail till you are right on top of them. If you glide silently by on your bike they may not even move. There are also many species of birds that don’t seem to notice trail users as they pass by.
Before long you will enter the town of Jacksonville and see buildings that once depended on the railroad for their livelihood. Just past them at 6.25 miles out from your start is the campus of Jacksonville State University. Straight down the dirt path from where you stand is the new fraternity row.
Head back southwest to Woodland Park and make sure you dodge all the bunnies. Stop for lunch at one of the restaurants in Weaver. The Weaver Station Café comes highly recommended. Check out the interesting shops in town before pedaling the 1.6-miles back to Woodland Park.
An afternoon walk or skate with a picnic
It’s Sunday afternoon and cool, so let’s go for a walk or skate with a picnic. We will start at the parking lot on SR-204 in Jacksonville (point #3 on our map). Pack a backpack with lunch because we are heading northeast to Germania Springs Park for a picnic. This will be a 3.2-mile roundtrip.
Just 1.6 miles northeast on the trail from Jacksonville you’ll arrive at Germania Springs Park. The park has many picnic tables available for trail lovers to use. Some of them are sheltered just in case you get caught in an afternoon shower. Restrooms and water are also available. There might be a little league ball game going on in the park if you are lucky. The kids are always fun to watch. When lunch is finished and cleaned up head back southwest to Jacksonville.
Your car is parked on SR-204 right across from the campus of Jacksonville State University. If you have any energy left why not wander around the campus and check out the historic old buildings and the gorgeous new ones too.