Sunday, November 15, 2015

The LBWCC Recreational Trail - an alternative way through Andalusia

View of the Evans Barnes Golf Course and the Lurleen B. Wallace Community College Recreational Trail (foreground) as seen from the Andalusia, AL, Walmart parking lot.

"Florida or Bust" - Days 45 through 48

Andalusia, Alabama is a quiet southern town surrounded by beautiful farm and ranch country.  Its southern charm is infectious.  Hiking through here will be a pleasure no matter what route you take.  I chose to scout a route that was different from the one suggested by the Alabama Hiking Trail Society, and in doing so I found that I could include a true gem of a one-mile off-road trail in my thru-hike.

My logistics, traveling with two vehicles, favored a route that included the big Walmart in Andalusia.  And to my delight, this Walmart happens to be strategically located right next to Lurleen B. Wallace  Community College Andalusia Campus, and to the 1.8 mile Recreational and interpretive nature trail (tree species are labeled with signs) that loops around campus and around the Evans Barnes public golf course that is included on campus.

As you can see from the photo above, the views from the trail along the golf course are 'killer'.  Here are a few more views of and from the trail.

This off-road respite lasted about a mile, but it made the four day road walk I'm reporting in this post all worthwhile.  North of Andalusia I walked quiet roads along the 'official' route, passed through the little town of Dozier and down past Straughn School.  Then just before reaching US 29 I deviated to go down Sutton Road.  I've prepared a map of my route (in orange) and including the 'official' route (in green).  The official route also uses a bit of off-road trail through Robinson Park, but it's much shorter.

I've divided the above map into three more readable pieces:

Here's an areal photo view of the detail around the LBWCC Recreational Trail and the adjacent Wal-Mart parking lot.  The off road portion is in yellow dots, with the less attractive part of the 1.8 mile LBWCC loop trail, which goes around the sports complex, indicated in orange dots.

On the south side of Andalusia there are some beautiful homes and huge farms.  I met Tammy Wiggins Holt there, on Beaver Dam Road - her husband farms several thousand acres.  I passed a gorgeous cattle ranch with expansive pastures, several huge ponds, and a true work of art over their entrance gate.  There's even a tornado included in this sheet metal art work.  Can you spot it?

Then I really got out in the country.  The last mile of Bay Branch Road is not paved, and goes through a sand-clay canyon.

I spotted a pond turtle -- Eastern Painted Turtle, to be specific -- trying to get between ponds, so had to disturb him briefly to get a shot of his true colors, since his back was so featureless

And I ended that day with a spectacular sunset.  I will miss Andalusia!

Here are a set of four maps from EveryTrail trip reports.  They include quite a few more photos taken along the way.

Florida or Bust - Day 45, Hiking along CR 77 in Crenshaw County at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Alabama

Florida or Bust - Day 46, CR 77 to Dozier, AL at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Alabama

Florida or Bust - Day 47: Dozier to Andalusia at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Alabama

Florida or Bust - Day 48: Andalusia to the Conecuh trail at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Alabama

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