What is it? The “Big Tree” is the largest Poplar Tree in the state of Alabama. It’s estimated to be over 500 years old. It is HUGE! This tree is a traditional Yellow Poplar (not one of the new hybrids, lol),
Where? It’s in the heart of the Sipsey Wilderness at “about” and I do mean “about” 34.3283944 -87.4449572
Trail Length? Depends on on which trail you take. From the Borden Creek Trailhead: Around 11 miles out and back. From Thompson Trail Head 8.5 miles out and back. From Brazil Creek TH: 10.5 miles out and back. From Sipsey Rec Parking area, it looks to be over 12 miles out and back when I measure and there are varying lengths recorded by other people on the internet, therefore I’m going to hike it in 2019 (God willing) and let you know!
How hard are we talking? One should definitely plan on a day hike and starting early. Thompson is said to be the easiest route. Borden isn’t hard either. Hiking from Sipsey Rec is rated as moderate on All Trails.
Borden Creek TH: Park and take the obvious trail next to the kiosk. It’s an old road bed and it’s plenty wide. Cross the cement bridge over Borden Creek and go straight uphill. This is trail 224. Horses also use this trail. Follow 224 for a few miles until you come to a fork in the trail clearly labeled 204. This will have you turn left onto 204. Less than a mile after you’ve turned onto 204, there will be a fork in the trail. GO RIGHT at the fork. This will take you to Big Tree and you’ll hear water within minutes. *****Most of the trail is on a ridge top and there was a forest fire several years back that left significant damage. It’s an ugly stretch of woods, basically. It’s a very simple route, but not the shortest or the prettiest.
Thompson TH: Park at the Thompson Trailhead Parking area and walk across the bridge. There is a small kiosk in front of you containing a map and other information. Follow the trail along Thompson Creek taking 206 and hit 209, then 204 and it will take you to the Big Tree. This is an easy and beautiful hike according to people I’ve spoken with who have taken this route. Hemlocks and water along the way as well as other note-worthy things to see.
From Braziel TH: Start on 223, take a left onto – 208, turn right onto – 224 then left on- 204. When 204 splits, take the path to the right. You literally need a map and make sure you study it before you leave. I’ve never been this route and it doesn’t look particularly appealing to me. There were a lot of huge potholes on the road to Braziel TH. I was unable to access the TH in early March 2019.
From Sipsey Rec Area: Park at the Sipsey Rec Area. Pay 3.00 to park. Don’t drive your car across the wooden bridge and don’t walk across the wooden bridge. Park in the upper parking lot. The trail in this parking lot takes you under the big metal bridge you likely just drove across to get into the parking area. This is trail 200. Follow this trail; it takes you along the Sipsey Fork. You will follow this across a stream and you will get wet. This becomes trail 209. There will be a sign indicating such before you cross the water. Take 209 until you see 204. Take 204 to Big Tree. I’ve not hiked this route to Big Tree, however I have hiked to several places along this route and I can tell you it’s beautiful! There are several waterfalls along the way. In my opinion, it’s worth the extra effort to get to see all the beautiful waterfalls!