Horton Mill Covered Bridge is one of the three bridges that make Blount County the Covered Bridge Capital of Alabama. Horton Mill, Swann, and Easley bridges are all set in habitat rich with the three factors that are of ultimate importance to wildlife: food, water, and shelter. Horton Mill is the most accessible of the three and is the only one with a dedicated nature trail.
The Horton Mill Covered Bridge nature trail follows Calvert Prong and hosts a hundred plant species, including 27 fern species. This area should provide opportunities to observe spring migrants and both resident and migratory breeders. The trail begins just below the brow of a hill, allowing birders to scan the canopy of the hardwoods on the banks of the creek for birds. From spring through fall, this is an excellent place to see a variety of vireos, both tanagers (mostly Summer), and warblers including Northern Parula, Louisiana Waterthrush, Worm-eating Warbler, Ovenbird, and Kentucky Warbler. This is a prime area for spotting Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Pileated Woodpeckers. Hairy woodpeckers are also regulars here. The trees on the upper part of the trail become even more active in migration owing to the food stocks provided by the native plants, which include silverbell trees (Halesia) and American snowbell (Styrax) bushes. Look carefully and you may even see the rare Yellow Ladies’ Slipper Orchid in April and early May. This area is also rich with winter visitors.
Follow the trail toward the river and look for Louisiana Waterthrushes, and Acadian Flycatchers in spring and summer, and also Belted Kingfishers and Wood Ducks in and near the creek. The stream is lined with river birches and musclewoods (Carpinus) and many Virginia sweetspires, which turn a striking garnet color in fall. The colder months bring Song and Swamp sparrows by the water, and White-throated and Fox sparrows in the upper reaches of the trail.
The trail here is unimproved and is rather steep in several places. Call this a moderate hike. You should have appropriate footwear to walk the trail all the way to the water and back. Those with physical limitations may be well advised to remain on the more level upper portion of the trail.
Directions: From the intersection of US 231 and AL 75 in Oneonta (Blount County) (restaurants, service stations, lodging available), follow AL 75 north for 5 miles and turn left at the sign for Horton Mill Covered Bridge. The bridge is less than 100 yards off Highway 75.
GPS: 34.009696 -86.448669
Horton Mill Covered Bridge (Mailing address)
Blount County Commission
220 2nd Av. East
Oneonta, AL 35121
Amenities: parking, trail