The Yates Lake Forever Wild Tract offers excellent woodland birding along the shores of the Tallapoosa River. Visitors can access a variety of woodland and riparian habitats via several miles of hiking trails. Spring and Fall seasons offer great opportunities to view migration. Summer woods will be rich with birdsong, including Scarlet Tanagers which are uncommon this far south in the state as a breeding bird. Additional breeding songbirds include Worm-eating Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Northern Parula, Black-and-white Warbler, Wood Thrush, and Acadian Flycatcher. Winter offers excellent opportunities to see Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Blue-headed Vireo, Pine Siskin, Hermit Thrush, and several sparrows.
Trailhead parking is located below Lake Martin Dam on Gold Mine Rd.
This tract has two hiking trails that currently total 7.4 miles in length. The John B. Scott Forever Wild Trail consists of a 4.7-mile loop starting and ending in the north parking lot on Goldmine Road. The Cherokee Bluffs Dam Railroad Trail is a 2.7-mile trail starting at the north parking lot on Goldmine Road and ending at Channahatchee Creek. The trail is currently only complete to Channahachee Creek but, once completed, it will be 4.3-miles in length and end at the parking area on Tucker Road.
Interactive Map: http://conservationgis.alabama.gov/fwlt/
The Forever Wild Land Trust has purchased approximately 6,000 acres on the western shore on Yates Lake. The submitted site is a park under development by the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Association in cooperation with Forever Wild. At present, the area is improved only with a gravel parking lot and public boat ramp accessing the Tallapoosa River at the beginning of Yates Lake just a short distance below Martin Dam. From this parking lot/park several footpath-only trails will start. The trails are scheduled to be complete by late Spring 2017. One of the trails will travel for several miles along an old railroad bed that was built in the early 1920s for the construction of Martin Dam. The railroad was abandoned in 1926. The trail on the old railroad bed travels for several miles through old-growth hardwood forests. Another trail called the John B. Scott Forever Wild Trail will loop for 5 miles along part of the Yates Lake shoreline, past groves of bald cypress, along pristine streams through old growth hardwoods, and climb over Saddle Rock Mountain, the highest point in Elmore County. There will be additional trails built by CRATA in the future.
Traveling on Hwy 49 South from Dadeville or on Hwy 49 North from I-85, turn West on AL Hwy 50. Drive 8.5 miles and just after you cross the bridge over the Tallapoosa River, turn left onto Gold Mine Road. Continue to the boat ramp and parking area.