Last week we joined a friend and her two boys for a great hike to Natural Well, which is located on Monte Sano Mountain and is part of the McKay Hollow trail section.
We met at the trailhead located on the right hand side of Monte Sano Blvd. just past Burritt on the Mountain. The trail is pretty easy, though it is rocky underfoot. Shoes with thick soles would be handy as my cheap tennis shoes weren’t really cutting it.
Along the way you’ll find rocks and boulders along both sides of the path. You’ll also see evidence of possibly a mill and some type of building as you approach the well. I don’t have any information about either at this point, but I do plan to do a bit of research a bit later. The return trip from the well has a couple uphill climbs on the way back to the parking lot but not anything that was too steep or difficult.
The well itself is actually a pit cave and looks just like the picture, a huge gaping hole in the ground, though it was cool to see. A pit cave is described as a cave passage that is is actually vertical instead of horizontal and can’t be explored without the use of a rope or ladder. The shaft you see in the picture descends nearly 190 feet straight down, before sloping to a total 325 feet below the surface of the mountain.
If you are skilled in caving and rappelling, you can get a permit from the Monte Sano State Park office and explore the entire 1,150 foot horizontal passage with underground domes, waterfalls and tight passages.
I don’t think anyone in our group is quite that adventurous yet, but on the other hand, viewing an underground waterfall sounds pretty spectacular. I think. Right now I’ll stick to enjoying it from the comfort of my own home via this YouTube video that I found.
The pit is surrounded by a short partial wall (in front) and a chain link fence, but personally, I wouldn’t leave my children unsupervised.
At about 3.5 miles round trip, this was a great fall hike, probably one that we’ll add to our growing list of favorites in Northern Alabama.
So, I’m curious. Have you been caving or rappelling? What has been your most memorable adventure?
© 2010, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.