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McKay Hollow Trail



2.2 mile 3.5 kilometer point to point
78% Runnable


Ascent: 546' 166 m
Descent: -575' -175 m
High: 1,568' 478 m
Low: 1,007' 307 m


Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 55% (29°)


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Trail shared by Luke Brisk

The most difficult and iconic trail in the entire park.

Luke Brisk

Features -none-

Runner Notes

The first section, which runs from the North Plateau Loop to the hollow, is very dangerous.


McKay Hollow Trail runs from the North Plateau Loop to the South Plateau Loop intersecting the Natural Well and Bucca Trail. People in the know break the trail up into two sections: "Death Mile" and "Rest Shelter."

"Death Mile" is the first section of the trail that runs between the North Plateau Loop and Natural Well trails. The trail starts off with a great view of a waterfall to your left, which you can climb down to if you so desire. From here, it only gets harder. This first section is extremely rocky and steep. One must be very careful when navigating down this section as one wrong move can send you tumbling down.

At the end of the Death Mile is where the trail's namesake (McKay Hollow) is located. Things open up and flatten out here.. This is also where the trail intersects with the Natural Well Trail.

This next section is referred to as the Rest Shelter section because there is a State Park Rest Shelter at the end of the trail. The trail stays down in the hollow for 3/4 of a mile and things are flat and easy. While there are still rocky sections, there are much fewer than on the prior section of trail. At 1.5 miles, the trail starts to ascend toward the rest shelter, getting a bit more rocky. Just before mile 2, the trail intersects with the Bucca Trail. The trailhead for the Bucca Trail is not marked. The trail continues on to the old wooden rest shelter that gives this section its name. The last fifty feet to the South Plateau Loop are some of the rockiest parts of this trail.

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Nov 2, 2019
Christie Schreiner
First time on this trail 2.5mi

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in Alabama


14 Views Last Month
1,322 Since Jun 16, 2015



View of McKay Hollow from Picnic Point.
May 12, 2015 near Huntsville, AL
"Rest Shelter" used by local runners to indicate which section of McKay Hollow Trail they are on.
Jul 25, 2015 near Huntsville, AL
Nice limestone rock formation near the primitive lodge
May 6, 2015 near Huntsville, AL
You've been warned.  Extremely difficult trail
Jul 25, 2015 near Huntsville, AL
Baby fawn near the end of the McKay Hollow Trail.
Sep 27, 2015 near Huntsville, AL
Rocky section leading to the South Plateau Loop
Jul 25, 2015 near Huntsville, AL


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