UPDATE 11/29/20: The wasps that were swarming the tower appear to have moved on!

Wasps are currently swarming around the cab of the fire tower on Smith Mountain. Male wasps look for high places to hang out
and attract females. On warm days during the fall, future queens become active and fly about. Dozens or hundreds might be seen in and around the Smith Mountain Fire Tower. There is no nest inside or on the tower. I have spent considerable time
inside the cabin of the tower during these times and have never had a wasp to land on me or try to sting. They don’t show
aggressive behavior because they don’t have a nest to protect. But it can be unnerving and may test your resolve to
remain calm. I believe it is still safe as long as you don’t swat at the wasps, but many people will not be comfortable with them.
Be patient. They will leave on their own soon… Harold Banks  CRATA

The fire tower and hiking trails on Smith Mountain were recently featured on WSFA News. Hailey Sutton,  a sports journalist for the station, documents her visits to Alabama’s outdoor attractions in the viewing area, in stories under the heading “Hiking with Hailey”. On Wednesday, September 9,  CRATA’s own Jimmy Lanier met Hailey and her film crew at Smith Mountain to do a little hiking, climb the fire tower and report on her adventures at our beautiful trail location. Later in the day they also visited the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, at Overlook Park. 

Hailey’s Smith Mountain story aired on the sports segment of WSFA Sunday night news, on September 13. You can see her story by clicking this link. Another “Hiking with Hailey” story may air in the near future, featuring the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail and CRATA. Stay tuned!



On Tuesday, June 2, a small CRATA trail crew built a 12ft. by 6ft. bridge on the Cherokee Bluffs Dam Railroad Trail. This was the last bridge necessary for CRATA to be able to properly maintain the section of trail between the Great Gorge and the Channahatchee Creek. We can now drive our ATV down the trail with the equipment necessary to mow, trim and keep the trail in great shape for our hikers. Thanks to our volunteers for another job well done! Today’s crew included, from left to right, Steve Thomas, Jimmy Lanier, Robert Sweeten, Bill Garnett, Mike Wilson and behind the camera, Walt Hutcheson.


The Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association welcomes a new volunteer to our team of advisors. Although CRATA created an Instagram account many months ago, we never really utilized it due to a lack of expertise. We now welcome Joshua Bradford, a professional photographer from Auburn, Alabama as a technical advisor and manager of our Instagram account. Joshua will help CRATA to promote the beauty of our hiking trails, outdoor facilities and educational attractions through photos, videos and visitor experiences. Please join us on Instagram at cratalakemartin to help showcase the beauty of central Alabama and the Lake Martin area! If you are posting photos of our trails on your own Instagram page, be sure to tag them with #crata and they may get featured on the CRATA page also.

April 22, 2020 Update – The parking lot is now accessible and you can hike the trails, but areas of the trails near the lake and the creeks are still very wet and sloppy.

April 20, 2020 – Once again the parking lot for our trails at the Yates Lake Forever Wild location is flooded and inaccessible to the public. With the deluge of rain that we received in the area on Sunday, the operators at Martin Dam had to open multiple gates, resulting in flooding on parts of Yates Lake. Please check back here for updates on the status of the John B. Scott Forever Wild trail and the Cherokee Ridge Dam Railroad Trail. We will update this post when the trails are accessible and ready for hikers.