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.


CRATA news concerning COVID-19 requirements – Although all of the CRATA trails remain open for hiking, the public must follow all requirements of the Alabama Emergency State Health Order when visiting and using the facilities at all of our trail locations. Click here to read the health order as posted by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. 

During this period that we are all under the State Health Order, please make good choices while hiking our trails and follow all of the rules for grouping and social distancing. No more than 9 people can hike as a group and each group must maintain a distance of 6 feet between each hiker on the trail. We are asking the public to be even more diligent and considerate when climbing the fire tower at our Smith Mountain location. We are now limiting the number of people in the tower cab at the same time to 4, instead of the normal 10. Also, we ask that only one group of people be on the tower at one time, so that we eliminate people passing each other on the narrow stairway.

Please do your part in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and also avoid being fined for failure to comply with the health order. We have been notified that enforcement officers will be checking our trail locations and enforcing the order.

March 9, 2020 – CRATA recently completed the new donor recognition board and kiosk on top of Smith Mountain. We had hoped to have this completed at the time of the dedication for the Educational Signage Project in the fall of 2019, but there was a delay in getting the cast metal name plaques completed and delivered. We are happy to finally be able to fully recognize all of the donors and contributors for the Firetower Restoration and the Educational Signage Projects. Please take a look on your next trip to the top of the mountain and see all of the people and organizations responsible for making Smith Mountain the family outdoor destination it has become!

The CRATA volunteers working to complete the kiosk were Jerry Bynum, Jimmy Lanier, Harold Banks, Mike Wilson, Bill Garnett and Walt Hutcheson.

                Yates Lake Trails Parking Lot

UPDATE: March 10, 2020 – The water level on Yates lake is still a little high, but the road and parking lot at our Yates Lake trails is dry and accessible to the public. Happy hiking!

UPDATE: March 5, 2020 – As the heavy rainfall continues, so does the flooding. Once again Martin Dam has been forced to open multiple gates to relieve rising waters above the dam and once again the parking lot at the Yates Lake trails, below the dam, is now under water. The lower portion of Goldmine Road and the parking lot are inaccessible to the public at this time. We will update the status for these trails on this blog as it changes.

UPDATE: February 23, 2020 – Both trails are now open to hike. Some areas may remain wet for a few days. Enjoy the hike and as always, let us know if you experience problems on our trails that we need to address.

UPDATE: February 21, 2020 – Goldmine Road and the Yates Lake trails parking lot are now accessible. Parts of the John B. Scott trail are still flooded near the shoreline of the lake. The Railroad trail is open to hike, but will still be wet and sloppy in some areas.

Due to heavy rains in Alabama during the past week, Alabama Power has been required to open additional gates at Martin Dam. The additional water released quickly into Yates Lake is causing flooding in many areas, especially close to the dam. The parking lot for the John B. Scott Forever Wild Trail and the Cherokee Ridge Dam Railroad Trail, and portions of the trails have flooded and are currently inaccessible. The shoreline part of Goldmine Road is under water and the public should avoid this area until further notice! With additional rain predicted for the area, this area may remain flooded for days. Please check back here on the news page for updates.

      Dedication ceremony on Smith Mountain.

Project leaders, Harold Banks and Kenneth Boone

November 21, 2019

On Thursday, November 21, 2019, a dedication ceremony was held on top of Smith Mountain. CRATA friends, supporters and partners gathered to dedicate the educational signage project that was completed earlier this year. Funded by 200+ donors and a generous grant from the Recreational Trails Division of Alabama Department of Environment and Community Affairs, this project involved dozens of volunteers in research and implementation. Displays were professionally prepared by Southern Custom Exhibits located in Anniston, Alabama.

CRATA held the event to thank our supporters and partners that funded this project and worked many, many hours towards its completion. The names of the people that donated $100 or more to this project, along with our partners will be permanently displayed on cast metal plaques, located near the educational displays, on top of the mountain. 

With the completion of this project and combined with the historic fire lookout tower and hiking trails, Smith Mountain has become one of the best outdoor recreation/education destinations in Alabama and the Southeast.

Click here for additional details and display photos!