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Hiking with Hailey: Horseshoe Bend Military Park

As Alabama’s first national park, Horsehoe Bend gives visitors a look at what was once war-torn land while showcasing the park’s natural landmarks.
Published: Jun. 27, 2021 at 4:48 PM CDT
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DAVISTON, Ala. (WSFA) - Across the state, Alabama has preserved much of its past, and that’s definitely the case at the first national park in Alabama. What may look like an empty field today, was once the site of one of the most important battles in American history. For this week’s episode of Hiking with Hailey, we’re taking a trip through time at Horseshoe Bend National Militay Park.

“This is Alabama’s first National park opened in 1964, and this is a battlefield from the Creek War of 1813-1814 with the Muscogee Creek Nation and the United States,” said park ranger Matthew Robinson.

Andrew Jackson and his army used cannons similar to this one during the Battle of Horseshoe...
Andrew Jackson and his army used cannons similar to this one during the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. They fired into the open field to attack the Red Sticks.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

Centuries ago, then-Army Gen. Andrew Jackson brought a battalion of men into what is now the Yellowhammer State, making camp six miles north of Horseshoe Bend. His plan? To attack Chief Menawa and the Red Sticks in order to gain control of the land.

“[This] was the last battle of the Creek War, which led to the Treaty of Fort Jackson, which happened down close to Montgomery,” said Robinson. “The 21 million acres of land the Muscogee Creek Nation lost quickly became the State of Alabama.”

Fastforward to 1964, and the battle was permanently preserved here in Daviston.

“The purpose of the park as a National Park is to preserve and protect this land, and a big part of that is history,” said Robinson. “At the battle field, you can drive the three mile tour route through the park, and we also have the 2.8 mile hiking trail in which you can hike through the park and get to see all this river valley land close to the Tallapoosa River. Also in the park, we have a boat ramp that you can access the river and be apart of the Harold Bank Canoe trail. It’s really popular with kayakers, so there’s a lot of recreational activity here at the park, too.”

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park offers 2.8 miles of hiking trails that takes you through...
Horseshoe Bend National Military Park offers 2.8 miles of hiking trails that takes you through the park.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

As you make your way through Horseshoe Bend, there are various tour stops that signify important events in history. One of the most prominent may look like just a line of white posts in an open field, but it is actually one of the most crucial landmarks at the park.

“So as you come down and get to tour stop two, if you’re walking or even on the road, this is the barricade that the Red Stick built to protect themselves,” said Robinson. “Today, we have these white posts that mark where the barricade would have been, but that would have been pine logs five to eight feet tall and 1,200 feet wide. It would have stretched river to river to protect [the Red Sticks] from the United States forces coming in during the battle.”

Horseshoe Bend is the site of the last battle of the Creek War. The white post signify the...
Horseshoe Bend is the site of the last battle of the Creek War. The white post signify the massive pine wall the Red Sticks used to try to protect themselves during the battle.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

While you’re walking along the park’s nature trails, you’re surrounded by both old and new growth, and during the rainy summer months, there’s plenty of green to go around.

The trails also serve as the gatewood to the park’s past, a solemn reminder of the once sacred land and it’s war-torn history, such as the Village Overlook, which is where over 350 women and children took refuge during the Creek War.

"This overlooks where the village would have been, so a city of about 300 houses they had built...
"This overlooks where the village would have been, so a city of about 300 houses they had built for the short time they were here, and on the day of the battle there was 350 women and children down in the village as the battle raged," said Matthew Robinson, park ranger at Horseshoe Bend.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

As difficult as it can be to rememer such a grim time, Robinson says its imperative we keep it alive.

“I think it’s extremely important to be able to protect this site, to tell the story of the Muscogee Creek Nation and also not just the history and the culture, but also the land and to have this undeveloped piece of land open for everyone to enjoy right here on the Tallapoosa River is extremely important,” said Robinson.

Visitors are also encouraged to stop by the newly re-opened Visitor Center, which is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The park’s trails and tour stops are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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