This trail built by the CCC in the 1930's is one of the more intimidating trails on Monte Sano. It begins at the South Plateau Loop
on the west side of the plateau at one of the trail shelters, and you'll immediately start your descent from the plateau at about 1,600 feet down to 1,000 feet in McKay Hollow.
The first 0.8 miles is rocky and steep in a lot of places, with steep drop-offs on the downhill side of the trail. After the first 0.25 mile, you'll reach the intersection with the Bucca Trail
, which can take you over towards the Warpath Ridge Trail. Staying on the McKay Hollow Trail will take you further down the mountain, with switchbacks, rock gardens, and steep descents. Some portions are heavily eroded. Expect to hike-a-bike on some sections.
At the 0.8-mile mark, the trail begins to level out. A confusing intersection with an unauthorized trail occurs here. Keep to the right at this intersection; the unauthorized trail lies on private property and is not sanctioned by the State Park. The next 0.84 miles is relatively level but it has some drainage issues. Most of this section is rideable when dry. Also, because it is not easily accessible, maintenance on this portion of the trail is spotty. You may encounter downed trees (especially in the winter, spring, and fall), and if you do, report them to SORBA-Huntsville or to the Monte Sano State Park office.
The McKay Hollow Trail intersects with the Natural Well Trail
before ascending as a hiking-only trail back up the mountain (this is not mapped). Do not attempt to continue riding the McKay Hollow Trail back up the mountain; this is not rideable. No one will stop you if you attempt to ride this section, but the author assures you that you'll regret it because you'll end up hiking your bike up 600 feet of elevation gain to the picnic area. You can, however, take the Natural Well Trail
to the Arrowhead Trail
if you want to continue riding in a loop around the mountain, or return back the way you came.