National Recreation Trails Database


Trail Description Continued

The TVA Muscle Shoals Trail Complex was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1981. It is located in Colbert County, Alabama along the banks of the Tennessee River on the Tennessee Valley Authority Reservation.

The historical significance of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Reservation has been nationally recognized. The trail provides links to numerous historical sites on the reservation while not infringing upon them. Ten sites on the reservation built by the War Department during the early 1900's remain and are listed in or are potentially eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, including the following:
 Wilson Dam, first started in 1918 to provide power to the nitrate plants, was completed in 1925. It is significant in that the dam represents a monumental effort by the War Department spearheaded by an order from President Wilson to tame the power of the Tennessee River. The dam is almost 100 feet high and approximately _ mile in length. Wilson Dam is recognized as a historic site by the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
 The First Quarters Site, approximately seven acres on the reservation, is the site of the first housing made available to the War Department during the construction of Wilson Dam. In 1919 the site was the Administrative Quarters.
 Wilson Steam plant, the largest of its kind when it was constructed in 1918, provided power to the U.S. Nitrate Plant during the war effort. The foundations of the plant are still visible from one of the trails in the Muscle Shoals Trail Complex.
 The CCC Pavilion is a recreational facility built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. It consists of a covered, open-walled sandstone structure approximately 100 by 40 feet. This location offers a spectacular view of the valley and river below.
One of the historic aspects of the Reservation most relevant to the trail is the two trails which were built by the CCC in the 1930s: the Rockpile Trail and the Small Wild Area Trail. They both exhibit stone stairs, erosion control in gullies, small foot bridges, and benches. The Rockpile Trail runs approximately 3.5 miles along the river while the Small Wild Area Trail is confined to a small draw near the river. Both trails are part of the TVA Muscle Shoals Trail Complex. These trails receive approximately 35,000 user visits per year.

The trails also enhance the City of Sheffield's Rails-to-Trails project on the South side of the River and the City of Florence's River Heritage trails on the North side of the River. The trails serve as a link via the Patton Island Bridge. These combinations of trails make it possible to cross the Tennessee River and travel to and from numerous places in Florence, Muscle Shoals, and Sheffield utilizing only trail systems. It offers a non-motorized alternative mode of transportation for the public.


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This website provides access to the National Recreation Trail (NRT) database, a collection of information on the various trails which have been designated as NRT's. These trails are located throughout the United States and U.S. territories. The amount of information may vary from trail to trail. If you need more information than is available on this site, please use the contact(s) listed for that trail. (If no contacts, are listed, you may request help from American Trails at

The on-line database has details on the currently designated National Recreation Trails. The NRT Program online is hosted by American Trails: