Northwestern Alabama – Hidden Cove Thousand Trails

We got sprinkled with pixie dust in Alabama! (Wait, it was that 4-letter S*** word again!)

After we spent the first week of March 2022 at the Escapees Rainbow Plantation RV Park outside of Mobile, AL, we moved a day’s distance up to the Northwestern corner of Alabama to the Hidden Cove Thousand Trails. (310 miles, about 6 hours)  Move day was on March 6, 2022, just after the Russian invasion of Ukraine had occurred and we were watching fuel prices spike.  We fueled up with diesel twice on the way up to Arley Alabama, once in the South ($4.447/gallon) and once just before arriving at our site up North ($4.399/gallon). Just 14 days earlier we had recorded $3.660/gallon at the same pump.

Snow can reach all the way down to the Gulf states!  We thought we were safe in Northern Alabama this late in the year and we still got dusted by the wintry mix of cold, ice pellets, and snow. It barely stayed around until noon before disappearing but it did remind us to not head too far North too fast yet! This, unfortunately, came at the wrong time, just before the days we had hoped to return to Stoney Lonesome Offroad Park with our much more capable Jeep! (You might remember this is where we plunged that little white Jeep into the muddy drink and had to be humbly pulled out!) We were not looking forward to the cold, and we were reading that the trails were pretty messed up from the rain that also came with the snow. That re-visit will have to wait for a future year!

Hidden Cove – Thousand Trails

Super unique at this campground is the military aircraft operations that occur over the area. We were advised of this at check-in and Jason experienced it firsthand up close outside. The campground is about 100 feet above the water level on a bluff and Jason was buzzed by a huge airplane (a C130?) at very low levels as it skimmed over the water below him, then at the last minute pulled up just in time to clear over the trees of the campground. There were numerous Black Hawk helicopters during the week at low levels over the campground too. We have not had this much air traffic working over us since New Orleans!

Nights 13
Cost $0/night (included in annual membership)
RV Park Thousand Trails – Southeast Zone Membership
Location Arley, AL
Starting March 6, 2022
Ending March 20, 2022

Kissed by snow in Northwestern Alabama at Hidden Cove Thousand Trails, Arley, AL. The forecast had us with 3-4″ so we were very happy to wake to only this light dusting that melted by 9 AM.We were very pleasantly surprised by this Thousand Trails park. Like most campgrounds, you will find varying degrees of decades from section to section. The amenities were well kept and the sites were mostly well maintained. The property is very hilly but each site may be terraced or at least well graded for leveling. It was not very busy when we checked in, clearly, this is a summer-focused property but it is open all year. We checked in at the “gatehouse” (which has broken gates, so no code to enter this park at that time) and they told us to go find a spot and then call the office with the number of the one we picked. You just have to avoid any sites with a deck or a traffic cone in them as those are the permanent (annual) sites that are not available.


Hidden Cove is an apt name for this RV park, a tranquil marina is at the base of the hill, and the cascades of the small stream that flows down the center of the campground.


Smith Lake Dam

Since offroading was off the table, we decided to go for a drive around the lake to check out the local area. We encountered Smith Lake Dam at the south end of the lake. There is a nice sitting area here and you can get up close to the discharge under the dam.

At the south end of the lake is Smith Lake Dam, which has an upper recreation area that is very open for fishing but the dam itself is also very accessible.


It is very unusual to be able to get so up close and under a dam nowadays. There is a walkway that takes you all the way up to and under the dam to the points of discharge.

Remember for Next Time

Arley is a very small community with a school, several banks, and just a few small resources. It is 45 minutes to any other substantial community in any direction.  The campground is about 10 minutes from Arley down a decent road, but as a cove, it is pretty much a dead-end destination.

Son’s of Arley is located right on the corner of Highway 41 as you turn toward the last stretch to the campground. This appears to be any ole fuel station but it is a hidden grocery store gem! This little store is fully stocked with groceries that you need and at a very reasonable price. There is a Dollar General another mile south, but we found it was not stocking very many groceries and ended up at Son’s of Arley by accident really. They really need to increase their marketing of groceries!

La Plaza Bonita Delicious Mexican Food is also just a little bit south of Son’s of Arley and is a great traditional Americanized Mexican-style restaurant. They served large portions with great service.

We filled prescriptions in Jasper, about 30 minutes south of Arley and 45 minutes from the campground. You will also find a Walmart Supercenter there and across from there is Jim ‘N Nick’s BBQ. We would not recommend this BBQ joint.



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