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Best Hikes in Alabama: A Guide to the Top Trails and Scenic Routes

Alabama, known as the Heart of Dixie, is not only famous for its rich history and diverse culture but is also home to some of the most scenic trails for hiking enthusiasts. With landscapes ranging from the rolling hills of Appalachian mountaintops to the pristine shores of the Gulf Coast, Alabama offers incredible outdoor adventures for explorers of all skill levels.


From the challenging trek at Walls of Jericho Trail to the family-friendly Monte Sano State Park, Alabama’s diverse array of hiking trails ensure there’s something for everyone. Other popular trails include the mesmerizing Little River Canyon and the captivating scenery along the Alum Hollow and Stone Cuts Trails. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just a beginner, the natural beauty of Alabama’s trails combined with the camaraderie of fellow hikers is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Key Takeaways

  • Alabama boasts a wide variety of scenic trails suited for all skill levels.
  • Some popular trails include Walls of Jericho Trail, Monte Sano State Park, and Little River Canyon.
  • Exploring Alabama’s incredible landscapes offers a rewarding experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Best Hikes in Alabama: Overview

Alabama boasts a diverse landscape and various outdoor activities, offering many opportunities for nature enthusiasts. From beautiful waterfalls to fascinating caves, the hiking trails in this state cater to different difficulty levels, ensuring something for everyone.

In north Alabama, one must-visit hiking spot is the Walls of Jericho Trail. Located in Estillfork, this 6.4-mile out-and-back trail features a captivating waterfall. Though rated as difficult, the experience is well worth the effort. The trail passes through lush forests, sinkholes, and small falls.

Rainbow Mountain Loop Trail in Rainbow Mountain Preserve is another great option. Conveniently close to the city, this 1.5-mile loop offers a moderate level of difficulty, making it accessible to a wider range of hikers. The trail winds through a picturesque natural environment and is perfect for those looking for a quick escape from urban life.

Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville features multiple hiking trails that present a scenic view of the Tennessee River. One of the most popular hiking paths at this park is the Blue Trail. This mile-long, relatively flat, and paved trail offers ample shade, making it an ideal choice for a leisurely hike.

When embarking on any of these trails, remember to respect nature by following Leave No Trace principles, staying on designated trails, and properly disposing of waste. Alabama’s wide range of hiking trails helps showcase the true beauty of this state and provides a glimpse of its stunning natural treasures.

Walls of Jericho Trail

The Walls of Jericho Trail is a popular and challenging hike located near Estillfork, Alabama. This 6.6-mile out-and-back trail features a beautiful waterfall, providing hikers with a rewarding destination upon reaching the end of the trail. With an elevation gain of 1,351 feet, this route is considered difficult and usually takes around 3 hours and 19 minutes to complete.

The trail takes you through a variety of landscapes, including lush forests with diverse wildflowers and foliage. As you hike along the Walls of Jericho Trail, you’ll also encounter several small streams, making for picturesque crossings and offering opportunities to cool off during your hike.

This scenic area covers approximately 12,500 acres in Jackson County and is often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the South.” The Walls of Jericho has a rich history, with legends stating that Davy Crockett explored the area in the 1700s. The protected area also encompasses the headwaters of the globally significant Paint Rock River.

While hiking the Walls of Jericho Trail, it’s important to be prepared for the challenging terrain, and it’s recommended to bring proper footwear and plenty of water. The hike back is mostly uphill, so be prepared for a more strenuous return journey.

Monte Sano State Park

Monte Sano State Park is located on Monte Sano Mountain in Huntsville, Alabama, and is known for its stunning scenic views and rich wildlife. The Spanish name “Monte Sano” translates to “mountain of health,” perfectly encapsulating the park’s revitalizing essence. With numerous hiking trails and outdoor activities, the park provides an ideal destination for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike.

The park offers over 20 miles of well-maintained hiking trails, catering to hikers of varying skill levels. For those seeking a family-friendly experience, there are 8 easy hiking trails within the Monte Sano Preserve. These trails are perfect for birding, walking, and enjoying nature’s beauty while having a fun, low-impact adventure. Meanwhile, more experienced hikers can take on the challenging routes that lead to remarkable rock outcroppings and stunning mountain overlooks. Regardless of your chosen trail, the park guarantees picturesque views along the way.

In addition to the hiking opportunities, Monte Sano State Park is home to an array of plants, birds, and wildlife. While traversing the park’s trails, it is common to come across a diverse range of bird species and other small creatures, making it an ideal location for birdwatching and wildlife observation. The lush foliage present throughout the park provides a verdant backdrop for your trek and contributes to the overall rejuvenating experience.

To enhance your visit further, Monte Sano State Park offers a variety of facilities, such as camping areas, cabins, restrooms, and picnic areas. These amenities ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience that allows you to fully appreciate the beauty of nature and the park’s many attributes.

Little River Canyon

The Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama is popular for its diverse range of beautiful trails, making it an ideal destination for hikers and nature lovers. Little River, the heart of the preserve, carves through the canyon and offers stunning views of waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, and lush forests.

One of the top trails in Little River Canyon National Preserve is the Little River Canyon Trail. This moderately difficult trail takes hikers several miles through the canyon’s picturesque landscape, providing an immersive and diverse experience for adventure-seekers. Here, visitors can savor the breathtaking views of the towering sandstone cliffs and explore the canyon’s numerous side-stream waterfalls.

The Eberhart Trail is another excellent hike within the preserve. This trail descends from the canyon rim down to the canyon floor, providing an opportunity to experience the lush vegetation and geological features up close. As you hike through the trail, catch sight of vibrant wildflowers, moss-covered boulders, and the unique rock formations that characterize the rugged Little River Canyon.

A must-see attraction in the area is Little River Falls, one of the South’s most visited and easily accessible waterfalls. Situated at the beginning of the canyon, this picturesque waterfall offers both a scenic view and a refreshing swimming spot for visitors. The thundering cascade of water plunging into the pool below creates a serene ambience for picnickers and nature enthusiasts.

In addition to the mentioned trails, the Little River Canyon National Preserve has various other paths to explore, catering to different skill levels and interests. The preserve’s unique ecosystem, impressive geological features, and abundant recreational activities make it an indispensable gem in Alabama’s hiking scene.

Alum Hollow and Stone Cuts Trails

The Alum Hollow Trail is a 2.2-mile out and back trail located in the Green Mountain Nature Preserve in Huntsville, Alabama. This easy-rated trail is suitable for all skill levels and features a stunning waterfall, Alum Falls, and the Alum Cave, a rock overhang historically used as a shelter by Native Americans. To reach the Alum Hollow Trailhead, go to 13800 S Shawdee Rd SE, Huntsville, AL 35803.

As you make your way to the hidden waterfall along the Alum Hollow Trail, you’ll experience a steep downhill section which can be slippery, so wearing slip-resistant shoes is highly recommended. The trail also offers beautiful views as it follows the edge of the bluff, making it an enjoyable hike for nature enthusiasts.

Another popular trail in Alabama is the Stone Cuts Trail. This trail is part of the Rainbow Mountain Loop Trail, which is located within the Rainbow Mountain Preserve in Madison, Alabama. Stone Cuts Trail features fascinating rock formations and showcases large boulders, creating a unique hiking experience.

To access the Stone Cuts Trail, begin at the Rainbow Mountain Loop Trail in the Rainbow Mountain Preserve and follow the trail markers along the route. The preserve is located at 230 Stoneway Trail, Madison, AL 35758. Although the trail is well-marked, pay attention to the directional signs to stay on the correct path.

Both the Alum Hollow Trail and Stone Cuts Trail offer incredible hiking experiences through captivating landscapes in Alabama. Whether you’re interested in exploring caves and waterfalls or traversing through striking rock formations, these trails provide memorable adventures for hikers in the Huntsville and Madison areas.

Cheaha State Park

Cheaha State Park, nestled in the Talladega National Forest, offers a variety of hiking trails that cater to both adventurers and families alike. The park is home to Cheaha Mountain, the highest point in Alabama, which stands at an elevation of 2,407 feet. Visiting this park provides an excellent opportunity to explore the serene beauty of the Cheaha Wilderness.

A popular trail within the park is the Chinnabee Silent Trail, which starts near Lake Chinnabee and ends at Caney Head. This moderately difficult, 7.3-mile trail takes hikers through lush forests, along picturesque streams, and past the stunning Cheaha Falls, a must-see attraction for nature enthusiasts. Laurel Falls, another beautiful waterfall, can also be found on this trail.

For those looking for a less strenuous hike with rewarding views, the Pulpit Rock Trail is a great choice. This 2-mile hike, with an elevation gain of 100 feet, leads to a breathtaking viewpoint at Pulpit Rock, offering panoramic vistas of the surrounding landscape. The trail can be accessed from the park’s main road and is suitable for all skill levels.

In addition to the aforementioned trails, Cheaha State Park features several other paths that cater to various skill levels and preferences. Some of these trails include the Red Trail, which loops around the park, and shorter routes near the town of Lineville. No matter which trail you choose, Cheaha State Park promises an enjoyable hiking experience amidst the natural beauty of Alabama’s highest point and picturesque wilderness.

Oak Mountain State Park

Oak Mountain State Park, located in Pelham, Alabama, is a popular destination for hiking enthusiasts. Spanning 9,940 acres, the park is situated near Double Oak Mountain, which is part of the Appalachian Mountains. With its abundant wildlife and diverse range of hiking trails, visitors can easily find themselves immersed in nature’s beauty.

One of the park’s highlights is Peavine Falls, a picturesque waterfall that can be seen from the trails. Hikers can access the falls via the Blue Trail, which incorporates a moderate level of difficulty, suitable for most outdoor adventurers. The park also offers a variety of other trails, catering to different skill levels and interests.

In addition to hiking, Oak Mountain State Park is also known for its biking trails. From leisurely rides to more challenging paths, the park accommodates all levels of biking enthusiasts, offering them a spectacular experience amidst the park’s natural setting. Visitors can also expect to spot various species of wildlife during their hikes or bike rides.

DeSoto State Park

DeSoto State Park is located on top of Lookout Mountain, about 9 miles northeast of Fort Payne, Alabama. The park offers a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, walking, and exploring beautiful waterfalls. The trails present a variety of interesting rock formations, small seasonal waterfalls, diverse plant communities, and plentiful animal life that provide an exceptional hiking experience.

The DeSoto Scout Trail is one of the popular hiking routes in the park. This trail extends from DeSoto State Park to the new “Backcountry Trailhead” on Backcountry Road 5 in Little River Canyon National Preserve (LRCNP). The trail is marked with “DST” signs, except within DeSoto State Park, where it is marked with a yellow blaze. Hikers can enjoy breathtaking views of the West Fork of Little River, which flows downstream into the interconnected Little River Canyon.

Notable waterfalls in the park include Lost Falls and Sougahoagdee Falls. Both of these waterfalls are accessible through the Lost Falls Trail, a moderately challenging hike that takes you through dense woods, sinkholes, and impressive rock formations. These beautiful waterfalls are especially striking in the rainy season, providing a captivating visual reward for those venturing through the park’s trails.

Other noteworthy trails in DeSoto State Park are:

  • White Trail
  • Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail
  • Blue Trail
  • Orange Trail
  • Aqua Trail

Each of these trails offers unique scenery and varying levels of difficulty, catering to different hiking preferences and skill levels. Whether you are looking to embark on an adventurous hike or seeking a family-friendly experience, DeSoto State Park has a trail suited to your needs.

DeSoto State Park’s great variety of trails, gorgeous waterfalls, and fascinating natural features make it a top destination for hikers and nature lovers visiting Alabama.

Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve

Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve, located in Tuscumbia, Alabama, is a privately owned scenic natural area that’s open to the public at no charge. The preserve covers 700 acres and offers a sanctuary for native plants and animals. It is a cooperative project with The Nature Conservancy of Alabama. The area is maintained by Jim and Faye Lacefield, who have been dedicated to preserving its natural beauty.

The nature preserve is home to numerous scenic waterfalls, making it an ideal spot for nature lovers. These waterfalls can be viewed along the preserve’s 11 miles of hiking trails. As you journey along the trails, you’ll also encounter a diverse range of wildflowers that bloom throughout the year, offering stunning displays of color within the lush green landscape.

Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve is open from Friday to Sunday, 7 am – 5 pm. The trails in the preserve cater to various skill levels and provide excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation. Whether you’re seeking an adventurous hike or a family outing, the preserve’s hand-curated trail maps will help guide you on your journey.

In addition to hiking, visitors can also enjoy other activities like camping, picnicking, and creek wading. To ensure that future generations can appreciate and enjoy the preserve, be sure to review and follow the property-specific trail rules posted at the location upon arrival. Don’t forget to sign in at the visitor support station located next to the main parking area when you arrive and sign out as you leave.

Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve offers a rare opportunity to experience Alabama’s unspoiled wilderness while making unforgettable memories with family and friends. Cherish the scenic beauty, diverse landscape, and natural wonders waiting to be discovered in this remarkable area.

Bankhead National Forest

Located near Double Springs, Alabama, the William B. Bankhead National Forest is an astonishing destination for hiking enthusiasts. This 180,000-acre forest is known for its waterfalls, wilderness areas, and wide range of trails suitable for all skill levels. The National Forest is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers alike.

The highlight of Bankhead National Forest is the Sipsey Wilderness Area. As a designated wilderness, it is free of wheeled vehicles and most improvements, offering a pristine experience for hikers. The designated wild and scenic river areas are particularly popular for their scenic beauty and stunning views.

One of the best hikes within the William B. Bankhead National Forest is the Caney Creek Falls Trail. This 1.7-mile out-and-back trail is popular among visitors and locals alike for its remarkable beauty. The trail takes hikers through the picturesque landscape and culminates at the breathtaking Caney Creek waterfall.

Another notable hiking trail within Bankhead National Forest is the Borden Creek Hiking Trail. Found in the forest’s Sipsey Wilderness area, the 5-mile out-and-back trail features a moderate difficulty rating. Starting at Trailhead 200, the trail follows alongside Borden Creek, showcasing the diverse flora and fauna of the region.

Fall is a particularly spectacular time to hike in the Bankhead National Forest due to its mild temperatures and vibrant foliage. During this season, the hardwood forests, sandstone caves, and scalloped cliffs create a rich, colorful backdrop for hikers.

Lake Chinnabee and Lake Martin

Lake Chinnabee, nestled within the Talladega National Forest, offers the serene Chinnabee Silent Trail. This trail provides a refreshing hiking experience through a tranquil forest setting, adorned with waterfalls and swimming holes. Beginning at the 17-acre Lake Chinnabee, hikers can enjoy the captivating view of Cheaha Falls and the picturesque Devil’s Den Falls along the trails, which also feature streams and rock outcroppings.

Lake Martin, situated near Dadeville, boasts over 100 miles of trails within Russell Forest. From the five trailheads, hikers can explore the lush pines and hardwoods that surround the breathtaking lake. These trails are versatile and accommodating, as they can be utilized for biking and equestrian recreation as well. A notable trail in the area is the Walker Bynum Smith Mountain Tower Trail, which offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes, providing an unforgettable experience for hikers.

For those seeking a more challenging adventure, the Alum Falls and Alum Cave trails near Lake Martin present demanding terrain with rewarding scenery. Both trails lead to natural marvels such as caves, waterfalls, and impressive rock formations, making it a worthwhile trek for experienced hikers.

When exploring the beautiful landscapes of Alabama, Lake Chinnabee and Lake Martin offer an array of hiking trails for all skill levels, from peaceful strolls through serene woods to exhilarating ascends up prominent peaks. The variety of trails, picturesque waterfalls, and diverse natural scenery provide an unparalleled hiking experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Prep and Tips for Alabama Hikes

Before embarking on a hiking adventure in Alabama, it’s essential to be prepared and have some useful tips in mind. From picturesque trails to various difficulty levels, there’s an option for everyone, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker.

When planning your trip, consider visiting small towns along the way or even taking a road trip to explore multiple trails. Alabama is rich in outdoor adventure opportunities, and visiting places like Birmingham or Gadsden can add to the overall experience. Be sure to capture the beauty of your hike by taking plenty of pictures to remember the journey.

As for trail difficulty, remember that Alabama offers hikes with varying ratings, such as easy, moderate, and difficult. Choose a trail that aligns with your abilities and experience, from beginner-friendly paths to challenging climbs. If you’re hiking with children, opt for kid-friendly trails to ensure their safety and enjoyment.

Safety should always be a priority, so invest in a good pair of hiking boots to provide proper ankle support and traction on various terrains. Additionally, check the trail rules if you plan to bring your furry companion, as not all trails are dog-friendly. It’s always best to verify beforehand to avoid any issues during the hike.

Lastly, when exploring Alabama’s trails, such as those in Moss Rock Preserve, keep an eye on the map and trail markings to stay on the right path. This will ensure a seamless and enjoyable venture into the great outdoors.

Remember, being well-prepared, informed, and adhering to trail rules and guidelines will enhance your hiking experience in the beautiful state of Alabama.