Alabama is becoming quite the hiking destination for travelers around the world. It’s no wonder with its incredible natural beauty — roaring waterfalls, rolling mountains, and deep canyons.
No matter what time of year you visit, Alabama or are passing through, make time to stop and explore the natural side of the state on one of these spectacular hiking trails.
Lake Guntersville State Park
Located on the banks of its namesake lake and town, Lake Guntersville State Park offers 36 miles of hiking and biking trails of various lengths and difficulties that lead to incredible views and wildlife.
Visit the park beginning the second to last weekend in January and take part in the annual Eagle Awareness Weekends that run for three consecutive weekends during which conservationists and birders lead panel discussions and take you out on the trail to view and learn about one of the most mesmerizing avian species, the American bald eagle.
Pro Tip: Lake Guntersville State Park has an incredible lodge perched high atop a rock bluff. Most rooms in the lodge face the bluff for incredible lake views. Make your reservations early. The lodge fills up fast in January.
Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville
Length: 2.4-Mile Moderate Loop
Hiking at Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville is amazing any time of year, but in the winter, the park is still, peaceful, and quiet, the perfect time to take a hike through an incredible geologic feature of the region, the Stone Cuts.
The Stone Cuts are just that — a series of tall limestone walls that have been scoured away over the ages by the elements. A combination of the park’s South Plateau Loop, Mountain Mist Trail, Stone Cuts Trail, and Sinks Trail will lead you between the tall white rock walls and a short cave.
Pro Tip: Not only is winter a great time to hike Monte Sano State Park but also to do some star gazing at the Von Braun Astronomical Observatory located right at the park. Doors open to the public Saturday nights for a planetarium show, an informative speaker, and after the show, a view of the night sky through their telescopes.
Talladega National Forest, Delta
Length: 2.3-Mile Easy Out-And-Back Hike
Spring showers ignite the many waterfalls of Alabama and one of the most popular and easiest to hike to is Cheaha Falls in the Talladega National Forest.
The falls itself is a 20-foot tall plunge-type waterfall with a pool at the bottom, a beautiful and relaxing location if ever there was one.
The hike itself is along the relatively level but rocky Chinnabee Silent Trail starting at the trail’s southern terminus and parking lot on AL-281.
Walls Of Jericho
Length: 6.4-Mile Out-And-Back, Moderate Hike In, Difficult Out
The Walls of Jericho have been described as beautiful, awesome, and amazing. The accolades go on and on. It is definitely one of Alabama’s most incredible hiking destinations.
This hike takes you past deep sinkholes and caves and crosses beautiful turquoise streams before arriving at your destination, the Walls of Jericho themselves — a spectacular high-walled limestone bowl canyon with an incredible plunge waterfall on top that cascades into a hole in the rocks and eventually shoots out through the bottom tier of rocks far below.
Pro Tip: At a minimum, this is a half-day hike but plan on a full day to be safe. You will be climbing down just over 3 miles into a canyon and what goes down must come back up. Bring plenty of water, snacks, and lunch. Make sure to wear comfortable but sturdy hiking boots.
Length: 1.4-Mile Moderate Out-And-Back Trail
One of the tallest, most stunning, and probably most visited waterfalls in Alabama is DeSoto Falls. The falls are located in a separate northern segment of DeSoto State Park and not the main park.
You can get a breathtaking view of the falls by following this non-marked, rocky, 1.4-mile out-and-back trail that takes you near the bottom of the falls. The turnaround for this trail is alongside the West Fork of Little River close to the base of the falls. It’s a spectacular sight and you may catch a little spray if the wind is right.
The hike is a moderate one and very rocky. At times you will be climbing over boulders as you walk along the banks of the river. You can get more information on this trail with maps on the AllTrails app and website.
DeSoto Falls Picnic Area
Length: 0.2-Mile ADA Accessible Out-And-Back At The Picnic Area
The easiest way to view DeSoto Falls and one that is perfect for smaller children and is ADA accessible is the 0.2-mile loop at the DeSoto Falls picnic area on DeSoto Falls Road. The short stone and cement path takes you to the edge of the falls with breathtaking views from the top of the roaring falls and canyon. There are picnic tables and restrooms here.
Pro Tip: Even though Alabama’s waterfalls usually run fast, they can be a mere trickle during times of drought, even DeSoto Falls.
Devil’s Den Via Chinnabee Silent Trail
Talladega National Forest, Delta
Length: 1.4-Mile Moderate Out-And-Back
Everything that makes the Talladega National Forest so beautiful is on full display along the Chinnabee Silent Trail and this hike to Devil’s Den — the shimmering waters of Cheaha Creek as it rushes towards Lake Chinnabee with its many shoals, cascades, and drops, an impressive view of Devil’s Den Gorge from high above on an elevated bluff walkway, and best of all, many refreshing pools that invite you to take a dip in the cool mountain stream.
The hike begins at the Lake Chinnabee Recreation Area with a turnaround at the walkway high above the gorge.
Pro Tip: There is a small day-use fee charged for parking at the recreation area.
Mardis Mill Falls
Length: 0.1-Mile Easy Out-And-Back
Ok, so a hike to Mardis Mill Falls isn’t a challenging full-day hike, but what is at the end of this short, easy walking trail is a spectacular 15-foot tall, 35-foot wide block waterfall with one of the best easy access swimming holes around.
The falls — also known as Graves Creek Falls by locals — are hidden away just down the hillside from a narrow gravel parking pull-off on the side of Mardis Mill Road. The walk down is easy for young and old alike. If it’s damp out, the rocks can be a little slippery, so be careful.
Pro Tip: When visiting the town of Blountsville, save some time to check out the Blountsville Historical Park and explore the historic homes, cabins, and churches that date back to the early 1800s and are furnished with period artifacts.
Audubon Bird Sanctuary
Length: 3.4-Mile Easy Loop
There is a whole lot of nature packed into the easy walking 3.4-mile rambling loop hike on Dauphin Island’s Audubon Bird Sanctuary. The trail here loops around beautiful sparkling lakes, turtle-filled wetlands, and along the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.
Fall is the best time to hike the sanctuary because the island is a major destination for migrating birds from Canada and across the U.S. as they head to the warmer climbs for the winter, and not just a few. Tens of thousands of them. Dauphin Island has been called “America’s Birdiest City.”
Pro Tip: There is plenty to do off the trail on Alabama’s barrier island including kayaking adventures, fishing, an aquarium and sea research lab to explore, and history at historic Fort Gaines to name only a few.
Cheaha State Park, Delta
Length: 0.7-Mile Moderate Out-And-Back
We have to get a little leaf peeping in and a wonderful little hike to do just that is this short walk to a rock outcropping called Pulpit Rock atop the state’s highest mountain, Cheaha.
The hike is a moderate walk over an extremely rock-strewn path but the view from the outcropping is sprawling and stunning. Just use caution on the bluff edge.
Doug Ghee Accessible Trail
Cheaha State Park, Delta
Length: 0.6-Mile Easy Out-And-Back
For people with mobility issues or small children who want to bathe in the fiery fall colors of Cheaha Mountain, then try Cheaha State Park’s Doug Ghee Accessible Trail.
The boardwalk is made of composite material with high railings that follow the ridge of the state’s tallest mountain and leads out to the edge of a rock outcropping with breathtaking 180-degree views of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.
Pine Beach Trail
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Gulf Shores
Length: 3.4-Mile Easy Out-And-Back
Heading into winter, the Alabama Gulf Coast offers up its snow — the snowy white beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. There is no better trail to hike to experience the Gulf beaches than the Pine Beach Trail at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge.
Along the trail, you will experience beautiful ancient oak trees draped in Spanish moss, maritime wetlands and forests, many species of birds and wildlife, and the pristine, and secluded, white beaches of the Gulf of Mexico that in the summer months become prime habitat for nesting loggerhead sea turtles.
Pro Tip: Dogs are not permitted in the wildlife refuge.
Little Smith Mountain Loop
Length: 0.9-Mile Moderate Loop
We wrap up the year with a stunning view. Scamper up and around the rock bluffs and boulders of Smith Mountain where you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Lake Martin from the summit. The view only gets better when you climb the fully restored 90-foot tall fire tower at the peak of the mountain for a 270-degree view of the lake.
Pro Tip: Lake Martin offers loads of fun and adventure and makes an excellent vacation destination any time of year with fishing, museums, kayaking, and more.
For more information on traveling to Alabama, check out these articles: