Time to get active – best hiking trails in Hunstville

Spring is coming! It’s time to get active, feel the sun on your skin (read about Vitamin D benefits here) and explore the nature. Nature does good to your physical health, but even more importantly, to your mental health. It’s so important to lead an active life, keep an active mind and active body and that’s why we’re bringing you top hiking trails in Huntsville.

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For those who have lived in the Western part of the U.S. you are going to soon realize that Alabama is not a hiking paradise found in places like Utah, Colorado, Arizona, California or Montana, but then again not many places in the world can compete with the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Alabama does offer many easy to moderate hiking trails throughout the state and most of the good ones are located in the northern part of Alabama, not too far from Huntsville. In fact, most of the good hiking trails are within a few hour’s drive from the city. I have broken them down into two categories. The first being within a several hour’s drive from Huntsville and the second list being trails within Madison County.

Hiking Within A Few Hour’s Drive

1. Dismals Canyon National Natural Landmark

 

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Dismals Canyon was by far our favorite hiking trail. It was not too long of hike but just enough to get your blood pumping and enjoy the surrounding. The main trail is just under 2 miles but well worth the trip. The hike was pretty easy as we saw a lot of families with smaller kids partaking in the adventure. The moss filled cave walls, unique rock formations, towering boulders, sky-reaching trees and waterfall are breath taking, so make sure you pack your camera.

Since this is consider a national landmark, there is a small admission fee of $12 per adult and $8.75 for children under 12. They have a guided night tour if you are interested in seeing the glowworms inside the cave.

See Map here

2. Jericho Trail

Jericho Trail

Jericho Trail is considered a moderate to light-difficult hiking trail. It is listed at the top of my list because it is very scenic and host a nice waterfall at the highlight of the trail. Because of its popularity, it has heavy traffic on the weekends. For a more peaceful hike, try going on the weekdays. Because of its steep trails, I would not recommend this hike for younger children. The trail is well marked with red dots on the trees and host several places to sit down for a short rest. It is pretty easy on the way down but can be a bit challenging making your way back up the mountain. It is roughly 8.5 miles round trip and takes about 1.5 hours going down and 2 hours back up if you are in pretty good shape. Down towards the waterfall it can get a bit slippery and muddy so make sure you are wearing a good pair of hiking boots. Sneakers do not do as well as they have poor traction compared to hiking boots, especially when there is mud. The waterfall is a 40 ft. drop and is rain dependent. If you want to see the waterfall flowing, it is best to go in the spring as summers with a long drought will cause the waterfall to dry up. Dogs are allowed and bring your swimming suit as the swimming hole is refreshing and host a beautiful blue/green color.

See Map here

3. Bankhead National Forest – Sougahoagdee Falls

 

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Bankhead National Forest is also one of my favorite places to hike. It has many trails and waterfalls, most of them following the Sipsey River which is nearly clear year round with beautiful blue green water and white sandy shores. Bring your swimming outfit if you are into swimming. The main trail leads to a beautiful waterfall, Sougahoagdee Falls which takes about a 2.5 mile hike. The National forest also offers many other trails with smaller waterfalls along the river. This trail is considered from easy to light-moderate. Most of the trail is pretty flat except when you get closer to the waterfall. It can be difficult for younger kids but your teens will enjoy it. It tends to get slippery at times where the rocks are wet and there can be a lot of down trees to climb over but overall it is not too difficult to hike or to navigate. There are a lot of mossy rocks, big bolder formations, wild ferns, cave overhangs and beautiful grandfather Hemlock trees scattered along the river.

See Map here

4. Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve

 

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Located near Tuscumbia, Alabama is Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve, an adventurous 8.2 mile hiking trail. Since it is pretty popular, it can have heavily traffic on the weekends, especially on the loop trail. It features a nice waterfall and well maintained hiking trail. The land is privately owned but the trail is free to all visitors as they have partnered with the Nature Conservancy of Alabama. The trail is easy to light-moderate. It offers a number of activity options and is best used from February until October. Dogs are also allowed on this trail (must be on a leash). There are a couple of rock shelters along the canyon wall and archeological evidence have indicated early human settlements.

See Map here

5. Little River Canyon

Little River Canyon is considered a top attraction for Alabama due to the beautiful waterfall, therefore it is pretty well trafficked on the loop trail. The park is located in the Fort Payne area and the main trail is an easy 2 mile hike. It is considered an easy trail but can get slippery near the large waterfall. The park allows dogs on a leash and for those who prefer can bring their mountain bikes for some adventurous off roading trails.

See Map here

Hiking trails in Madison County

1. Monte Sano – Stone Cuts Trail

My top ranked hiking trail located in Madison County is Monte Sano State Park. These trails sit a few miles from downtown Huntsville. The park host over two dozen trails, the most popular being Stone Cuts Trail. This trail is about 2.5 miles and is considered light-moderate. The main feature of the trail is the huge rock formation and cave shelter. It is well-worth the hike and can be extended with many other exceptional trails. The park is open year-round and costs $5 per person. Dogs are allowed if on a leash.

See Map here

2. Green Mountain Nature Preserve

 

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Green Mountain has been a family favorite trail of ours for years. It is an easy trail with the main trail wrapping around the beautiful 17-acre sky lake. It has a beautiful covered bridge for photos and a nice pavilion for picnics and large gatherings. The trail is well-maintained and great for beginners or for those who want a relaxing hike.

See Map here

3. Blevins Gap

Breathtaking view from the top of Blevins Gap

For a nature trail located in the heart of Huntsville, this is a wonderful getaway spot. Located on top of Cecil Ashburn Drive, the 994-acre natural preserve is one of my family’s favorite place to get exercise and to clear the mind. This trail can be pretty muddy at the lower part during the winter and spring months but is pretty flat and dry when you get to the summit. When you are on top mountain, there is a fantastic view of Jones Valley on one side and another bluff view of Hampton Cove on the opposite side. I would consider this trail as light-moderate. Not very kid-friendly for smaller children but a must for teenagers and those that want to bring their pets. There is a longer trailhead at the bottom of the mountain with access behind the Church of Nazarene but this trail is a pretty long hike – approximately 4.5 miles. The top entrance is trail is much shorter, perhaps a few miles long. The trailhead is open from dawn to dusk.

See Map here

4. Bethel Spring Nature Trail

 

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Bethel is located on a 360 acre preserve on Keep Mountain. The loop trail is about 2 miles long and has a nice creek with a beautiful view of the farmland below. The highlight of the trail is Madison County’s largest waterfall well worth the short hike. There is room for about 20 cars in the free parking lot. This trail is an easy trail but can be really slippery by the waterfall and the wet rocks.

See Map here

5. Rainbow Mountain Trail

 

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Rainbow Mountain is another loop trail. Very easy to navigate. We used to take our four kids on this trail when they were toddlers. While the trail does not offer a unique feature, it does offer some rock formations for the kids to explore and have fun. The trail can be a little muddy at times so if you bring the kids make sure they wear boots.

See Map here

6. Alum Hollow Trail

 

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Not to confuse with Green Mountain Nature Preserve, Alum Hollow Trail is owned by the Land Trust of Alabama. It can be heavily trafficked at times on weekends but is fairly an easy trail for all hikers. The trail is mainly flat until you get to the final descent. The trail does host a nice waterfall and a cave. Bring your boots as it will get slippery along the waterfall. This is a great trail for the local area with many good views to take pictures.

See Map here

Originally published on huntsvillescoop.com

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