Alabama is known for its fantastic scenery and diverse wildlife, making the hiking experience something not to miss. This state showcases impressive natural wonders, lush forests, beautiful waterfalls, open prairies, sandy beaches, and panoramic views. Alabama has something to offer every hiker, whether you wish to go on an easy, moderate, or challenging hike.
Easy Alabama hikes: Little River Canyon, Alum Hollow Trail, and Sougahoagdee Falls. Moderate hikes: Laurel Falls and Lost Falls Trails Loop, Kings Chair Loop, and Rainbow Mountain Trail Loop. Challenging hikes: The Walls of Jeriko Trail, Cheaha Moutain via Lake Trail, and Skyway Loop Trail.
Alabama hikers are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a hiking trail in this scenic state. Opinions may differ on what makes for a good hiking trail, and with so many different options available, it might be hard to decide on your own. The following list of some of Alabama’s most spectacular hiking trails should help make these difficult decisions easier.
What Makes Hiking In Alabama So Special?
Alabama houses around 1,500 miles of inland waterways and amazingly diverse geography. Including mountainous northern regions, coastal plains, and numerous streams, lakes, rivers, and creeks, with 67% of the land covered by forests. This diversity makes hiking in this state a one-of-a-kind adventure.
The Alabama Hiking Project has recorded over 1328 miles of trail with 532 different trail routes for hiking. They have further split the trail routes into 238 easy trails, 239 intermediate trails, and 55 challenging trails. This information shows that when it comes to hiking, Alabama has something to offer any hiker, no matter your skill-set or experience level.
Whether you wish for a pleasant scenic stroll with the family or a strenuous hike for spectacular views, Alabama has something on offer for you. With so much on offer, the hard part becomes choosing which trail or trails you will hike. Many of these trails accommodate cyclists or canine family members, as long the latter is on a leash.
Easy Hiking Trails In Alabama
For those who are either new to hiking or don’t hike that often, a simpler, less strenuous trail would be more beneficial and enjoyable. Unchallenging trails are also excellent choices for family hiking, especially if you have some younger children accompanying you. Luckily Alabama has its fair share of easy hiking trails. Listed below are some of the more spectacular ones.
Little River Canyon, Little River Canyon National Preserve
Situated in the stunning Little River Canyon National Preserve, located in the Southern Appalachians, along Cumberland Plateau’s southern edge, is the Little River Canyon Trail. The trail is 1.7-miles long and meanders past the river and waterfall, typically taking around 42 minutes to complete the route. The elevation change of this trail is not too bad at only 200 feet.
This trail is an out-and-back hike where you will pass stunning scenery, including cascading waterfalls and beautiful clear creeks. This well-traveled and trafficked trail is perfect for the whole family and hikers of all levels. Your dog can even accompany you on this trail as long as you keep your furry friend on the leash.
There are several other activities that you can participate in along this trail, including swimming spots and animal and plant spotting, to name a few.
Sougahoagdee Falls, William B Bankhead National Forest
Situated in the Bankhead National Forest is the trail to Sougahoagdee Falls. This forest is one of Alabama’s four national forests, located on the northernmost side of the state. The path leading to Sougahoagdee Falls is popular and has moderate traffic on good days. It is an out-and-back trail, which is 3.5 miles long and typically takes the average hiker around an hour and 54 minutes to complete.
This trail is lovely and shady and has good markings along the route. It is relatively flat most of the way. The course boasts spectacular scenery along its path, ending at the stunning Sougahoagdee Falls. Dogs are welcome along this route as long you keep them on their leash. It is a perfect hiking trail for hikers of any skill and would be a fantastic adventure for the whole family.
Alum Hollow Trail, Green Moutain Nature Reserve
You can find Alum Hollow Trail in the Green Mountain Nature Reserve near Huntsville. This trail is an out-and-back hike that is 2.1 miles long and typically takes around an hour to complete. Generally, the Alum Hollow Trail has a lot of foot traffic in all weather conditions. Some of you might wish for a longer hike, and some great trails are accessible from the Alum Hollow Trail, such as the West Plateau, East Plateau, or Talus Trails.
The highlights of this hike are the Alum Caves; an overhang said to have been used for shelter by Native Americans. The end of the hike showcases its fantastic views of the Alum Falls, making the walk well worth it.
This trail is easy and suitable for hikers of all levels and family-friendly. There might be some areas where smaller children will need a bit of help, but otherwise, it is a relatively easy hike. Your dogs are welcome to accompany you along this route as long as they remain on their leashes.
Moderate Hiking Trails In Alabama
The great thing about hiking in Alabama is that there are so many hiking trails that an option is available to suit all levels. So if you are looking for a hiking trail that is a bit tougher than the easy ones, have no fear Alabama hiking will accommodate you. The below list includes a couple of charming moderate hiking trails.
Laurel Falls And Lost Falls Trails Loop, DeSoto State Park
You can find the Lost Falls and Laurel Falls Trails in Desoto State Park, close to Fort Payne. The trails that make up this loop are accessible all year round and are roughly 2.9 miles long. The typically heavily trafficked loop should take you around 2 hours to complete. The best way to walk this loop would be to take the Orange-Blazed Trail until you reach the Lost Falls and then turn left onto the Blue-Blazed Trail, which will take you back to the car park.
Hiking this trail can be fun for hikers used to moderate trails and families that don’t have tiny children accompanying them. The track is relatively rocky and rooty and is often muddy in places, making it a moderate hike. You can also bring along your dogs as long as they remain on their leashes.
The sites along this trail include beautiful wildflowers, fantastic birdlife, Needles Eye Rock, Laurel Creek and Falls, and Lost Falls. The spur which leads to the Laurel Falls is unmarked so keep your ear out for the sound of the falls. Lost Falls gets its name because it is hard to find the Falls during particular seasonal periods, such as winter when the falls freeze and summer when they dry up.
Kings Chair Loop, Oak Moutain State Park
You can locate the Kings Chair Loop inside Oak Mountain State Park near Pelham. This beautiful loop is roughly 4.2 miles long and should take around 2 hours to complete, with an elevation gain of approximately 735 feet. Just a heads up, this trail is generally heavily trafficked.
The best way to hike this loop would be to start at the North Trailhead and take the Blue Trail hiking to Kings Chair and then continue back along the Blue Trail until you get to the Red-Blue connector onto the Red Trail back to the trailhead.
This loop can get quite steep with some tricky creek crossings in some places, so many classify it as a moderately difficult hiking trail. The trail features spectacular wildflowers, amazing views from Kings Chair, and good bird watching. This trail is well suited to people with a few hiking skills. Although the whole family can enjoy it, it is probably not suited to tiny children. Dogs are welcome on this hike as long as you keep them on their leashes.
Rainbow Mountain Trail Loop, Rainbow Mountain Preserve
You can find the Rainbow Mountain Loop Trail near Madison in the Rainbow Mountain Preserve. The heavily trafficked loop is around 1.5 miles long and should take approximately 50 minutes to complete. The optimal place to start this loop is from the gravel parking lot.
Travel along the Rainbow Mountian Loop to the balanced rock, one of the loops’ main attractions. At around ¾ of a mile down, you will reach the lowest part of the trail, where it intersects with the Spring Trail. After this part, you will start to make your way upwards again until you reach the Ja Moo Koo Loop Trail. Then the trail will turn southeast, passing the Spring Trail and the Wild Trail’s tops before going back towards the parking lot.
This trail loop is classified as a moderate trail and encompasses lots of rocky terrains, and can sometimes become muddy and slippery. Suitable for a workout and fun for someone who has a bit of hiking skill. Families with older children might enjoy this hike, and they can take along their dogs for company.
Challenging Hiking Trails In Alabama
Hiking can be a rather extreme sport if you choose the correct trails. Steep inclines and descents, rocky terrains, and overall hard climbing are all aspects that can make for a challenging hiking trail. For those hikers who thrive on this kind of experience, Alabama has something to offer you. Listed below is a selection of Alabama’s more challenging hiking trails.
The Walls Of Jeriko Trail
Located outside of Estillfork, you can find the Walls Of Jeriko Trail. This trail is one of Alabama’s hiking gems, and the 8-mile long hike takes roughly four and a half hours to complete. This out-and-back hike is typically heavily trafficked. The best time to hike along this trail is between March and November.
This trail is not for beginner hikers but is considered a challenging hike, and luckily it is pretty well marked and well planned with an elevation gain of around 1350 feet. The hike down to the spectacular waterfall is relatively easy. However, it does encompass several switchbacks along the way, and from there, you can explore the underground cavern and even an old cemetery. The hike back up is more strenuous and can be slippery if it has rained recently.
This hike should be a relative breeze for an experienced hiker and suitable for families with older children. Dogs and horses are also welcome along this trail.
Cheaha Moutain Via Lake Trail, Cheaha State Park
You can locate Lake Trail in the Cheaha State Park near Delta. This out-and-back trail is roughly 3.3 miles long and typically takes around 2 hours to complete, with an elevation of approximately 1130 feet. Cheaha Moutain is about 2400 feet above sea level and one of Alabama’s highest points.
With lots of inclines, exposed roots, and often downed trees, this trail is not light-hearted and is deemed problematic. The main attraction of this trail is its spectacular views from the cliff and the lake, which you can use as a way to cool off after your hike there. This trail is also suitable for bird watching and is best suited to skilled hikers or families with older children who are used to hiking. Dogs are allowed on the trail as long as you keep them on their leashes.
Skyway Loop Trail, Talladega National Forest
You can find the Skyway Loop Trail in the Talladega National Forest near Ashland. This trail loop is roughly 17.2 miles long and has an elevation of around 2950 feet. Typically this trail takes approximately 9 hours to complete and has moderate foot traffic.
If hiking this trail counter-clockwise, you would start at the Adams Gap Trailhead, walking down until you start on the Pinhotti Trail. Stay on this trail for roughly 6 miles before turning left onto the Chinnabee Silent Trail, hiking 5.4 miles until you reach Lake Chinnabee. You join back onto the Skyway Loop Trail just before Lake Chinnabee walking 5.1 miles to join the Pinhotti Trail once again, turning left and hiking 0.2 miles to get back to the Adams Gap Trailhead.
This hike is best suited to skilled hikers and their dog companions. There are some challenging parts to this loop and some easy ones. Luckily there are some great camping spots along the way so that you could turn this hike into a two or three-day adventure.
Alabama has a variety of excellent hiking trails to choose from, whether you are looking for an easy hike for the whole family or moderate hike to get a bit of exercise in, or even a more challenging experience that requires a better skill set. Which trail you choose to hike will depend on your skill-set and what kind of experience you are seeking.