The best hiking trails in Alabama for each month of the year

Alabama is becoming the hiking destination for travelers around the world. No wonder with its incredible natural beauty – thundering waterfalls, rolling mountains and deep gorges.

No matter what time of year you visit or transit through Alabama, make time to stop and explore the state’s natural side on one of these spectacular hiking trails.

Guntersville Hikes

Lake Guntersville State Park’s many hiking trails make for the perfect spot for bald eagle viewing during Eagle Awareness Weekends.

Copyright: Joe Cuhaj


Guntersville State Park

Guntersville, Alabama

length varies

Located on the shores of the lake and town of the same name, Lake Guntersville State Park offers 36 miles of hiking and biking trails of varying length and difficulty that lead to incredible views and wildlife.

Visit the park beginning the penultimate weekend of January and take part in the annual Eagle Awareness Weekends, held over three consecutive weekends where conservationists and birders will lead panel discussions and take you on the trail to see and learn one of the most fascinating Bird species, the American bald eagle.

Pro tip: Lake Guntersville State Park has an incredible lodge perched high on a bluff. Most of the rooms in the lodge face the cliff and offer incredible lake views. Reserve early. The lodge fills up quickly in January.


stone cuts

Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville

Length: 2.4-Mile Moderate Loop

Hiking in Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville is amazing any time of the year, but in winter the park is quiet, peaceful and tranquil, the perfect time to hike through one of the region’s incredible geological features, the Stone Cuts.

The Stone Cuts are just that – a series of tall limestone walls worn away by the elements over the centuries. A combination of the South Plateau Loop, Mountain Mist Trail, Stone Cuts Trail and Sinks Trail takes you between the towering white cliffs and a short cave.

Pro tip: In addition to hiking in Monte Sano State Park, winter is a great time for stargazing at the Von Braun Astronomical Observatory, located right in the park. On Saturday nights the doors open to the public for a planetarium show, an informative speaker and after the show a view of the night sky through their telescopes.

Cheaha Falls

Cheaha Falls is a short, easy hike with a relaxing destination

Copyright: Joe Cuhaj


Cheaha Falls

Talladega National Forest, Delta

Length: 2.3 miles Easy round trip hike

Spring showers ignite Alabama’s many waterfalls, and one of the most popular and easiest to hike is Cheaha Falls in Talladega National Forest.

The waterfall itself is a 20 foot waterfall with a pool at the bottom, a beautiful and relaxing place if there ever was one.

The hike itself follows the relatively flat but rocky Chinnabee Silent Trail, which begins at the trail’s southern terminus and parking lot on the AL-281.


Walls of Jericho

distilling fork

Length: 6.4 miles return, moderate entry, difficult exit

The Walls of Jericho have been described as beautiful, fantastic, and amazing. The awards 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 reaching your destination, the walls of Jericho itself – a spectacular, high-walled limestone bowl gorge with an incredible waterfall at the top cascading down a hole in the rock finally shoots out through the bottom row of rocks far below.

Pro tip: This is at least a half-day hike, but allow a full day to be safe. You will be climbing down a gorge a little over 3 miles and what goes down has to come back up. Bring plenty of water, snacks and lunch. Be sure to wear comfortable but sturdy walking shoes.

The DeSoto Falls

Desoto Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Alabama.

Copyright: Joe Cuhaj


The DeSoto Falls


Length: 1.4 mile Moderate out and back trail

One of the tallest, most impressive, and probably the most visited waterfalls in Alabama is DeSoto Falls. The falls are in a separate northern segment of DeSoto State Park and not in the main park.

You can get stunning views of the falls by following this unmarked, rocky, 1.4-mile (2.2 km) round-trip trail that takes you close to the bottom of the falls. The turnaround for this trail is next to the West Fork of the Little River near the base of the falls. It’s a spectacular sight and you can get a little spray if the wind is right.

The hike is moderately difficult and very rocky. Sometimes you climb over boulders as you walk along the river bank. For more information on this trail with maps, visit the AllTrails app and website.


DeSoto Falls picnic area


Length: 0.2 mile ADA accessible out and back at picnic area

The easiest way to see DeSoto Falls, and one that’s perfect for smaller kids and is ADA accessible, is the 0.2-mile loop at DeSoto Falls Picnic Area off DeSoto Falls Road. The short stone and cement trail takes you to the rim of the falls with breathtaking views from the top of the roaring falls and the gorge. There are picnic tables and restrooms.

Pro tip: Although Alabama’s falls are typically fast-flowing, in times of drought they can be just a trickle, even DeSoto Falls.


Devil’s Den Via Chinnabee Silent Trail

Talladega National Forest, Delta

Length: 1.4-mile Moderate round trip

Everything that makes Talladega National Forest so beautiful can be seen along the Chinnabee Silent Trail and this hike to Devil’s Den – the shimmering waters of Cheaha Creek tumbling towards Lake Chinnabee with its many shoals, cascades and falls, an awe-inspiring one Views of Devil’s Den Gorge from high up on an elevated cliff walk, and best of all, many refreshing pools inviting you to take a dip in the cool mountain stream.

The hike begins at Lake Chinnabee Recreation Area with a U-turn on the walkway high above the gorge.

Pro tip: There is a small daily fee for parking in the recreation area.

Mardis Mill Waterfall

A view of the Mardis Mill waterfall

Image copyright: Julian Loftis /


Mardis Mill Falls


Length: 0.1 mile One way round trip

Okay, a hike to Mardis Mill Falls isn’t a challenging full day hike, but at the bottom of this short, easy trail is a spectacular 15ft high and 35ft wide boulder waterfall with one of the best easily accessible swimming holes in the area.

The falls — also known to locals as Graves Creek Falls — are tucked slightly off the hill by a narrow gravel park run off the side of Mardis Mill Road. The descent is easy for young and old. When it’s wet outside the rocks can be a bit slippery so be careful.

Pro tip: When visiting the town of Blountsville, take some time to visit Blountsville Historical Park and explore the historic homes, cottages, and churches, which date back to the early 19th century and are furnished with historical artifacts.

Audobon Bird Sanctuary

A portion of the trails at Audubon Bird Sanctuary lead to the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.

Copyright: Joe Cuhaj


Audubon Bird Sanctuary

Dauphin Island

Length: 3.4-mile easy loop

Nature abounds on the 3.4-mile (5.5 km) loop hike in Dauphin Island’s Audubon Bird Sanctuary. The trail here winds 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, as the island is a major destination for migratory birds from Canada and the US who head for the warmer climbs in winter, and not just a few. tens of thousands of them. Dauphin Island has been called “America’s Birdiest City”.

Pro tip: There’s plenty to do off the beaten track on Alabama’s barrier island, including kayaking adventures, fishing, an aquarium and marine research lab to explore, and history at historic Fort Gaines, to name a few.


The view from Pulpit Rock in Cheaha State Park is spectacular any time of the year, especially when the fall colors brighten the landscape.

Copyright: Joe Cuhaj



Cheaha State Park, Delta

Length: 0.7-mile Moderate round trip

We need to peek a little leaf in and do a wonderful little hike, to do just that is this short walk to a rocky outcrop called Pulpit Rock on the state’s highest mountain, Cheaha.

The hike is a moderate walk over an extremely rocky path, but the views from the outcrop are sweeping and breathtaking. Just be careful on the cliffs.

Doug Ghee accessible path

Cheaha State Park, Delta

Length: 0.6 miles One way round trip

For those with mobility issues or young children who want to soak in Cheaha Mountain’s fiery fall colors, check out the Doug Ghee Accessible Trail at Cheaha State Park.

The boardwalk is constructed of composite material with high railings that follow the crest of the state’s tallest mountain and lead to the edge of a bluff with breathtaking 180-degree views of the southern Appalachians.


Pine Beach Trail

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, Gulf Coast

Length: 3.4 miles One way round trip

Heading into winter, Alabama’s Gulf Coast offers its snow—the snow-white beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. There’s no better trail to experience the Gulf Beaches than the Pine Beach Trail in Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge.

Along the trail you will witness beautiful old growth live oaks cloaked in Spanish moss, maritime wetlands and forests, many species of bird and wildlife, and the pristine and secluded white beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, which become prime habitat for loggerhead nesting during the summer months hawksbill turtles.

Pro tip: Dogs are not permitted in the game reserve.

Smith Mountain loop

A breathtaking view of Lake Martin from the Smith Mountain Loop Trail. You get an even better view from the trail’s fire tower.

Copyright: Joe Cuhaj


Little Smith Mountain Loop

Jackson’s gap

Length: 0.9 miles moderate loop

We end the year with a breathtaking view. Climb up and around the bluffs and boulders of Smith Mountain, where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Lake Martin from the summit. The view only gets better when you climb the fully restored 90-foot (27 m) Fire Tower at the top of the mountain for a 270-degree view of the lake.

Pro tip: Lake Martin offers tons of fun and adventure and is a great year-round vacation destination with fishing, museums, kayaking and more.

For more information on traveling to Alabama, see these articles:

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