Dog parents: the only group of people more frequent than rocket scientists in the Rocket City. And I’m here to confirm that the area is a pet owner’s dream.
That’s because dog parks dot the metro Huntsville area and there are plenty of pet-friendly patios to grab a brew while your four-legged friends chill out. We are also discovering glorious places to get out and enjoy some nature while burning off the COVID-19 (pounds) with the kids (pets) in tow.
As the proud dad to three very energetic rescues, I am always on the hunt for places to explore on the weekends while enjoying time with the boys: Leo, Harvey & Noah.
Since making a move to Huntsville in 2020, we have tackled dozens of trail miles crisscrossing our way across North Alabama.
I’m sharing my top five list (in no particular order) of dog-friendly hikes within a 30-minute drive from downtown Huntsville in hopes you will be inspired to tackle them with man’s best friend tagging along. Trust me your pup will thank you and you will be pleasantly surprised and your social media friends will be jealous of all the incredible things you discover and post about along the way!
1. Atkeson Trail: The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge
A short drive across the Tennessee River from Huntsville lands you in one of the area’s most unique and thriving wildlife areas: The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.
We found the Flint Creek Trail to be a perfect quick loop. The 1.5 mile scenic trail takes you through old oak and hickory forest. The trail is open daily, daylight hours only.
2. The Rainbow Loop Trail: Rainbow Mountain
Rising from the flat ground that surrounds it, Rainbow Mountain in the City of Madison is a nature-lover’s paradise, and your pups will love to frolic on the big boulders along the way. This Land Trust of North Alabama preserve offers more than three miles of trails.
3. Devil’s Racetrack: Wade Mountain Greenway Trail
Madison County, Alabama
The 855-acre Wade Mountain Nature Preserve provides hikers plenty of space for a dose of natural wonder and a great reason to practice some social distancing.
The 11 miles of the Wade Mountain trail system is easily accessed from the Spragins Hollow Trailhead or on the other side of the mountain at the Pulaski Pike Trailhead. We picked the Bostick Trail loop on our last visit, but there are plenty of choices for any length of hike you are looking for.
4. Keel Mountain Preserve
Madison County, Alabama
As you step on the trail at Keel Mountain Preserve, you are immediately immersed in the forest. Your hike takes you up Keel Mountain along limestone bluffs. The best part: coming across a cascading waterfall flowing into a sinkhole before the water disappears underground. The area has been dubbed by local residents as the “lost sink.”
5. The Wildflower Trail: Monte Sano Nature Preserve
The 1.25-mile long Wildflower Trail follows a rocky creek bed up the drainage within a few miles of downtown Huntsville in the Blossomwood neighborhood. You can access Wildflower Trail directly from Cleermont Trailhead (506 Cleermont Drive, Huntsville)
Of course, as any dog parent knows, keep your pups on a leash while on the trails, bring plenty of poop bags and be a good neighbor! We have found the most annoying thing about taking your dogs with you on a hike around this part of the state: getting tied up along the trail with all the other hikers wanting formal introductions with the pups, and the bonus swapping dog stories. The delays though are a wonderful way to build community and meet other outdoor, dog-eccentric people. We are truly a different breed.