5 Alabama hiking trails you need to check out today for spectacular views, exciting wildlife + more

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View From Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve, Alabama Hiking Trials
Ruffner Mountain offers some of the best views of Birmingham. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bama Buzz

It’s easy to stay active when you’re surrounded by gorgeous views and one-of-a-kind wildlife. If you’re looking for motivation to get moving this summer, set out on one of these Alabama hiking trails across the state.

1. Walls of Jericho

Out of all Alabama hiking trails, the Walls of Jericho is best known for its significant biological diversity. From green salamanders, blue-winged warblers and mountain chorus frogs to beautiful flora and fauna like yellow lady’s slipper and Dutchman’s breeches, you’re transported to a whole new world.

  • Best for: Anyone up for a challenge! The 1000-foot climb back up to the trailhead and 6-mile roundtrip isn’t easy, but the mountains, springs, caves and wildlife make it well worth it. You can also find horseback riding, camping, fishing and more outdoor activities in the area.
  • Directions to Hiking Trail Parking: From Scottsboro, take US 72 West approximately 4.8 miles to AL-79. Turn right on to AL- 79 and travel north approximately 26 miles to the hiking trail parking lot.
  • More information: Website | Map

2. Wind Creek State Park

There’s a lot to discover at Wind Creek State Park, including wildlife. Since it’s a stop on  Alabama’s Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail, all trails offer waterfowl, raptors and songbirds. If you’re in the mood for something a little more high-stakes, venture out on a trip to the “Chimney Rock” or take it easy and soak in the shoreline views.

  • Best for: Campers, families and lake lovers. It is one of the largest state-owned campgrounds in the United States and includes public access to Lake Martin.
  • Directions: Campground Rd, Alexander City, AL 35010
  • More information: Website | Map

3. Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail complex

Paved or unpaved—take your pick when you visit these diverse Gulf State Park trails. Rent a bike and cruise under the live oak trees draped in Spanish Moss. You might catch sight of a bobcat, alligator, otter or gopher tortoise. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to spot all the exciting wildlife along these Alabama hiking trails, you’re guaranteed to see the sparkling freshwater lakes.

  • Best for: Those who like to keep a leisurely pace over a mountainous expedition but are still looking to see some great sights. The entire Gulf State Park features 28 miles of paved trails or boardwalks, including seven in this complex.
  • Directions: 24037 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL 36561
  • More information: Website | Map

4. Keel Mountain Preserve

Keel Mountain Preserve, Alabama Hiking Trails
The sink on Keel Mountain Preserve. Photo via Matthew Kroschel for Bama Buzz

Dog-friendly and filled with adventure, hike along stunning limestone bluffs to reach a picturesque waterfall. There are more sights to appreciate on these Alabama hiking trails. The Nature Conservancy selected the area to preserve the federally-endangered Morefield’s leather flower. It’s also a great spot to see songbirds, owls and rare flowers.

  • Best for: Those with a nature bucket list. You can check off several, including seeing the “lost sink,” where a small waterfall disappears into a sinkhole, and the leather flower—found in only six populations.
  • Directions: Take Highway 72 east over Chapman Mountain. In the town of Gurley, turn right on Little Cove Road and then left on McMullen Road. Go 4 miles and keep left at an unmarked fork. The preserve is on the left.
  • More information: Website | Map

5. Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve

Since Ruffner Mountain is the third largest urban nature preserve in the country, the chance of you seeing something eye-catching during your visit is 100% guaranteed. In addition to supporting over 150 species of birds, other protected wildlife includes red fox, tree frogs, flying squirrels and coyotes. You’ll also enjoy some of the best views of Birmingham while on your hike.

  • Best for: Those looking for a getaway from city life for a few hours without taking off on a long expedition at other Alabama hiking trails. Since neither bicycles nor motorized vehicles are allowed on the trails, it’s a great place for a calm stroll or a more intense hike, depending on your skill level.
  • Directions: 1214 81st Street South, Birmingham, Alabama 35206
  • More information: Website | Map

Looking to fuel up after a long hike? Swing by one these unmissable farm-to-table restaurants in Alabama.

Stay on top of your health and safety this summer with help from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama by visiting AlabamaBlue.com. Or, follow them on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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Irene Richardson
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