Huntsville, Alabama, also known as Rocket City, is much more than a big tech and aerospace center. It also has incredible green spaces that offer visitors to the city a chance to experience beautiful panoramic views, fascinating geological features, and thundering waterfalls.
There is only one way to access the incredible outdoor wonders of the area and that is by throwing your boots on and hiking. Here are nine of the best hikes in the Huntsville area.
For each of these hikes, be sure to take plenty of water with you (especially in the hot summer months) regardless of the distance you travel, and although many of the trails listed here run alongside springs and springs. streams, be sure to filter the water before drinking.
1. Stone sizes
Monte Sano State Park
Head to the top of Monte Sano mountain at state park of the same name to explore the fascinating geology of the Stone Cuts.
Four trails – the South Plateau Loop, the Wells Trail, the Stone Cuts Trail, and the North Plateau Loop – lead you to a moderate 2.4 mile loop hike that passes through dramatic rock formations and narrow tunnels. which formed millions of years ago when a shallow ocean once covered the earth. As the land began to rise and the ocean receded, the shoals of seashells and coral reefs remained high and dry. Once they dried, the limestone they left behind was eroded by the elements in what is called karst geology, creating the many sinkholes, caverns, outcrops and cuts that you can explore today.
Pro tip: The hardest part of this trip is the climb back up to the North Plateau Loop, otherwise it’s a fun exploration trip. The hike begins at the main hikers parking lot on Nolen Drive. Monte Sano State Park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Tent and RV camping are available. Visit the park’s website for the latest fee schedule.
2. Lost sink
Keel Mountain Nature Reserve
There are even more spectacular examples of karst geology to visit in Huntsville, including the Lost Sink at Keel Mountain Nature Reserve.
The “sink” is exactly as the name suggests – a 100 foot vertical sinkhole. The dark and gloomy limestone walls covered in moss of the chasm come to life with a beautiful waterfall cascading down its walls, showing that it is still a work in progress.
The hike to see the falls and the sink is a beautiful but rugged 2.2 mile round trip hike over slabs and boulders. The hike is rated as moderate difficulty, but the payoff is well worth it.
Keel Mountain is a 310-acre expanse owned and managed by the Nature conservation. The reserve was created to protect endangered species Morefield’s Leather Flower, a beautiful climbing plant with purple bell-shaped flowers.
Pro tip: The reserve is located 16 miles southeast of Huntsville in Gurley. Entrance to the reserve is free. Use extreme caution at the sinkhole. It’s a steep drop down. The trail is well marked with medallions from Nature Conservancy.
3. Neversink Pit Cave Reserve
Many words have been used to describe Neversink pit: superb, Amazing, unbelievable. They are all true.
Like Lost Sink, Neversink Pit is a sinkhole 162 feet deep and 40 feet wide. What makes it more than just a hole in the ground is the incredible beauty of the site with its fern-fringed edge and waterfall tumbling down moss-covered walls. Neversink really lights up in the spring when the scene is framed by dark greenery and blossoming mountain laurels.
The hike to Neversink is only a 1 mile round trip, but it is rated as difficult, with an elevation gain of 338 feet in the half mile of walk to your destination. It’s a steady, rocky climb to the top.
Pro tip: Neversink Pit is located about an hour east of Huntsville. Unless you are an experienced climber with vertical caving skills, don’t try to descend into the pit! And if you are experienced, you still need a special permit to climb. If you want to walk to the pit, you need to get a surface permit of Southeast Caves Conservatory. The permit is free, but consider donating anything you can to help conservation protect the area’s caves. When you get there, stay clear of the edge.
4. Bethel Spring Nature Reserve
When it comes to protecting green spaces in the booming city of Huntsville, no other organization does it better than the Northern Alabama Land Trust (LTNA). It currently has nine preserves scattered throughout the region and Bethel Spring (as of this writing) is his latest.
The highlight of a Bethel Spring hike is the shimmering segmented waterfall at the north end of the 2 mile double loop that tumbles down its rock face on several routes into a 334 foot vertical cave.
Even if you don’t do the moderate hike to the waterfalls, the first (and easier) loop is a great getaway to relax as it winds along the babbling spring with several benches where you can sit and lose yourself in the sound of the water sparkling.
Pro tip: The best way to walk to the waterfall is to hike counterclockwise. It’s less difficult.
5. Monte Sano Nature Reserve
Another great Northern Alabama Land Trust hike is on the west side of Mount Sano mountain in the nature reserve of the same name. Take your pick of trails to create a seemingly endless variety of hikes to massive rocky cliffs, tumultuous springs, fields of wildflowers, a waterfall or two, and a bit of history at the three cave quarry and old school source house.
the trails difficulty ranges from easy to difficult, with six trailheads scattered around the perimeter of the reserve, so it’s easy to customize your hike for the day.
Pro tip: The Bankhead Trailhead on Artie Street SW is the main parking lot on the reserve and can get very busy on weekends. Consider using one of the others.
6. Loop of the trays
Monte Sano State Park
Across the mountain at Monte Sano State Parkyou will find this double loop hike fun and easy.
This 5.4 mile double loop is an easy hike that uses both the north and south loops of the plateau. The 1.9 mile North Plateau Loop takes you past historic Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) structures and right next to the trailhead two seasonal waterfalls – Lodge Falls and McKay Hollow Falls.
The 3.5 mile South Rim Loop takes you to lovely views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, especially the rocky outcrop known as O’Shaughnessy Point.
Both trails are stone and dirt trails that start at the hikers parking lot on Nolen ave, so it’s easy to do just one or both trails.
Pro tip: Restrooms are available in the picnic areas along the North Plateau Loop. Don’t miss the weekly show at the Von Braun Observatory. Every Saturday evening, the Von Braun Astronomical Society hosts a planetarium show with special guests and (weather permitting) a view of the stars through telescopes. Make it a weekend adventure by staying at the park camping.
7. Blevins Gap
Blevins Gap is another Land Trust of North Alabama parcel. The reserve stretches over two tracts totaling 1,086 acres and is divided in two into a northern and southern section. The southern section is best known for its splendid views of the mountains and the Huntsville valley and is a great 2.8 mile hike.
Start your journey on the Bill and Marion Certain Trail from the Blevins Gap trailhead on Cecil Ashburn Drive SE. It’s a moderate to difficult climb (1,500 feet of elevation gain over half a mile) to the top of the ridge and from there an easy 0.9 mile hike to the connection with the West Bluff Trail and from where you will get your first sight. a point of view. Join the West Bluff Trail to return to the trailhead and get another view, this time of the west side of the ridge.
Pro tip: The start of the trail can get very crowded on the weekends. The trails are shared with mountain bikers so keep your eyes peeled.
8. The walls of Jericho
When you ask an Alabamian where the best place to hike in the state is, a handful of trails spring to mind, but the one that usually tops the list is the The walls of Jericho.
Located an hour northeast of Huntsville, the Walls (which is actually in Tennessee just across the state border) is an incredible bowl canyon, more like an amphitheater, in fact, with limestone walls 200 feet high. At the north end, a ribbon of water cascades down a hole in the rock face, disappearing into the cave before springing out of a crevice at the bottom.
The 6.4-mile round-trip hike starts at the trailhead on the AL 79 and takes you through deep sinkholes, through a few turquoise streams and an ancient cemetery before heading into the canyon itself.
Pro tip: The upper waterfall is accessed by climbing the limestone wall at the north end of the canyon, but it is very slippery so be careful. Bring plenty of water, snacks, and lunch for the hike. It’s a good 5 hour minimum hike (and that’s without exploring) and a steep incline on the way out.