9+ Amazing Hiking Trails in North Alabama

North Alabama is full of outdoor activities and amazing hikes. Top hikes include state parks, national forests and waterfalls — and we’ve gathered some of the best to make it easy for you to plan your next adventure!

9+ Amazing Hiking Trails in North Alabama
Cherokee Rock Village photo courtesy of Scott Baker for Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association

Favorite North Alabama Hikes

Spanning the state’s 16 northernmost counties, the North Alabama landscape includes rivers, canyons, forests and caves. This is where the Appalachian Mountain range begins, and from the peaks of its foothills to the depths of ancient canyons — the assortment of trail options comes as a surprise to many.

Exploring this diverse landscape is a favorite pastime for locals…as well as for visitors. Whether you’re looking for a serious challenge or a refreshing outing, the abundance of trails here appeals to hikers of all skill levels.

Bankhead National Forest (Double Springs)

Bankhead National Forest is an expanse of forested habitat comprising 180,000 acres of public land which includes deep canyons, open fields and pine and hardwood forests. 

There are several options for memorable day hikes from trailhead picnic areas, with a favorite being the Natural Bridge Picnic Area, a nearly half-mile paved trail which leads to an amazing natural rock archway in the forest. For those looking for a challenging backpacking experience, the Sipsey River Picnic Area and Trailhead is the place to start.

Monte Sano State Park (Huntsville)

Monte Sano State Park is known for its spectacular views from the ridge of the Cumberland Plateau as well as its outstanding hiking and mountain biking trails. There are 22 miles of scenic trails, with varying degrees of difficulty.

The park’s proximity to downtown Huntsville makes it a favorite for those who like to enjoy the metropolitan area, in addition to getting out on the trail.

Lake Guntersville State Park (Guntersville)

Lake Guntersville State Park has over 36 miles of hiking, biking and horse trails throughout its 6,000 acres of wooded land, with experiences ranging from lakeside and wildflower views to mountain climbs with seasonal waterfalls. Length varies from an easy .5 miles to 16 miles of rugged terrain.

Little River Canyon National Preserve (Fort Payne)

Little River Canyon National Preserve is known as one of North Alabama’s most picturesque spots and the variety of trails throughout the preserve give visitors plenty of ways to enjoy the views. 

Little River Falls is the largest of three named waterfalls in the preserve and a favorite site to see during any season of the year. There are short out-and-back trail options, and an arduous 16-mile trek through back country that connects the preserve and DeSoto State, and many options in between.

Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve (Tuscumbia)

Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve is a breathtaking 693-acre natural area with a diverse landscape including rolling hills and dramatic falls.

The highlight for hikers is the moderate trail which descends approximately 350 feet from ridge top to creek level. Scenery along the way includes canyon overlooks, wildflower areas and creek accesses.

DeSoto State Park (Fort Payne)

DeSoto State Park sits atop scenic Lookout Mountain and has more than 35 miles of hiking trails, including 11 miles of mountain bike trails.

On the trails, hikers encounter rock formations, small seasonal waterfalls and beautiful views of the West Fork of Little River, in addition to a variety of diverse plant communities and wildlife.

Buck’s Pocket State Park (Grove Oak)

Buck’s Pocket State Park, close to DeSoto State Park, is where you’ll find 15 miles of hiking and biking trails traversing a landscape that ranges from forested Creekside trails to rocky cliff overhang views. The park also boasts more than six miles of ORV trails. 

Bring the Furry Friends

Joe Wheeler State Park (Rogersville)

Joe Wheeler State Park encompasses 2,550-acres of land along the shores of the Tennessee River, which forms Wheeler Lake.

It is home to 16 miles of dog-friendly trails, with the longest ranging just under six miles, known as the Awesome Trail.

Best for Kids

Noccalula Falls Park (Gadsden)

Noccalula Falls Park is a great place for family fun and features a 90-foot waterfall and rock climbing opportunities in addition to 15 miles of hiking trails.

The falls are named for the daughter of a legendary Native American chief, who was “famed far and wide for her beauty and loveliness of character.”

Wheelchair Accessibility

While there are many accessible areas for outdoor activities in North Alabama, on this list and beyond, Little River Canyon National PreserveDeSoto State Park and Noccalula Falls each have outstanding trail sections for wheelchair users. North Alabama also has an online resource for other outdoor wheelchair-friendly activities.

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9+ Amazing Hiking Trails in North Alabama