City Hiking Guides

Exploring the Best Huntsville Hiking Trails

POSTED ON December 20, 2023 BY Ralph S.


Introduction

Welcome to the beautiful city of Huntsville, located in north Alabama. This rapidly growing city is known for its stunning nature and outdoor activities, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. One of the best ways to explore the breathtaking scenery of Huntsville is by hitting up some of the local hiking trails.

Huntsville boasts a variety of trails that cater to all levels of hikers and are suitable for both residents and visitors alike. From the rugged terrains of Monte Sano Nature Preserve to the scenic trails at Monte Sano State Park, there is something for everyone in this charming city.

But it’s not just hikers who can enjoy these trails, as mountain bikers also flock to the Huntsville area to take on the challenging paths and scenic routes.

So, grab your hiking boots or mountain bike and get ready to discover some of the best Huntsville hiking trails that will take your breath away with their natural beauty.

Green Mountain Nature Preserve

Huntsville Welcome Sign

Nestled between Big Cove Creek and the Tennessee River, Green Mountain Preserve offers breathtaking views of the city and its pristine surroundings. If you want to soak in the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains but don’t have time for a long thru-hike, Green Mountain Preserve should be on your bucket list.

Here’s the best hike in the area:

Madison County Nature Trail

Madison County Lake, Alabama, USA

  • Location: Green Mountain Nature Preserve, Huntsville, AL
  • Distance: 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
  • Duration: Approximately 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail type: Loop

The Madison County Nature Trail at Green Mountain Nature Preserve is a perfect family-friendly hike that showcases the beauty of nature. This 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) loop trail takes approximately an hour to complete, making it a great option for a quick outdoor getaway.

As you embark on this well-maintained trail, you’ll be greeted by the sounds of nature and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The highlight of this hike is the large pond, perfect for fishing or simply admiring the turtles swimming in its crystal-clear waters. Along the way, you’ll also come across a charming covered bridge and even little fairy homes scattered throughout the trail.

Land Trust of Alabama: Monte Sano Nature Preserve

Land Trust Alabama

Located just five miles from the city center, Monte Sano Sp is a hiker’s paradise with over 20 miles (32 km) of meandering trails, including the Bree’s Spring hiking area, the South Plateau Loop Trail, the South Monte Sano Trailhead, and other trails. The trails range from beginner-friendly loops to challenging day hikes to the terraced rock formations, ideal for rock climbers and boulderers. The highlight of Monte Sano’s hiking trails is the nice view from the 1,600-foot (487-meter) summit, where you can enjoy the cityscape and the Tennessee Valley.

Here is a list of the best hiking trails in the park

Mountain Mist Trail

  • Location: Monte Sano Sp, Huntsville, AL
  • Distance: 3 miles (4.8 km)
  • Duration: Approximately 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail type: Loop

As one of the most popular trails in Monte Sano State Park, the Mountain Mist Trail offers a perfect mix of natural beauty and outdoor adventure. This 3-mile (4.8 km) loop trail is a favorite among hikers, bikers, and even families looking for a scenic picnic spot.

The trail starts at the historic Three Caves Quarry and winds through lush forests, rocky terrain, and charming streams. As you make your way up the trail, you’ll be greeted by stunning views of the surrounding valleys and mountains. The trail culminates at O’Shaughnessy Point, where you can take a break to admire the panoramic view of Huntsville below.

Wildflower Trail

A dirt path in the forest with sunlight shinning through the trees in Alabama

  • Location: Monte Sano State Preserve, Huntsville, AL
  • Distance: 0.6 miles (1 km)
  • Duration: Approximately 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail type: Out and back

The Wildflower Trail in Monte Sano State Park is a short but stunning hike that will take you through the beautiful forest and along a slippery and muddy creek. This 0.6-mile (1 km) loop trail is perfect for beginners or anyone looking for a quick nature walk.

The trail begins at the trailhead, where there is sufficient free parking available. As you make your way through the lush forest, be prepared to spot different types of wildflowers throughout the year. Along the way, you’ll also come across a small creek that can get quite slippery and muddy after rain, so be sure to wear appropriate footwear.

Land Trust of North Alabama: Three Caves Trails

  • Location: Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, AL
  • Distance: 3.2 miles (5.1 km)
  • Duration: Approximately 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail type: Loop

For a unique and moderately challenging hiking experience, look no further than the Three Caves Trail in Monte Sano State Park. This 3.2-mile (5.1-kilometer) out and back trail winds through the woods and former limestone quarry, offering hikers a chance to explore fascinating rock formations and discover hidden waterfalls.

As you make your way through the trail, be prepared to climb over rocky terrain and navigate through narrow paths that lead to stunning overlooks. The highlight of the Three Caves Trail is, of course, the three large caves that were once used for limestone mining and now serve as a popular spot for hikers to explore.

Sinks Trail

Madison County Lake, Alabama, USA

  • Location: Monte Sano Nature Preserve, Huntsville, AL
  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km)
  • Duration: Approximately 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail type: Out and back

The Sinks Trail in Monte Sano State Park is a short and easy hike that offers a perfect escape into the natural beauty of Alabama. This 1 mile (1.6 km) out and back trail is ideal for beginners or anyone looking for a quick nature walk in the woods.

As you make your way through this well-maintained trail, you’ll be surrounded by lush forests and stunning views of the valley below. The highlight of the Sinks Trail is, of course, the “sinks” themselves—a geological phenomenon where water sinks underground and resurfaces elsewhere. This unique feature makes for an interesting hiking experience as you make your way to the end of the trail, where you can take a break and admire the beauty of nature around you.

Bankhead Pkwy. Trailhead

  • Location: Monte Sano Nature Preserve, Huntsville, AL
  • Distance: 1.3 miles (2.1 km)
  • Duration: Approximately 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail type: Out and back

The Bankhead Trail is a 1.3-mile (2.1-kilometer) out and back trail located in Monte Sano Nature Preserve, Huntsville, AL. This easy hike is perfect for anyone looking to escape into the woods and take in the natural beauty of Alabama.

The trail starts at the Bankhead Trailhead to the Monte Sano north Plateau (location) and leads hikers through a peaceful forest, with glimpses of beautiful valleys along the way. It’s a relatively short hike that can be completed in about 45 minutes, making it a great option for a quick nature walk or even as part of a longer hiking trip through Monte Sano State Park.

As you make your way through the trail, keep an eye out for other hikers, mountain bikers, or even families enjoying a leisurely picnic in the woods.

North Plateau Loop

Alabama Hills

  • Location: Monte Sano Nature Preserve, Huntsville, AL
  • Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km)
  • Duration: Approximately 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail type: Loop

Located in the scenic Monte Sano State Park, the North Plateau Loop is a beautiful 2-mile (3.2 km) hike that offers a perfect escape into the woods of Alabama. This easy hike starts at the Monte Sano main trailhead parking area and loops back, making it easily accessible for hikers of all levels.

As you make your way through the trail, you’ll be surrounded by natural beauty at every turn. The peaceful forest and stunning views of the nearby valleys make for a tranquil hike that’s perfect for clearing your mind and reconnecting with nature. The North Plateau Loop is also popular among nature enthusiasts, so keep an eye out for other trail users as you make your way through this scenic route.

South Plateau Loop

  • Location: Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, AL
  • Distance: 3.3 miles (5.3 km)
  • Duration: Approximately 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail type: Loop

The South Plateau Loop in Monte Sano State Park is a 3.3-mile (5.3 km) hike that offers stunning views and a chance to explore the natural beauty of Alabama. Starting at the Monte Sano main Trailhead parking area, this moderate trail takes hikers on a loop through the south side of Monte Sano.

As you make your way through the South Plateau Loop, be prepared to navigate through rocky terrain and vertical inclines, making it a moderately challenging hike. However, the effort is well worth it, as you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the valleys below and opportunities to spot wildlife along the way.

Stone Cuts Trail

  • Location: Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, AL
  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km)
  • Duration: Approximately 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail type: Out and back

Nestled in the heart of Monte Sano State Park, the Stone Cuts Trail is a must-visit for any nature lover. This 1-mile (1.6 km) moderately challenging hike boasts stunning views of nearby valleys and unique rock formations that will leave you in awe.

The highlight of this trail is the “Stone Cuts”—the impressive rock overhangs that can be seen from a long-distance view. As you make your way through the trail, you’ll be surrounded by lush forests and tranquil nature sounds, making it the perfect escape from city life. The moderately challenging terrain adds an extra level of excitement to the hike as you navigate over rocky paths and take in the stunning scenery around you.

Wade Mountain Nature Preserve

Wade Mountain offers an immersive outdoor experience that combines both adventure and beauty. This state park takes you through lush forests, rocky terrains, serene creeks, and hidden waterfalls. The trails are also well-marked and offer a variety of challenges for different levels of experience. However, these trails are a bit advanced, and hikers are advised to carry hiking poles and sturdy hiking boots.

Here’s the most popular hike in the area

Wade Mountain Greenway loop

  • Location: Wade Mountain Nature Preserve, Huntsville, AL
  • Distance: 8.6 miles (14 km)
  • Duration: Approximately 3.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail type: Loop

The Wade Mountain Greenway Loop is a must-do hike for any outdoor enthusiast visiting the beautiful Wade Mountain Nature Preserve in Huntsville, AL. This moderately challenging 8.6-mile (14-kilometer) loop offers a combination of adventure and natural beauty, making it the perfect trail for those looking to immerse themselves in nature.

The loop starts at the Spragins Hollow Trailhead, taking you through lush forests with stunning views of hidden waterfalls and peaceful creeks along the way. Hikers can also bring their furry companions along, as the trail is dog-friendly and offers a great opportunity for dogs to enjoy the outdoors.

Blevins Gap Nature Preserve

Blevins Gap Nature Preserve is a popular destination for hikers in the Huntsville area, offering some of the best hikes and scenic views in Alabama. Located just minutes from downtown Huntsville, this nature preserve boasts over 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) of well-maintained trails that cater to all levels of hikers.

  • Blevins Gap: One of the most popular hikes in Blevins Gap is the Sugar Tree Trail, a 3-mile (4.8 km) loop that takes you through lush forests and provides stunning views of the surrounding valleys. For a more challenging hike, hikers can tackle Lover’s Peak, a steep trail that leads to the highest point in Blevins Gap with breathtaking panoramic views. For those looking for a peaceful and scenic hike, this trail offers a relaxing walk through tranquil woods with a resting bench at the end to take in the beautiful surroundings.
  • Neil Armstrong Mountain Trail: More experienced hikers can take on the Neil Armstrong Mountain Trail, named after the famous astronaut who trained on this very mountain.
  • Walsingham Connector Trailhead and Fanning Trail: For those looking to extend their hike, both the Walsingham Connector Trailhead and Fanning Trailhead provide access to the longer Fanning Trail, which offers even more stunning views and challenging terrain.
  • Land Trust Trails: If you want to explore the hidden gems of Huntsville’s backyard, the Land Trust Trails are a must-visit. The Land Trust trails include the three parks: Rainbow Mountain, Alum Hollow, and Green Mountain.

These trails offer a unique blend of ecological diversity, including cacti, alpacas, and an abundance of wildflowers. In addition, all these trails are dog-friendly, and visitors can bring their pets to enjoy the adventure.

Chapman Mountain Nature Preserve

Chapman Mountain Nature Preserve, also known as the “Sleeping Giant,” is another popular hiking destination in Huntsville. This 551-acre (2.2 square kilometers) nature preserve offers stunning views of Huntsville’s skyline and challenging trails for hikers of all levels. There are about 4.5 miles (7 km) of trails available for exploration.

Here are four of the popular trails around the park:

  • Moonshine Trail: For an easy hike with beautiful views, try the Moonshine Trail, which offers panoramic views of Huntsville from atop Chapman Mountain. This half-mile (805-meter) trail is great for hikers looking to escape the city.
  • Terry Trail: a 1-mile (1.6 km) loop that goes to the northern end of the park and back to the starting point. You will find an old roadway, mossy rocks, and large hardwoods.
  • Whole Planet Trail: This 0.2-mile (322-meter) trail is great for a quick hike up through challenging, rocky terrain and ending at the iconic “Sleeping Giant” rock formation.
  • Bulldog Trail: For a moderate hike, the Bulldog Trail takes you up towards the highest peak of Chapman Mountain, offering breathtaking views and a chance to explore unique rock formations and caves. It also connects with the Terry Trail.

Other Nearby Hiking Spots

In addition to the popular hiking spots mentioned above, there are many other hikes and trails near Huntsville, Alabama, that offer unique and breathtaking experiences. From hidden waterfalls to stunning views, these local trails have something for everyone.

Read on to discover some of the best hikes in the area that will take you through beautiful landscapes and immerse you in nature.

Harvest Square Nature Preserve

Alabama Hills

Located in the Harvest area, the Harvest Square Nature Preserve is a hidden gem for hikers. This 77-acre preserve offers some of the best hikes in the area, with lovely, short, accessible nature trails that are perfect for all ages and levels of experience. The preserve also features wetland areas with boardwalks, providing a unique hiking experience through diverse ecosystems.

The main entrance to the preserve is off Highway 53, and hikers can park at the Publix parking lot nearby. From there, a short walk will take you to the trailhead, where you can choose from three different loops: the Bluebird Loop (0.2 miles or 320 meters), the Robin Loop (0.3 miles or 480 meters), and the Cardinal Loop (0.4 miles or 644 meters). Each loop offers a different experience, with highlights such as the dry creek, pond, and beautiful woods.

Keel Mountain Preserve

Just 15 miles (24 km) south of Huntsville lies the beautiful Keel Mountain Preserve in Gurley, AL. This hidden gem offers an unforgettable hiking experience with its scenic views and refreshing waterfalls. The star attraction of this preserve is the Lost Sink Falls Trail, a moderately challenging out and back hike that takes you to a stunning waterfall surrounded by lush forests.

Lost Sink Falls Trail

  • Location: Keel Mountain Preserve, Gurley, AL
  • Distance: 2.7 miles (4.3 km) round trip
  • Duration: Approximately 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail type: Out and back

Hikers can start their journey at the free parking lot and head towards the well-marked trailhead. The Lost Sink Falls Trail is the only hiking trail in this preserve, making it easy to navigate for all levels of hikers. The 1.2-mile (2 km) hike takes you through peaceful woods, with occasional streams and small waterfalls along the way.

As you approach Lost Sink Falls, the trail becomes more challenging with some steep inclines and rocky terrain. But the breathtaking views of the waterfall at the end make it all worth it.

Sipsey Wilderness

The Sipsey Wilderness lies within Bankhead National Forest around the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River in northwestern Alabama, United States. Sipsey is the largest and most frequently visited wilderness area in Alabama and contains dozens of waterfalls.

Conclusion

In Huntsville, hiking is not just a workout; it’s an experience. With various preserved natural spots, the city gives hikers, trail runners, thru-hikers, and backpackers a chance to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.

As you plan your next hiking adventure, make sure to check out the five hiking spots mentioned above and have an unforgettable experience. Remember to carry essentials like adequate water, sun protection, and bug spray to make your hike more enjoyable.

Check out our Hikes & Trails Page to find other exciting destinations like this one.


RALPH S.

Ralph S. is the founder of Silverlight, an avid hiker and trail runner he enjoys spending time outdoors, riding his motorcycle and swimming at the beach when he's not busy replying to customers or developing new Silverlight gear.

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