By Alli Hill
Hiking in Alabama during the colder months can be just as thrilling as it is during the summer, if you know where to go. Despite the cooler temperatures and lack of greenery, waterfalls and wildlife still abound in some of Alabama’s best hiking spots. Best of all, without all the flourishing trees to block your vision, you may discover interesting sites you’d never have seen otherwise. Take a walk at one of these 10 best winter hiking spots in Alabama.
This small but beautiful waterfall gets its name because it often disappears! The winter is one of the best times of year to catch a glimpse of this waterfall, which can be accessed via the Lost Falls Trail in Desoto State Park. The hike itself is about 1.8 miles starting at the country store, which is rated on the upper end of moderate. The trail connects with others so you can extend your hike as far as you wish.
Also called Little Rock City by the locals, Cherokee Rock Village is about as interesting as nature gets in Northern Alabama. The unique rocks offer rock climbing opportunities, as well as 14 miles of hiking trails. The entire area is known for its birdwatching spots, giving you plenty to do on your adventure.
View this post on Instagram
That’s the closest to the edge I was willing to get! (With my fear of heights) We hiked it up and climbed to the top of the mountain! 🏔 . Froze half to death with how windy it was, but it was so worth it for this view! 😻 . Alabama you are so beautiful! . Can’t wait to conquer a million more mountains with you @evankopczyk ♥️ . . . . #thankful #climbedtothetop #climbingmountains #conqueringfears #exploringnewthings #goingnewplaces #cherokeerockvillage #alabama #bamaviews #fallcolors🍁🍂 #conquergoals #setgoals #crushthem #setgoalsandcrushthem #couplegoals❤
Arguably some of the best scenery in the state, Buck’s Pocket State Park is a place you can enjoy year-round. It’s not as busy in the winter, which makes the cold months a better time to visit. The short-and-sweet Indian House Trail leads you to cool rock overhangs once used as housing by the Cherokee. You may even see a bald eagle or two during your visit.
Winter wildlife abounds at Lakepoint State Park. The park features four trails, each of which are about a mile long. It’s a quiet park, not too heavily trafficked, and gives you a great chance to glimpse deer, alligators, birds, and other animals.
Many of the hiking trails here follow the original routes of miners and furnace workers. Each trail bears historical significance, like the old Iron Haul Road that runs by the old slave cemetery. These are easy, short hikes that are perfect for the whole family, with the longest trail spanning around four miles. Plan to spend your day here, as there are plenty of fun activities waiting for you when you’re done with your hike.
For a “hike” of a different sort, head to Cathedral Caverns State Park. For a fee, you can dive deep underground on a guided 1.5-mile tour of the rich caverns. The caves stay a cool 60 degrees year-round, giving you a place to warm up while you explore. There are also other hiking trails at the park if you’d rather forgo the cavern experience.
Sister park to Tannehill Ironworks, this beautiful piece of Alabama history features some of the best birding trails in the state. Deer are also known to frequent the area, plus you’ll get to see historic buildings and structures along your journey. It’s gorgeous year-round, but going in the winter means you won’t have to battle as many crowds to get the most from your visit.
For moderate to difficult hikes, Lake Guntersville State Park is up to the challenge. The park offers several miles of trails to explore, some of which have scenic overlooks and lake and golf course views. This state park has one of the largest concentration of bald eagles around, and the winter is the best time to see them. They also host Eagle Awareness Weekends that give you a closer look at these amazing birds.
If you’re looking for an energizing winter workout, hit the White Trail at Oak Mountain State Park. This 6.4-mile one-way trail takes you to Shackleford Point, the highest place in the park at 1,260 feet in elevation. You’ll get a good view and good exercise in one trip.
It will take you awhile to get there, but you won’t want to miss the chance to hike Stone’s Cut Trail. This scenic trail features caves and cool rock formations, and can be accessed from the Sinks Trail. The Stone’s Cut Trail is just over a mile long, but the views alone may have you walking it more than once.