Step Outside - Alabama WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 http://stepoutside.org/ Step Outside - Alabama 144 144 http://stepoutside.org/ https://cdnstep-americantownscom.netdna-ssl.com/img/stepoutside_logo.gif Tue, 26 Mar 2019 15:38:18 -0500 6 Best Winter Cabin Camping Spots in Alabama Just because there’s a nip in the air doesn’t mean you have to forgo your camping cravings until spring. Winter weather means cabin camping, and Alabama has plenty of enchanting, rustic options to choose from. Sometimes, escaping into the woods is just what you need. Here are the best cabin camping spots in Alabama. 

It doesn’t get much cozier than a tiny cabin in the beautiful, private Horse Pens. A secluded hideout perfect for newlyweds or a few friends, this beautiful park is one of Alabama’s best kept secrets. Venture away from your warm cabin to discover natural rock formations that beg to be climbed, along with hiking trails, mountain views, and plenty of solitude.

Open all year, the Gulf Shores/Pensacola West KOA in Lillian, Alabama, is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. There are several comfortable cabin options available here, including a premium deluxe cabin that sleeps six people. This cabin features a queen-sized bed, futon, and twin bunks in case you’re traveling with little ones! There’s also a flat screen TV, charcoal grill, deck, mini fridge, and microwave. Guests will be afforded modern conveniences and a chance to escape into the wilderness. It’s perfect. 

If you love the idea of camping but don’t quite want to give up electricity, rent a cabin at the Elliott Branch of Bear Creek Lakes. Each beautiful cabin offers large living areas, a full kitchen, private bedrooms, and bathrooms to make your stay the next best thing to being home—without the maintenance, of course. The cabins are within eyesight of the lake, along with a place on the pier for you to dock your boat during your stay.

Grab yours while you can—this beautiful waterside state park in Spanish Fort only has two rental cabins on site. Perfect for singles or couples, these homey cabins feature all the basics you need for a camping trip, including a bed, bathroom, and small kitchen. They’re snug, but you likely won’t be spending much time inside since there’s plenty to see and do within the park. Take a walk along the fishing pier or beach area or visit the 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center. 

If you’re truly looking to get away from it all, head to Rogersville’s Joe Wheeler State Park. Their brick and wood cabins overlook gorgeous Wheeler Lake. When you venture from the comfort of your cabin, you’ll find a lodge and other amenities on site that campers can take advantage of. Cabins range in sizes that can accommodate up to 15 people, making this an ideal spot for large groups and intimate parties alike. 

These beautifully-designed cabins create a whimsical atmosphere that every member of your family will love. Choose from a selection of seven incredible cabins, each ranging in size and amenities. On the smaller side, you’ll find Cabin I, which sleeps five people comfortably and even has a hot tub! Spend the evening outdoors around the campfire pit and enjoy the tranquility that surrounds you.  

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http://stepoutside.org/article/6-best-winter-cabin-camping-spots-in-alabama http://stepoutside.org/article/6-best-winter-cabin-camping-spots-in-alabama Fri, 04 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0600
10 Best Winter Hikes in Alabama 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.

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.

"...lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Psalms 61:2 ⛰

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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.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-winter-hikes-in-alabama http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-winter-hikes-in-alabama Fri, 04 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0600
Best Winter Weekend Getaway in Little River Canyon National Preserve Alabama’s Little River Canyon is a dream destination during the winter. Open year-round for day use, this beautiful national park in Cedar Bluff is home to wildlife and gorgeous views of the Appalachian Mountains. Rivers, waterfalls, canyon rims, a scenic drive, and beautiful sandstone cliffs make for the perfect backdrop to every winter weekend getaway. Here’s how you can plan your visit. 

The preserve doesn’t offer lodging of any sort, but you can camp at nearby Desoto State Park that’s within the preserve’s boundaries. Here you can take advantage of a motel, chalets, cabins, and a campground, along with other amenities within the park.

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This .75-mile trek takes you to the bottom of the canyon. If you’re traveling on the scenic drive, you’ll find the trailhead at the last improved overlook. Pieces of history line the area, including remnants of an old chairlift that once carried people across the canyon. It’s a short hike, but don’t underestimate its ruggedness—and remember you’ll have to hike back up the canyon, too!

There are several pre-made rock climbing routes within the park. You’ve got to bring your own equipment and transportation to get there and climb any of the cliffs within the park. Climbing is at your own risk, so be prepared.

As long as you have a valid fishing license, you can take advantage of the numerous fishing spots within the preserve. For fly fishing, head to Canyon Mouth Park and grab some redeye bass. You can also fish anywhere along Little River within the preserve. Popular catches are bluegill, catfish, crappie, and bass.

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The park’s scenic drive is one of the area’s most notable features. This 11-mile tour travels along Highway 176 with plenty of pull-offs and overlooks to soak in the scenery. The road is a popular destination for bicyclers, too.

Not far from Little River Canyon lies Alabama’s premiere ski resort, perfect for a winter day trip or weekend getaway. Situated on top of Lookout Mountain, this resort features two lifts, multiple trails, and all the man-made snow you need for an epic day on the slopes. They offer all the equipment and gear you need, along with professional instruction to help you make the most of your day.

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Only time you can find me away from the beach 🗻

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Open only on the weekends during the winter, this nonprofit organization provides a home for over 160 exotic animals. You can explore their 140 acres of bears, tigers, lions, leopards, and other wildlife while supporting a good cause. 

This steakhouse is known for its grilling prowess, salad bar, and plenty of seafood options. Small and cozy from the outside in, this hometown family eatery will have you feeling right at home. The menu offers a lengthy list of options that are priced affordably and offer big portions, so bring your appetite. 

This outdoor lifestyle store has everything you need to complete your outdoor weekend getaway. Brands like Teva, Patagonia, and Timberland are mainstays here, so you can stock up on outdoor apparel, hiking boots, and other items you need for your trip. 

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Housed in a former historic theater of the same name, The Strand is serving up classic burgers and American fare along with a heaping helping of nostalgia. Consider it a restaurant, local history museum, and antique store all rolled into one. It’s certainly the most unique place to eat in town, and you won’t want to pass up the opportunity. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/best-winter-weekend-getaway-in-little-river-canyon-national-preserve http://stepoutside.org/article/best-winter-weekend-getaway-in-little-river-canyon-national-preserve Mon, 26 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0600
SPOTLIGHT: Things to Do in and Around Cheaha State Park The best things in life don’t have to cost a fortune, and Alabama’s selection of state parks prove it. A visit to a state park is more than something to do. Depending on where you go, you may be in for the adventure of your life while you make memories and enjoy a day in Mother Nature. Check out the best things to enjoy in and around Cheaha State Park. 

As the highest point in Alabama, Cheaha State Park is undoubtedly one of the best natural wonders of the state. This mountaintop escape offers no shortage of things to do, including hiking, a swimming pool, lodging, wildlife, waterfalls, rock climbing, mountain biking, a gem mine, and a shared passion for all things outdoors. Just $5 grants you all-day access to all the park has to offer, making this state park one of the most budget-friendly adventures you’ll ever experience.

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Start your day off right with a breakfast stop at CJ’s Family Restaurant. Located just minutes from the park, you can fill up on your favorite early morning staples to keep you focused on the day ahead. Their delicious flavors and family-friendly service has made CJ’s a favorite among locals and travelers alike. 

History buffs won’t mind driving nearly an hour to Kymulga Grist Mill, one of the most visited historic sites in the area. This grist mill is steeped in Alabama history and features a park and covered bridge on-site waiting for you to come explore. It’s a photogenic site worthy of a postcard, so make sure you bring your camera. 

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While you’re visiting Childersburg, keep the momentum going and visit the DeSoto Caverns. The town’s rich history continues underground in these iconic caves. DeSoto Caverns is a must see attraction “run by a family for families.” Aside from the jaw dropping onyx-marble stalagmites, there are also over 20 outdoor attractions at this park, such as archery, and rock climbing wall, and more. With something for everyone in your family, you won’t want to miss a beat here!

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Weather permitting, you can go tubing down the Choccolocco Creek in a comfy inflatable tube. Surrounded by nature, you’ll experience some of the best sights and sounds of the area with the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere. Sure, you can find tubing spots at Cheaha State Park’s lake, but they won’t quite match up to what you’ll discover at Floating Fun.

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After a day of playing outdoors, refuel at the Mounta Cheaha Restaurant located inside the park. This country-style eatery offers panoramic views of the park along with delicious fare you wouldn’t expect from a state park restaurant. The themed decor adds to the experience to make your meal as fun as it is tasty.

To finish off an exciting trip, head to Talladega Superspeedway to take in a NASCAR race. This site is one of the most popular for professional racing, attracting thousands of visitors to its stands each year. If you plan your visit just right, you’ll be able to see some of the greatest racers in modern history in this small Alabama town.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/spotlight-things-to-do-in-and-around-cheaha-state-park http://stepoutside.org/article/spotlight-things-to-do-in-and-around-cheaha-state-park Fri, 02 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Cool Spots for ATV Off-Roading in Alabama It should come as no surprise that the Heart of Dixie knows a thing or two about off-roading. The South loves to get a little muddy on the back of an ATV. Across Alabama, you’ll find a variety of off-road parks and trails designed specifically for those adrenaline junkies. Check out these five cool spots for ATV off-roading in the state. 

Offering 16 miles of trails, Flint Creek is a popular spot for off-road motorcycles, ATVs, horseback and bike riders, as well as hikers. This area isn’t heavily used, either, so you’ll have plenty of space to traverse. The trail is considered easy and suitable for all levels of skill. With its smooth, sandy surface, you’ll find yourself easily ripping through the trails at a high speed. But remember to always ride responsibly! 

This ATV park is accessible to four-wheelers, dirt bikes, and side-by-sides. Beason’s offers a variety of surfaces, some smoother areas for novice riders and some more heavily-wooded spaces for the experts. The coolest part about this park? While there are designated trails, riders are invited to create their own. As long as you stay within the property, you can explore as you please. Admission is $10. 

This OHV park boasts “Miles of freedom, minutes away,” according to its website. This park is situated in the geographical center of Alabama. Not only is it a top-notch ATV and off-motorcycle park with many miles of trails, but it also features a wonderful RV campground if you want to stay the night. The scenery is stunning, too. You won’t want to miss out on this. 

This adventure park is home to a variety of outdoor activities. The trails are accessible to ATVs, side-by-sides, and dirt bikes. Here, you can expect to find single tracks, mud bogs, and motocross tracks. The opportunities for ATVs are among the best in the state at this private park. The park, which started in 2003, has over 35 miles of OHV trails. This is a thrill-seeker’s paradise. 

This privately-owned site boasts more than 1,000 acres of space and 160 miles of trails. Yes, you read that right—160 miles of off-roading fun. Branching off of the main trail, you’ll find a variety of terrain, from muddy areas to rocky hills to climb. If your stomach is rumbling after your ride, check out the Mud Pie Café for a bite!

*Note: Age restrictions, special licenses, and other requirements for off highway vehicles vary from state to state. Before heading out on your OHV, please consult your local regulations.

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5 Stunning Foliage Hikes in Alabama Alabama sees its share of sweltering hot summer temperatures, so when fall rolls around the locals are ready to greet it with open arms. But cooler days aren’t the only delights to look forward to. It’s also the best time of year to take a walk through the woods and bask in the warm reds, yellows, and oranges of autumn. Here’s where you can find the five most stunning fall foliage hikes in Alabama. 

At Oak Mountain State Park, you’ll have 25 miles of beautiful fall foliage to keep you company on your travels. Head to the North trailhead, where you can embark on White, Blue, or Yellow trails. The White Trail will take you to the park’s highest elevation point, where you can get a glimpse of the gorgeous fall colors from above. Or, head to the Green Trail that begins near the park office on Terrace Drive, and make your way to Peavine Falls to get a photo-worthy look at the waterfalls framed by the changing leaves.

This charming covered bridge has been the central focus of the park built around it since 1904. The original bridge was destroyed by a storm in 1975, but restoration efforts including salvaging material of the bridge for reconstruction, hiking trails, picnic space, cabins, and other structures has since strengthened the site. It’s now considered one of the best spots in the state to soak in the rich fall foliage.

This popular place for fall hiking has its own designated spot on the state’s “fall color trail” guide. Guests here can make their way along the Warpath Ridge Trailway that overlooks the Tennessee Valley for the best fall foliage views. However, these views come at a steep price, and should only be attempted by experienced or physically fit hikers. If you’d rather stick to a simpler hike, the park offers 22 miles of hiking and biking trails, including the easy 2.9-mile Bucca Family Trail.

Another designated area on Alabama’s “fall color trail” guide, Lake Guntersville State Park features over 36 miles of moderate-to-difficult trails that hikers, bikers, and horseback riders will love. King’s Chapel, Butler’s Pass, Lickskillet, and Cascade Trails offer plenty of surprises, such as graveyards, overlooks, waterfalls or wildflowers, but each one will let you enjoy Mother Nature’s beautiful fall color scheme.

There’s plenty of river, waterfalls, and ridges to explore as you enjoy the fall foliage at Desoto State Park. Make it a day trip or stay the whole weekend in one of their cabins. People of all ages and skill levels can take a stroll along the Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail that leads 360 yards into the forest and ends at an observation deck overlooking the Azalea Cascade pool. For the most colorful fall views, head to Little River Canyon, just 10 miles south of the state park, where you can traverse the 100-foot boardwalk that leads to the perfect viewing spot for the foliage. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-stunning-foliage-hikes-in-alabama http://stepoutside.org/article/5-stunning-foliage-hikes-in-alabama Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
ATV Off-Roading Adventure at Top Trails There are some things in Alabama you just can’t enjoy from the highway. Maybe that’s why off-roading has become so popular here. Throughout the state, you’ll find plenty of excuses to stray from the pavement and enjoy a little adventure in the middle of nowhere. Of course, no off-roading experience in Alabama is complete without making a full day of exploring the local area. This mini travel guide will ensure you have an unforgettable off-roading adventure in Alabama. 

Get your motor running with breakfast at the Daily Grind, Talladega’s favorite coffee shop and breakfast spot. Grab your favorite caffeinated beverage and a bagel or breakfast croissant—you’re going to need plenty of energy for a day of off-roading.

There’s nothing better to fuel your need for speed than a quick visit to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Here you can tour three exhibit halls chock full of motorsports information and memorabilia, as well as the potential to tour the Talladega Superspeedway. The main tour usually takes just an hour to complete, giving you plenty of time to hit the trails afterward.

Your off-roading journey continues with a trip to Top Trails, one of the largest and highly acclaimed ATV parks in the state. With over 2,800 acres of trails and terrain, this place is called Top Trails for a reason. You can book a campsite here for a whole weekend of off-roading, or simply join the fun for a day adventure. This park has plenty for riders of all ages, including 100 miles of varying terrain, rock crawls, hill climbs, and a kiddie track to help young riders hone their driving skills.

After an afternoon of off-roading, grab a quick bite to eat at Fincher’s Real Delite. This local hot spot is serving up tasty eats like barbecue, catfish, and chicken fingers. It’s the perfect spot to unwind after riding the trails, and will keep you filled as you continue your day’s quest.

For reliable hospitality in a comfortable environment after a long day of riding, you can’t go wrong with the Holliday Inn in Talladega. Enjoy their King Bed Guest Room with black-out shades for sleeping late into the morning, free Wi-Fi, TV, coffee pot, and more. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/atv-offroading-adventure-at-top-trails http://stepoutside.org/article/atv-offroading-adventure-at-top-trails Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Awesome RV Campsites in Alabama Enjoy Alabama’s myriad natural wonders from the comfort of your very own RV. Take a dip on the beaches of the Gulf Shore, go for a waterfall hunt through the national parks, or get up close and personal with Yogi Bear at the following five awesome RV campsites. 

Hidden Cove RV Resort is part of the greater Thousand Trails franchise, the largest provider of RV resorts and campgrounds in the country. Hidden Cove is right on the scenic Lewis Smith Lake, giving you water-side access in addition to the many amenities. Amenities include a clubhouse, Wi-Fi, restroom, swimming pool, fishing, boat dock, mini golf, and more. Go for a waterfall hike or an afternoon picnic. Hidden Cove is a hidden gem.

Five miles outside of Gulf Shores, Alabama, you’ll find RV heaven at the Island Retreat RV Park. The park offers solitude from the hustle and bustle of daily life without leaving town too far behind. Amenities include a pool, playground, clubhouse, storage, private showers, laundry, bike paths, and more. Each RV site has full hook-ups, and back-in spots start at $35 a night, with weekly and monthly rates available for longer stays. 

Auburn RV Park at Leisure Time Campground is part of Auburn University. All of their sites include full hook-ups with water, sewer, cable, telephone Wi-Fi, 50-amp, 30-amp, and 20-amp services. Visitors enjoy the adjacent softball complex, 18-hole golf course, and Charlotte and Curtis Ward bike trails. Whether you’re tailgating, visiting one of Auburn’s natural parks, or just want a weekend away, Auburn RV Park is not to be overlooked.

Mountain lakes RV Resort is located near the 68,000-acre Guntersville Lake, offering a fantastic view of the water from nearly any site. All sites are pull-through. Amenities include fishing, indoor and outdoor pool access, clubhouse, kid’s recreation room, horseshoes, volleyball, and more. Their event calendar is chock-full of fun activities, including car game night, line dancing lessons, family bingo and snack bar, and many more. Check their website for rates and the full event listing. 

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park is, you guessed it, Yogi Bear themed. Have a Yogi Bear fanatic in the family? Looking for a perfect place to bring your small children on a camping adventure? Yogi Bear’s Jellystone is the answer. Many of the on-site activities are Yogi Bear themed, including flag raising with Yogi, cartoons in the clubhouse, Pictures with Yogi Bear, and more. Other activities include s’more roasting, water wars, and parties at the ranger station. The cost is comparable to other RV parks ranging from $34-42 a night, with the bonus of tailor-made events for children, and a central location for adults.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-rv-campsites-in-alabama http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-rv-campsites-in-alabama Tue, 30 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Perfect Fall Camping Spots in Alabama Fall is just around the corner, and there’s no better place for a camping trip than Alabama. Aside from enjoying cooler weather, you’ll be surrounded by all the beautiful fall colors that make for the perfect backdrop to your campsite. It doesn’t get any better than camping during the fall at one of these five amazing camping spots in Alabama. 

The paramount feature here is the 90-foot cascade known as Noccalula Falls that empties into the Black Creek ravine. This beautiful vista alone makes it an ideal spot for a fall camping trip. In addition, the park features a paved trail system to enjoy fall foliage walks, along with a petting zoo, playground, children’s train, miniature golf, and natural rock formations. The campground caters to campers of all preferences, whether you want to bring your RV or opt for a primitive campsite. You’ll want to bring your mountain bike to enjoy the over five miles of trails, or set out on foot to enjoy Mother Nature at a slower pace.

Part of the Bankhead National Forest, fall foliage abounds in this beautiful scenic campground. Also known as the “Land of a Thousand Waterfalls,” campers love the multitude of waterfall vistas that make for the perfect photo op. The limestone bluffs and naturally sculpted canyons add to the area’s beauty and will keep you enthralled for hours as you wander your way through the trails. The fish here still bite in the cooler weather, which makes this campground a prime spot for campers. 

Situated on top of gorgeous Lookout Mountain, this state park is brimming with natural wonders that are only enhanced by the rich colors of fall. Rent a cabin or book a spot in the campground, or for the daring, you can secure a primitive backcountry campsite that’s well out of reach of civilization. The park features over 25 miles of trails that are primed for hiking and biking, which gives you ample time to walk through the woods and enjoy the visibly changing seasons. And no visit here is complete without a stop to marvel the 104-foot Desoto Falls—it’s absolutely breathtaking!

This popular summer vacation destination is equally impressive in the fall. The campground offers both short and long-term campsites that are perfect for RV’ers looking to settle down for a while. Situated on a peaceful lake, campers love the scenery here, especially as the fall color palette comes alive.

Open until Nov. 30, this Hillsboro KOA is among the very best. And it doesn’t need to be summer to enjoy the magnificent beauty that Wheeler Lake offers. Activities at the campsite include swimming (though it may get chilly for that!), canoeing and kayaking, fishing, picnicking, and a playground for the little ones. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-perfect-fall-camping-spots-in-alabama http://stepoutside.org/article/5-perfect-fall-camping-spots-in-alabama Tue, 30 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Start Your Trek: 7 Unbeatable Hiking Retailers in Alabama There’s no better way to explore nature than on foot, and Alabama has some of prettiest sights you’ll ever see by trail. There’s a thriving hiking community in this state, which is why you’ll find plenty of retailers dedicated to helping hikers continue their passion for exploring. Before you hit your next trail, visit one of these seven top-notch hiking stores in Alabama to stock up on what you need. 

Your adventure begins at Gadsden Outfitters, where you’ll discover some of the best names in hiking. From boots to backpacks, you can completely outfit your next hiking journey in a single stop. Choose from top brands like the North Face, Patagonia, and Osprey that will motivate you to never stop exploring.

This regional chain is dedicated to helping hikers get the right apparel and gear that will truly make a difference in their experience. They’ve been serving area hikers for the past 40 years, and have made outfitting your trip even easier with their ecommerce store. You’ll find all your favorite brands like Teva, Yeti, and Black Diamond, so stock up before you hit the trails.

This family-owned second generation business has all the goods for a great hiking trip. Being heavily involved in their community, the owners and team members know the area well. They can help you get the most from your purchases with first-hand knowledge of their stuff works. Popular sellers include Chaco, KAVU, and Columbia.

A little of this and a little of that are what make UG White Mercantile so special—you never know what you’ll find. This old-fashioned general store has many of the basics hikers need to enjoy a day of sightseeing on the trails, such as water bottles, knives, apparel, hats, bags, and bulk candy for a little trailside treat. Case knives is one of their most beloved brands—stock up for your next adventure.

When it comes to the great outdoors, no one knows the call of the wild better than the North Face. They make some of the most durable backpacks, apparel, and hiking boots you can get without sacrificing style. Their stores are dedicated exclusively to the North Face-branded products, so you can rest assured every purchase is the high quality you expect. 

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This sports and outdoors chain features several locations throughout Alabama, making it easy for residents all over to get what they need for a day on the trails. They feature a large selection of drinkware, backpacks, and sunglasses, along with outdoor clothing perfect for any type of weather. Check them out online or visit one of their stores to find brands like Magellan Outdoors and Columbia.  

Bass Pro Shops’ massive square footage allows it to stock a serious inventory of hiking gear and supplies. If you’re embarking on an equestrian hike, you can find saddle bags and other gear for your horse companions here. Essentials like first aid kits, backpacks, and hydration solutions can be found amongst its aisles, as well as commonly overlooked items like ChapStick, sunscreen, and bug repellent. Some of their best brands include Camelbak and Adventure Medical.

The Birth Place of @bassproshops #springfield #springfieldmo #basspro #midwest

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http://stepoutside.org/article/start-your-trek-7-unbeatable-hiking-retailers-in-alabama http://stepoutside.org/article/start-your-trek-7-unbeatable-hiking-retailers-in-alabama Mon, 29 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in Alabama Alabama offers some of the best fishing opportunities around, and you’ll find plenty of bait and tackle shops that are truly dedicated to the cause. Known for its bass fishing, trout fishing, and much more, locals and visitors flock to the waters of Alabama for an opportunity to snag that big catch. Outfit yourself with all of the proper equipment at the 10 best bait and tackle shops in the state. 

Aside from its catchy name, this outdoors shop knows what area fishermen need most and deliver every time. Fans love that they can shop their entire catalog online or in-store, which includes thousands of high-quality, well-priced supplies at unbeatable prices. Even if you don’t live near Mobile, you’ll want to make this place your first stop for every fishing trip.

If you’re fishing in Gulf Shores, you simply can’t settle for a mediocre bait and tackle shop, so head to Hooked Up. From live, dead, and frozen bait to poles, reels, lures, and other accessories, they’ve got the full gamut for fishing in Gulf Shores. Best of all, they’re up and running before the sun so you can get a head start on your fishing. 

Northern Alabama fishermen know there’s no better place to get high-quality bait than at Scottsboro. Clean and organized, you’ll be able to find the bait or supplies you’re looking for in no time so you can get out and get on with your adventure. It’s a must-visit if you’re fishing on Lake Guntersville.

You know a bait and tackle shop is the real deal when even the local fishing guides recommend it. J&M Tackle knows how to help you choose the right stuff to get the best fishing experience in Orange Beach. They carry some of the best brand in the industry, like Shimano, Yeti coolers, and Biscayne, to name a few.

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It’s everything a small-town bait shop should be—fully stocked, welcoming, and brimming with first-hand expertise. The team members are fellow fishermen who can help you get the most from your purchases, plus they can answer your questions about fishing in the area. You won’t find a bigger helping of down-home service.

This full-service tackle shop gives you less reason to go anywhere else. You can pick up a fishing license, live bait, tackle, and poles, or have your reel professionally serviced. They’re a family-owned business, and when you shop with them they treat you like a part of it.

What customers love most about this place is that they can take care of feeding the fish and themselves all in a single stop. This gas station/grocery store offers the best bait for fishing on Lake Guntersville, along with tackle and other supplies to complete your fishing trip. Their on-site deli and grocery give you a chance to grab your food before you stake out your spot on the lake to keep you from ending your trip too early.

Nowhere else in Alabama can you get the best bait and tackle and a delicious breakfast biscuit all under one roof. Sam’s knows local fishermen’s needs unlike any other, catering to all skill levels and ages. Customers love it because there’s always something new and interesting to discover in store. 

If you’re looking for a bait shack, plain and simple, you’ll find everything you expect at Shirley’s. With one of the biggest varieties of bait around, you’ll find the perfect type of bait for what you’re fishing for, along with everything else you need before you head to the water. No frills, no gimmicks, no games, just pure customer service and satisfaction.

Professional and recreational fishermen alike know they can count on Southern Bama Bait and Tackle to stock what they need for a successful day of fishing. While you there, you can also pick up a fishing license to keep you legal.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-bait-and-tackle-shops-in-alabama http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-bait-and-tackle-shops-in-alabama Mon, 29 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Archery Outfitters in Alabama Whether it’s for bow hunting or practicing your shot at a range, Alabama understands the importance of a bow and arrow. Find all of the latest in bow technology and a collection of high-quality accessories at the 10 best archery outfitters in the state. 

Whether you’re new to the sport or you’ve been practicing for years, you’ll appreciate the personalized expertise you’ll get when you visit Archery Connection. They’re fellow archers, which means they know the sport inside and out and can help you make the most of your purchases, give you tips on form, and do everything in their power to help you become a better archer.

Though it looks small and humble on the outside, you’ll be blown away by the selection inside. The professionalism at Nichols is unmatched. The pros here know archery, and they put their knowledge to work for you in helping you choose the right gear. Their loyal fans love coming here because of the friendly experience they can expect every time.

Whatever your archery needs, Archery Unlimited is your one-stop shop. They offer everything from new and used bow sales to tuning and setup to an indoor practice range to help you improve your skills. They also take care to ensure you get the right gear for your experience level and goals—no trial and error necessary!

Deer hunting isn’t just a sport in Alabama—it’s a way of life. Full Draw Archery knows this better than anyone, which is why they’re fully dedicated to the cause with a full suite of archery products geared for deer hunters. Not only will you find high-quality archery supplies in store, but also complementing outdoor hunting gear to give you a one-stop shop before your next big hunting adventure.

With a full product line available in store and online, Pat’s Archery & Outdoors has all the bows, crossbows, and accessories you need to improve your archery skills. If you can’t make it into the store, they also have all their gear available online.

Offering only the best gear and supplies in hunting and fishing, it’s no wonder Quints has gained a reputation of being one of the top archery gear providers in the state. Aside from high-quality equipment, they also offer bow setup and other related services to get you field-ready faster.

If brand matters to you, you’ll want to make a shopping trip at Big Daddy Outdoors a priority. They carry all the best names in archery, from Mathews Monster Chill R to Parker compound bows, to name a slight few. Because they offer a diverse assortment of brands and products, you have the best chance of scoring a high-quality bow and accessories in your price range.

This full-service shop has everything you need for a top-notch archery experience. Their fans admire them for their personal knowledge of the sport, which they willingly share with customers to help them get more from their efforts.

From bows to accessories to clothing and more, chances are you won’t need to make a second trip anywhere else. Wiregrass Outdoors is known for its high-quality selection, giving you the best chance for an excellent experience out in the field.

While not dedicated exclusively to archers’ needs, the folks here sure know their stuff when it comes to all things outdoors. They carry all the gear you need, from bows and arrows to targets and maintenance supplies. For the best in all things outdoor sports, there’s no better place to go.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-archery-outfitters-in-alabama http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-archery-outfitters-in-alabama Mon, 29 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Best Places to Fish in the South This Fall Redfish are starting to move inshore and set up at the mouths of bays, inlets and deltas as their annual spawning run commences. The bottom line for fishermen is outstanding fishing from late September through November in the northern Gulf.

Likewise, bass fishing is starting to pick up again as the weather begins to cool. Huge schools of threadfin shad are starting to filter away from open-water ledges into bays and tributaries where feeding conditions and water temperatures are more optimum.

Bass follow the food, first setting up on ledges at the mouths of inlets and creeks to waylay shad, then migrating back toward shallower water to keep up with their quarry.

Fall Script for Southern Bass

Bass rule in Dixie and cooler weather brings out an army of anglers who go after them. Whether largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass, they’re available in most waters and sometimes all three varieties are present in a fishery, ready to aggravate or gratify those who seek them.

Hot Spots To Fish: When it comes to the South’s best lakes for fall fishing, the big TVA impoundments fit the bill. Because this is bass tournament country, dozens of YouTube videos and Facebook sites of pro anglers offer useful advice on where and how to catch autumn largemouths. Likewise, guide services are plentiful; just Google “fishing guides” for the lake you’re visiting or type in the town nearest the lake you wish to fish on the interactive map on this page.

Tackle You’ll Need: A 7-foot medium/heavy rod such as the St. Croix Premier Cranking, a baitcasting reel like the Abu Garcia Revo Winch and 10- to 14-pound-test monofilament makes a good combination to fish downsized lures.

Quick tip: This is strictly a match-the-hatch deal. Use lures that are about the same size as wandering shad. If young-of-the-year threadfins are on the bass menu, try small swim baits fished on drop-shot rigs.

 

Best Lures/Baits: Shad-colored, shallow- and medium-diving square-billed or coffin-billed crankbaits are autumn standouts. Popular lures include the Strike King 6XD, Bandit 100 or 200, Duo Realis M65, Livetarget Magnum Shad BaitBall Squarebill, Megabass S-Crank, Lucky Craft Squarebill 2.5, Storm Arashi and Rapala Shad Rap.

Fish them around shoreline cover and on the flats between creek drop-offs and the bank. Other fallback baits include spinnerbaits like the Booyah Super Shad, Stanley Vibrashaft and Nichols Pulsator. Good buzzbait options can be found from Lunker Lure, Damiki, Santone and Dirty Jigs.

Rendezvous With Redfish

Along the northern Gulf Coast from Carrabelle, FL, to Grand Isle, LA, the redfish season begins in late September and continues in stages through December. Some anglers fish in the surf with cut bait, while others station themselves on area piers or in boats on relatively shallow flats near channel cuts.

Hot Spots To Fish: For boating anglers, a couple of spots stick out. Pensacola Bay Pass is a must-fish for boaters. Anchor up on the broad flat between old Fort Pickens and the channel, set out lines as the tide changes to incoming, and hang on. Need more help? Redfish University Pensacola Fishing Charters (850-748-4368, redfishuniversity.com) specializes in the big drum.

At Grand Isle, LA, book a trip with Gotta Go Fishing Charters (225-921-3642, gottagofishingcharters.com). The marshes and inshore waters around Venice, LA, are primo redfish haunts as well. Captain Mike Frenette (504-782-0924, laredfish.com or (mike@venicefishing.net) is a top guide here.

Photograph Courtesy of Strike King Lure Company 
Louisiana’s coastal waters are ground zero for the hottest autumn redfish action along the northern Gulf Coast. A variety of natural baits and artificials get the job done.

Tackle You’ll Need: “Rat” reds of 3 pounds and up, or real bruisers weighing in excess of 20 pounds require a range of tackle options. Bass fishing tackle – whether spinning or baitcasting – is perfect for handling smaller fish and for casting jigs or swimbaits that weigh less than an ounce. A Shimano Stradic spinning reel and 7-foot medium-action Shimano Compre rod with 14-pound-test monofilament.

For bigger fish, consider a Penn Battle II BTLII5000 with 20-pound-test monofilament or 40-pound-test braid, and a 30-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. A 7-foot medium-heavy spinning rod (such as the Penn Battalion BATIN1220S70) should handle any bait rigs or lures and wear down a bull redfish in short order.

Quick Tip: Incoming tides in late evening or at night are primo times for reds as the fish free-spawn then in the mouths of coastal bays and estuaries. If you can’t fish any other time, make sure you fish the incoming tides.

 

Best Lures/Baits: Redfish aren’t particular about their dietary requirements and will eat anything from blue crabs to halved mullet. Swimming spoons such as the Johnson Sprite (johnsonfishing.com), swimbaits and jigs or even topwater poppers, such as the Heddon Saltwater Spook, will elicit strikes.

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Photograph Courtesy of Strike King Lure Company Photo By Garrick Dixon Shallow- to medium-running crankbaits probably account for more bass than any other lure in the fall when the fish are on the prowl for shad in feeder creeks and coves. http://stepoutside.org/article/best-places-to-fish-in-the-south-this-fall http://stepoutside.org/article/best-places-to-fish-in-the-south-this-fall Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in Alabama Is there anything better than fall in Alabama? Most folks would agree it’s the best time of the year. Alabama heat slowly fades to cool, which means it’s time to get outside and enjoy the weather before winter storms in. Alabama’s outdoor scene leaves you wanting for nothing, given the varied terrain and abundance of things to do, and you’ll want to mark these 10 best fall outdoor activities on your calendar.

Breathtaking views like these are best experienced without the blazing sun heating up the rocks. This rock climbing locale also offers hiking trails and camping so you can make a full weekend out of your adventure. Suitable for all skill levels, you’ll want to make this your go-to spot for all things outdoors.

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For those who like to stop and enjoy the scenery, Yellow Creek Falls is a must-visit. It’s a peaceful place with a majestic waterfall, a place to bring your boat, and amazing fall foliage. This place is truly a hidden gem in Alabama’s outdoor scene and no trip to Yellow Creek is complete without stopping here. 

One of the best off-road parks in the state, Boggs & Boulders is the ride on the wild side you’ve been searching for. One thousand acres and 160 miles of trails await you, along with a fair share of mud holes, hills, and twists and turns to keep you guessing. They’re a fully loaded facility complete with camping and on-site dining. 

Fuel up before (or after) your visit to Boggs & Boulders with a trip to the Surly Mermaid Deli—an experience unlike any other. This mermaid-themed food palace is a treasure trove of delicious eats you won’t find in just any restaurant. The atmosphere is fun, whimsical, and a perfect start or finish to any outdoor adventure.

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Low prices and fall scenery are what makes camping here a real treat when the weather gets cooler. There’s plenty to do for everyone in the family within the park, including a small petting zoo and exotic animals, botanical gardens, a train, and of course Noccalula Falls. No matter what brings you outside, be it hiking, biking, trail running, or watching for wildlife, you’ll find it here. 

If you need to grab a fresh pair of hiking boots for your trip to Noccalula Falls Park, there’s no better place to go than the local Trading Post. This place has some of the best names in outdoor living, including Merrell, Keen, and Timberland. They’ve got footwear and outdoor apparel for the whole family here, so stock up before you go on your next camping or hiking adventure. 

There’s no shortage of outdoor recreation in Bankhead National Forest, and fall weather makes for an enjoyable visit. There are over 90 miles of trails for hikers to roam, as well as over 13 miles designated for horseback riders. Along the way you can soak in sights like waterfalls, gorges, wildflowers, and plenty of flora and fauna.

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Fall migration is a highly anticipated activity throughout Alabama each year, but Fort Morgan offers rare glimpses of birds you won’t see anywhere else in the state. Head here during late September or October to see hundreds of hawks moving over the fort. You can also check out Alabama’s Rare Bird Alert to stay up to date on birds in the area during this time.

Fall weather makes a great reason to break out the bike for a group ride, and this bicycle association hosts plenty of them. Their calendar stays full of exciting adventures for riders of all skill levels, including visits to Coldwater Mountain. There are different routes for some rides depending on your pace, so you can stay on course and enjoy the experience.

Trying to find activities for everyone in the family can be daunting, leave it to 4D Farm in Cullman County to give you non-stop fun and games! In autumn, 4D puts on the ultimate fall adventure with ziplines, farm animals, pig races, gemstone mining, a cow train, tetherball, and much more. Your little ones won’t be able to sit still! For the rest of the family there is a pumpkin patch and a huge corn maze to get lost in, keeping you entertained for hours!

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-outdoor-fall-activities-in-alabama http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-outdoor-fall-activities-in-alabama Tue, 09 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Camping Done Right: 6 Essential Outdoor Stores in Alabama Given Alabama’s awesome state parks, it’s no wonder camping is a favorite among residents and tourists alike. However, no camping trip is complete without first making a trip to the outdoor store. Alabama’s selection of outdoor stores have exactly what area campers need to face all kinds of weather and enjoy the great outdoors. Simply put, a good camping experience hinges on having all the right gear, and there’s no better place to get it than these seven essential outdoor stores in Alabama. 

Leaf in Creek is dedicated to all things outdoors, especially when it comes to campers’ needs. From tents and hammocks to backpacks and lanterns, you’ll be surprised at the innovations made in camping gear in the past several years. They carry all your favorite outdoor brands, like Kavu, Patagonia and Seal Line. Shop in store or have your online purchase waiting for you to pick it up in person. 

Coleman has long been the go-to brand for camping gear, and this store is chock full of quality Coleman products at factory outlet prices. They’ve got just about every type of tent and shelter imaginable, from easy pop-ups to tents that can house the whole family. You’ll also find all the typical camping goods, like food boxes, water jugs, and chairs, along with luxuries like kitchen gear and sports-branded gear. They’re also your headquarters for replacement parts for tents, pumps, lighting, and more.

Finally got me a #lantern. #coleman #duelfuel #camping #camp

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It’s clear that Mountain High Outfitters is dedicated to the outdoorsman’s success, especially when shopping in their camping section. They carry all the staples, from sleeping bags to food storage, along with fun goodies like tree tents to enhance your experience. It’s also your one-stop destination for popular brands like Yeti and Kavu. With nine locations to serve Alabama campers, you won’t have to go anywhere else.

I want to live in this. #cacoon #mountainhighoutfitters

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This regional camping store has all sorts of camping necessities, but they can also outfit you with all the bells and whistles to make every trip an adventurous one. ENO hammocks, Yeti mugs, and the North Face backpacks are just a few of the top brands you’ll discover. Their suite of food prep products is not to be missed!

There’s a reason why Cabela’s is one of the top names when it comes to camping: they have more to fuel campers’ needs than any other retailer. Not only will you find the best brands campsites have ever seen, you’ll also find the best gear like animal calls, fishing supplies, and archery equipment, to complement your time in the woods. Expect to find the likes of Marmot, Coleman, and the North Face throughout their camping section.

This nationally-recognized megastore is dedicated to delivering epic camping experiences. Standard sleeping gear is accompanied by fun gadgets like pie irons, popcorn poppers, and bug jackets. Aside from their namesake brand, you can find a variety of Yeti, Lodge, ENO, and Columbia products at good prices. One of the biggest benefits of shopping for all your gear here is that they also offer archery, gun, and tackle services, depending on what you plan on doing during your camping trip.

Camping and Hiking Preparation.....

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http://stepoutside.org/article/camping-done-right-6-essential-outdoor-stores-in-alabama http://stepoutside.org/article/camping-done-right-6-essential-outdoor-stores-in-alabama Wed, 15 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500