Step Outside - Alabama WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - Alabama 144 144 Sun, 15 Jul 2018 15:54:50 -0500 5 Awesome Trail Running Spots in Alabama If you think your running workouts in Alabama are limited to roads and pavement, you owe it to yourself to experience the joys of trail running. Given the unpredictable terrain, you might not beat your best time, but you’ll find the benefits of trail running far outweigh any downsides. For one, the softer terrain is much kinder on your body than asphalt, which means less risk of injury so you can keep your running game strong. In addition, trail running provides a welcome mental break that can help you focus on your workout—or nothing at all—for an experience that’s as therapeutic as it is healthy. If you’re looking to take your running skills to the next level, check out these five awesome trail running spots in Alabama and never suffer from a boring run again.

If you’re a seasoned trail runner, the Walls of Jericho trail provides plenty of challenge to push your skills even further. This six-mile out-and-back trail leads directly to a beautiful rocky gorge and waterfall, but beware the trail can be slippery once you get closer to the falls. It’s mostly a downhill run from the trailhead, which means you’ll be trekking uphill on the way out. Of course, this also means you’ll end your workout on a high note.

This loop trail in Monte Sano State Park is just long enough for an energizing run. If you’ve never been to Monte Sano State Park, this trail features some of the best views in the area. Rated as moderate, you’ll have a few terrain obstacles to keep you on your toes. If you’re strictly here for running, you’ll want to revisit the trail to explore the caves or test your rock climbing skills.

This 2.5-mile trail is recommended for more advanced trekkers. The start of the hike is not so difficult, but as you proceed on the route, things get tricky. So be prepared. Located in the Monte Sano Preserve, this is a great place for not only trail running but biking, environmental education, bird watching, and a relaxing picnic. 

Other than a few twists and turns, this adventure is relatively simple. In fact, there are several alternative routes that can extend your run up to 12 miles. Though mostly flat, you’ll find a few small hills for a little variation to your run. Many runners use the trail to train for marathons or other races because it’s peaceful, quiet, and not too heavily trafficked. You’ll also enjoy river views along parts of the trail, plus the fall foliage here makes for a beautiful run.

The Moss Rock Preserve has plenty of great routes for trail running. You’ll get the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere, but civilization is just beyond the tree line. Trails take you past waterfalls, beautiful rock facings, and offer an overall scenic experience. If you’re looking for a good run on this trail, it may be best to avoid the weekends—when it is most heavily trafficked. 

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Best Outdoor Festivals in Alabama Alabama is a dream when it comes to soaking up everything the great outdoors has to offer. That’s where outdoor festivals come in. From build-your-own boat celebrations in the summer to events dedicated entirely to local birds, Alabama has all of the bases covered. Here are the best outdoor festivals in the state!  

Happening at the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve is one of the best family-friendly events of the summer. This July, you can enjoy balsa wood boat races and build-your-own-boat races that send your fancy creations down the river through beautiful natural scenery. You can also expect plenty of food, games, a kid’s zone, and ice cream. Proceeds directly benefit the preserve’s environmental efforts. City of Pinson is a proud sponsor of this event.

Sponsored by Gadsden-Etowah Habitat for Humanity, this thrilling dragon boat race is a sight to behold. Paddlers board brilliantly colored Chinese-style dragon boats and embark on a wet and wild journey across the Coosa River. This high-profile event helps to provide housing through Habitat of Humanity, and has attracted major sponsors like Exchange Bank, Alfa Insurance , Riverview Regional Medical Center, and The Gadsden Times, to name a slight few.

This mega bird festival has been a favorite of locals and tourists for over 14 years and counting. The locale offers a prime viewing spot for fall migration, and there will plenty of guides on hand to take you to the best spots. Workshops, land and water tours (some include more than just birds!), speakers, and an expo round out the event to give you an up-close look at some of Alabama’s seasonal visitors. The expo is free to attend thanks to sponsors like the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation, Coastal Alabama Community College, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and more. You can also pay for a guided tour.

You might need to look twice to know that’s not a real dragon in the water. Bringing the ancient Chinese sport of dragon boat racing to Alabama, this August festival will have you on the edge of your seat, whether you’re in the boat or on dry land. New this year is the first ever SUP CUP, a stand-up paddle boarding competition that’s the only one of its kind in the state. It’s going down on the Alabama River, and you’ll be glad you didn’t miss it! A special thanks to Vulcan Value Partners, Auburn University at Montgomery, and Baptist Health for sponsoring this year’s festival.

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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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9 Best Watersport Retailers in Alabama There’s a reason Alabama is a hot destination: you can find just about any type of watersport imaginable year-round. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing but invigorating adventure on a stand-up paddleboard or you’re a thrill seeker looking to catch some waves on a jet ski, the water is calling your name. Start your adventure at one of these nine best watersport retailers in the state. 

This three-location chain (Athens, Dadeville, and Westover) is a premier boat retailer in Alabama, but they also stock a full shop of water sports equipment and accessories. Wakeboards, water skis, inner tubes, life jackets, ski ropes, and just about everything else you need for a day on the water can be found here. Their fans love them because of their friendly, no-pressure sales team and their dedication to helping you get what you came for.

If you’re new to stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking, you’ll want to test the waters at Eastern Shore Watersports. Known for their equipment rentals, you can experience the sports before you decide to buy. They sell some of the gently used inventory they’ve rented out, meaning you can score your new-to-you paddleboard or kayak at a lower-than-retail price.

As a national chain specializing in all things water, you can expect only the best brands and products when it comes to water sports. They’ve got everything you can imagine, from wakeboards and wakeskates to snorkeling gear to tubes, ropes, and even scuba gear. Their massive inventory ensures this is the only stop you’ll need to fulfill your watersports wishes.

Waterskiing, wakeboarding, and stand-up paddleboarding are the specialties here. You’ll find everything you need to get started, from life jackets and ropes to boards and bindings. Their customers love them because of their first-hand knowledge of the industry, ensuring you can get the best gear for your needs and budget.

Truth be told, this store is the go-to source for ALL things outdoors. This is the spot to stock up on helpful accessories for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, including dry bags, paddles, ground carts, life jackets, SUP deck bags, and swimsuits (of course). 

As one of the leading surfing havens in the country, Ron Surf Shop carries everything from surfboards and skimboards, to all the apparel that will make you look like a pro. This shop has been trusted by surfers and skaters of all skill levels, giving you everything you need for a day at the beach—and then some.

Find Ethan catchin waves!🌊

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Dedicated to all things wakeboarding, the pro shop at Singleton Marine will help you make the most of your day on the lake. They’ve got brand name wakeboards and accessories from trusted names like Ronix, Obrien , Hyperlite, and others. Since they’re at the marine, they’ll be the last place on your to-do list to enjoy your time on the water.

While most folks know Adventure Earth as the area’s leading bike store, they might not realize that this is also the place to score a high-quality surfboard or SUP. You’ll also find friendly service at Adventure Earth. What more could you ask for? 

Academy Sports and Outdoors has more than just team sports gear and goods. You can also find top notch watersports equipment for wakeboarding, paddleboarding, tubing, snorkeling, diving, and other activities. There are over a dozen store locations in Alabama, plus you always shop their online inventory.

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SPOTLIGHT: Things to Do in and Around Cheaha State Park, Delta, AL 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.

It’s not below freezing for once so... ⛰

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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. 

If you’re looking to wind down from your outdoor experience, head to Escape Zone for a challenging escape-the-room experience. This live action game will put your wits to the test as you try to make your way out of the locked room by finding clues and solving puzzles. It’s a fun diversion after you’ve seen and done it all at the park, especially for guests who are staying at the park overnight.

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.

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.

anyone else want to relive yesterday? WELCOME TO THE GOODDD LIFE PC ‘18 ‼️

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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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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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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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7 Best Motorsport Retailers in Alabama If you love off-roading, there’s no better place to be than Alabama. Here, off-roading isn’t just a sport—for many, it’s a passion fueled by their love of the great outdoors. You never have to go it alone, either. Throughout the state retailers have stepped up to provide the best in off-highway vehicles and gear. Get ready to ride—these seven fantastic motorsport retailers in Alabama have just what you need for an epic experience.

Fellow off-road experts are pulling the strings at this shop. Inside you’ll find all the parts and supplies you need to keep your off-roading vehicle in tiptop shape. They specialize in UTV, Jeep, and truck parts and accessories, including armor, roll bars, entertainment system, lift kits, shocks, suspension, brakes, tires, wheels, and everything else to trick out your ride. If you’re looking to upgrade or start building your dream vehicle from scratch, you’ll want to start here.

The top concern at Freedom Powersports is that the custom is satisfied. If you’re looking for a new set of wheels, you’ve come to the right place. Find all of the best brands in off-roading, from Polaris to TrailMaster. The service department at Freedom Powersports is among the very best, too. It doesn’t matter what kind of work you want to get done on your off-roading vehicle, they’ll help you out.   

The new Indian Scout Bobber has arrived! #indianmotorcycles #freedompowersports

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Providing ATVs, UTVs, and all the parts and accessories to make them ride right, you’ll want to check them out. They can service all the vehicles they sell, in addition to helping you keep your rig off-road ready with spare parts and upgrades. Find top brands like Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Kymco, and Polaris, among others.

Prattville Powersports 334-362-3988 1548 Highway 82 W

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If you’re looking for the best in off-roading, Champion’s showroom is glistening with shiny new and pre-owned vehicles just begging for a spin through Mother Nature. Polaris and Victory are the top brands here, meaning you’ll always find great quality along with a good deal. They also back up their products with firsthand knowledge and experience to keep your purchase working adventure after adventure.

While known for their Yamaha motorcycles, their inventory of new and used ATVs and UTVs can’t be overlooked. Kawasaki, Yamaha, Honda, and Hammerhead vehicles line their showroom floor, along with all the parts and accessories you need to make it yours. They also feature a full-service department to keep your vehicle just like new.

Come on down to Smith Brothers to claim your own Kawasaki toy, now offering 0.00% APR for the first 12 months!

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E-Z-Go, Slingshot, Textron—it’s only the best in off-roading at Bama Buggies. Featuring new and used vehicles, they offer financing to help you get into the driver’s seat faster than ever, or you can trade in your current vehicle and upgrade to a bigger and better one. While you’re there, make sure you stock up on accessories to give your ride some character.

If you could choose, which one would it be?!

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Offering some of the best in vehicles and service, the folks at Basch Brothers are off-road riders helping fellow off-road riders. They’re dedicated to helping you get the right vehicle to meet your needs, so you’ll have many years to enjoy your new toy. Along with new and used inventory, they also carry just about every part and accessory you can imagine. If they don’t have it, they’ll order it for you!

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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. 

#NorthFace for the cat. Why not?

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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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5 Wonderful Birdwatching Hikes in Alabama It takes time, practice, and planning to become a good birdwatcher, especially since they can fly away as quickly as you spot them. The perfect way to enjoy your birdwatching experience is by embarking on a hike through the wilderness. These five best birdwatching hikes in Alabama will give you your best chance of seeing some of the prettiest species in the state.

Home of the annual Festival of the Cranes, Wheeler was established specifically as a haven for migratory birds and other wildlife. Throughout the refuge are habitats conducive to breeding and roosting for sandhill cranes and wintering waterfowl, with over 300 total bird species calling the refuge home at some point. There are five designated nature trails to utilize for prime wildlife viewing: Atkeson Trail, Beaverdam Swamp Boardwalk Trail, Dancy Bottom Trail, Flint Creek, or the Wildlife Observation Trail. The National Wildlife Refuge created an amazing bird guide (downloadable via their website) that details the various species along with their commonality during each season. Woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and eastern bluebirds are among the most likely to be spotted here.

This site has been dubbed as one of the top four places in the country for spring migration viewing. Featuring over 135 acres of salt marshes, forests, dunes, a lake, and a beach, there are 420 bird species that have been sighted within the sanctuary (for comparison, Alabama as a whole plays home to roughly 445 species). Inside the sanctuary, bird viewers can embark on the three-mile trail system that winds through various habitats to give you the chance to see as many birds as possible. Many of the species visit the sanctuary for food and rest during their migration, and has been touted as “globally important” for migration.

Though much of this refuge is only accessible by boat, the various habitats make it an attractive spot for birds. Its more than 4,000 acres feature lakes, sloughs, hardwoods, and moist areas that both birds and other wildlife call home. Be sure to check their website for a trail map. Most commonly used by wintering waterfowl and wood duck for brooding and roosting, the area has also seen its share of wood storks and bald eagles at times. The refuge provides artificial nesting boxes, and has seen upwards of 10,000 waterfowl during the cooler months. 

Some Blue-winged teal preening and loafing in the rice. #waterfowlmanagement #waterfowl #ducks #duckhunting #usfws

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Though smaller compared to the previously mentioned refuges, this 50-acre botanical garden is an enjoyable attraction for birdwatchers. A paved walking path of nearly three-quarters of a mile takes visitors through a mixed hardwood forest, around the gardens, and near small ponds to give them a variety of bird-viewing areas. Spring and fall migration periods are your best chance to spot birds right now, but efforts continue to build its population of wintering birds, too.

Formerly known as Florala State Park, this beautiful site is situated on Lake Jackson and attracts a myriad of bird species during migratory seasons and winter months. Commonly seen are the northern mockingbird and northern cardinal, as well as thrashers, woodpeckers, orioles, herons, and egrets. Bald eagles have been known to frequent the area, too. The park offers an elevated boardwalk that can take visitors through the canopy over wetlands to spot a variety of bird species. 

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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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Making the Most out of Rickwood Caverns State Park State parks are among the best, most unique features of every state, especially if you happen to be in Alabama. It’s an inexpensive activity that offers more for your dollar than anywhere else. From hiking and biking trails to swimming, camping, and adventurous cave explorations, Rickwood Caverns State Park brings you closer to nature.

Located in the heart of Alabama, Rickwood Caverns State Park is a truly unexpected find. Entry to the park is just $3, with swimming and trips inside the cavern available a la carte. The cave is the main focal point of the park and has set a theme throughout its ground, with activities like gem mining and geocaching abounding. There’s a little something for every age and preference here, whether you’re an avid camper or hiker or simply like to be surrounded by nature every once in a while. 

Just a little trip to an absolutely stunning cave

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This short one-mile loop is a must-do if you’re visiting Rickwood Caverns State Park. The easy-to-moderate trail winds its way through forests and past beautiful rock formations. Look closely and you’ll see where the trail gets its name—seashell and leaf imprints are often visible on the rock surfaces.

Most folks come here to see the caverns, and for good reason: they’re simply breathtaking. The rock formations within the giant cave were created more than 260 million years ago. The cave maintains a comfortable 58-62 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, making it the perfect spot to warm up in the winter or cool off in the summer while you trek 175 feet below ground. Cave tours are $17 for adults and $8 for children ages five to 12.

If you’re looking to make the most of your visit, consider extending your stay by camping on site. You can bring an RV or trailer, or rough it the traditional way with a tent. Campsites offer access to 24-hour security, as well as restrooms and a dump station. As a camper, you can get a discounted rate to the caverns.

Fort Dobson

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While you’re in the area, explore some of the fun sights and activities outside of the state park. The Birmingham Zoo is only a 40-minute drive away, and displays over 800 animals. They’re open year-round and feature plenty of side activities for guests of all ages, including the zoo train, animal feedings, behind the scenes tours, slide, and zip-lining. 

Auntie duties

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This peaceful park is a gem in the bustling big city. Nestled along the water, the park is mostly used for recreation and events. It was constructed to help preserve some of the city’s heritage, and even reuses some of the rocks unearthed during the park’s development as seating and walls. Highlights include a skating area, .75-mile trail, playground, and outdoor gym equipment.

Extend your nature-based fun with a trip to Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Over 65 acres are filled with beautiful blooms in thematic gardens, along with pristine landscaping and the beloved Moon Tree. You can explore the indoor Garden Center or conservatory for more information on the plant life in the gardens. 

For barbecue that will honestly make you soul sing, check out SAW’s Soul Kitchen. There’s nothing like a little barbecue to fill you up and help you refuel. SAW’s specialties include SAW’s Sampler with pork, chicken, three wings, and one side, and SAW’s Original Pulled Pork. 

@eathuntsville | Pork'n Green DBL 🆙 | #soulkitchenlovers | #fanrepost | #INBirmingham | #sawsINHunstsville?🤔

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5 Energizing Hikes in Alabama There’s no better way to experience fall than right in the midst of Mother Nature. Luckily, Alabama features plenty of excellent hiking trails that can take you on a fall foliage journey while giving you an enjoyable workout. Hiking offers so much more than a walk in the woods—these five energizing hikes can help you clear your mind and prove good to your health. 

Part of the Sipsey Wilderness Trail System, the Randolph Trail provides hikers a fairly easy two miles before giving way to a beautiful payoff—a view of the majestic Feather Hawk Falls. Along the way, look for the remnants of two old churches with cemeteries and other historical structures. It’s not a difficult hike, but one that you’ll need to be in fairly decent shape for if you want to reach the falls.

This one is a bit lengthy, being six miles one-way, but it sprinkles in enough challenges for intermediate hikers without pushing you to your absolute limits. This trail is part of a larger trail system that spans for dozens of miles. The first four miles are relatively easy, and provide an enjoyable, energizing hike. You’ll travel over a few footbridges along the way, and have an excellent view of the creek at Devil’s Den. There are several extremely rocky areas shortly after Devil’s Den that are slightly challenging. The remaining two miles take you through the Cheaha Wilderness, including a steep ascent toward the very end.

This 10-mile trail system features plenty for beginners and intermediate hikers. Start with the Stagecoach Plateau Trail, a 1.4-mile loop that provides just enough time to get a quick workout. This trail connects directly with the Dragon’s Tail, another intermediate trail of two miles that can extend your walk in the woods without venturing too far off course. The Dragon’s Tail loop will bring you back to the Stagecoach Plateau so you can continue your course without losing any ground. The trails are situated on a nature preserve, so there’s plenty of beautiful fall foliage and other scenery to keep you company on your travels.

Touted as one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the state, the Sipsey River Trail places you right in the midst of serenity. Along the way, you’ll come across multiple waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, and plenty of isolated wilderness that blocks out the sounds and sights of civilization. The trail is 6.7 miles of beautiful scenery from all angles, and will certainly be one you’ll want to hike more than once.

Also known as the “park for all seasons,” this nature trail gives hikers the perfect views of fall foliage as you make your way around the 1.5-mile trail. The trail is dotted with footbridges and a covered bridge, and provides stunning views of the central lake. It’s the perfect distance if you’re wanting a quick pick-me-up to keep you energized without having to go to the middle of nowhere to enjoy natural views. 

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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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