Step Outside - Alabama WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - Alabama 144 144 Wed, 29 May 2024 07:15:47 -0500 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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5 Beautiful Scenic Hikes in Alabama For generations, Alabaman hikers have stopped to take in the majestic mountains or stare in wonder at the cascading waterfalls as they made their way across the wilderness. Now, you, too, can experience all the natural beauty Alabama has to offer. Below you’ll find five of the most scenic hikes in the state to get you started! 

This is a roughly two-mile hike that’s suitable for more skilled hikers. You might see horses, dogs, and mountain bikers along the path, as well as other hikers, along the way. The elevation gain isn’t too bad, at just over 400 feet, but the 90-foot waterfall at the end of the hike makes this a jaunt worth having. 

The Walls of Jericho Trail provides a much more difficult hike. This trail also features a waterfall, dogs, and horses, but the elevation gain is almost 1,700 feet, and the rocks can be quite slick. Be ready for bugs. But if you’re up for the challenge, an overnight stay along the trail will grant you some of the best nighttime views anywhere in the country.

The Chinnabee Silent Trail, part of the Cheaha Wilderness, is a moderate trail, lasting just over seven miles. It is recommended for use from March until November. You might see a few dogs along the path, but they must be kept on a leash. You’ll find great waterfalls, and a totally secluded area. 

The Rainbow Mountain Loop Trail cuts through a moderately difficult forest. Although the trail is only a mile and a half, it is viewed as one of the more moderately difficult paths in the area due to a few steep areas and rock formations. You may see a few streams, but no major waterfalls. If you’re in the mood for a good, quick workout, then Rainbow Mountain Loop Trail is just the ticket.

The Cave Creek Trail from Cheaha Trailhead in Cheaha State Park is an almost seven-mile loop with a waterfall along the way. The trailhead is one possible starting point along the larger Pinhoti Trail. According to recent hikers, the west side of the loop can be quite difficult, as it is very rocky. Consider camping along the path, but beware of possible snakes. 

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5 Exhilarating Jet Skiing Spots in Alabama Alabama’s abundance of lakes and its beautiful seaside coastline make this state an ideal destination for jet skiing. Whether you’re a master jet skier or just learning the ropes, there are plenty of beautiful places to speed across the water in search of your next adventure. Take your jet ski for a spin at one of these five perfect jet skiing spots in Alabama. 

Also known as the Sunset Capital of Alabama, this little barrier island is home to white sandy beaches that make for the perfect jet ski outing. You can rent a jet ski on the island or bring your own. If you’re searching for calmer waters, put your jet ski in on the eastern side of island, where the large sand bar keep the bay waters calm. The sand bar is also a great spot for some peace and quiet. Here you’ll also find a nice collection of unspoiled sea shells that will make a nice addition to your Instagram account.

As one of the premier beaches in the state, Gulf Shores is brimming with jet ski opportunities. Extreme Watersports offers guided waverunner tours that take guests up close to dolphins and other wildlife, in addition to jet ski rentals for those looking to set out on their own. Bear Point Marina is one of the few spots that offer a no-wake zone, which makes it an ideal spot for beginners or families.

Right on the Alabama/Florida state line lies Perdido Key, an area commonly mistaken for either Orange Beach or Florida territory. Although much of the island lies in Florida, the Alabama side of the area offers prime waters for jet skiers of all skill levels. Head to Flora-Bama Marina & Watersports and rent a jet ski for an hour or a day and enjoy close proximity to the various islands in the area.

Nestled against the Alabama/Georgia state line, Valley’s location on Lake Harding makes it a mecca for jet skiers. The Alabama side of the lake offers dozens of calm coves for beginner riders to learn the art of jet skiing. You can rent a watercraft from Tri-City Watersports and spend your day making waves and enjoying the views. 

This family favorite destination is a beautiful backdrop for a day of fun in the sun. Head to one of Lakeside Marina’s two locations to rent your jet ski, or put in your own at their boat ramp. This lake offers plenty of beautiful sights to keep you company on your day of play, including the iconic lighthouse at Children’s Harbor. The lake has lots of big water areas and small coves alike to satisfy any rider’s preferences.

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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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10 Best Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails in Alabama! Outdoor lovers and their furry friends rejoice! Alabama is full of incredible hiking trails that are perfect for exploring with your canine companion. Whether you're looking for a peaceful stroll, a challenging mountain bike trail, or a secluded nature preserve, we have compiled a list of ten dog friendly trails that are sure to please.

This expansive park is home to a popular off-leash dog area, perfect for a relaxed walk or for an invigorating game of fetch. On top of that, visitors can take in the sights of the city's biggest event each year, the Auburn CityFest.

Visitors to Moss Rock Preserve can marvel at the breathtaking 349-acre nature system complete with forest systems, large rock outcroppings, streams, waterfalls, wildlife, and other unique natural features. Dogs can be off-leash as they explore, and with six rare species of plants and a rare variant of Little River Canyon Sandstone Glade, there is no shortage of wonders to discover.

This 2.6 acre fenced-in park features plenty of shade trees and grassy areas, perfect for a leisurely stroll with your pup. Better yet, there are three separate fenced-in areas, with one primarily designated for smaller dogs. Allowing dogs to play off-leash, this park is sure to provide hours of joy for all its guests.

Located next to the spectacular pavilions and fields of Black Creek Park, this dog park is the perfect spot for a tranquil mid-day break amidst the park's stunning natural areas. Dogs can run off-leash while owners can relax and appreciate the beautiful outdoor surroundings.

At 11,632 acres, this park is Alabama’s largest, and is home to some of the state's most breathtaking rock outcroppings and nature trails. With the widest variety of outdoor activities to be found in any state park, Oak Mountain provides visitors with a truly unforgettable experience - and that includes the beloved four-legged family members!

This park is the best place to observe this boundary and its unique intersection of ecosystems. Come see for yourself why Tuscaloosa natives and their furry friends alike, love to stretch their legs and take in the scenery.

With 26 acre Lake Chewacla, there is no shortage of activities to keep both you and your pup entertained. Bring your own kayak or canoe and take a leisurely paddle around the lake, or try your luck at fishing for bream, bass, or catfish.

Follow the trails of this Birmingham park as you explore the athletic facilities, recreational play areas, and family gathering spots. With plenty of open areas, this trail offers a perfect opportunity for active humans and their canine friends to exercise and take in the stunning natural beauty of the park.

Prattville is home to over 750 acres of land, providing plenty of opportunities to explore and appreciate the outdoors with your pup. It is one of the gems of the city, offering a peaceful spot to roam off-leash and bask in the beauty of nature.

Boasting pavilions, natural areas and well maintained fields, Black Creek Park offers a plethora of possibilities for a day-long excursion with your pup. There are two large dog parks for your furry friend to explore, and plenty of sitting areas to take a break and take in the sights and smells of the day.

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5 Great Hiking Trails in Alabama The sun is out and nature is waiting for you to get out and explore with the whole family. Soak in the elegant wonders of Alabama the Beautiful by hiking and strolling among the trees. These trails are some of the most scenic sites in the state and are conducive to kids of all ages! 

For a view that is straight out of a painting, visit the boardwalk trail at Cheaha State Park. Centered in Talladega’s natural beauty and forestry, the short trail leads you to Bald Rock Outlook. The spectacular vista is a panorama worth viewing, and is accessible to the younger children in your family.

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If you love the mountains, then you will love the Bucca Family Trail at Monte Sano State Park. The trail is an easy stroll among the greenery of Monte Sano and, in the spring season, leads you along a path of elegant wild azaleas. If you have older kids and are up for more of a challenge, the trail connects to the Plateau Loop Trail leading to the gorgeous view at O’Shaughnessy Point. 

If you’re a family that loves all things water, visit the Lakeside Trail at Lake Lurleen State Park. The scenic lake views are perfect for picnicking, and there are even spots to cast your fishing rod. You’ll enjoy the serenity of the clear waters, while your kids will love keeping an eye out for the catfish, bream, and bass that live in the waters.

If you’re on your way to Memphis for a family getaway, Dismals Canyon is the perfect spot to get out of the car and stretch your legs. At some points, Dismals Canyon can be an easy hike that will take you to a wondrous world of endless greens and hidden creeks. The haunting conservatory will enchant you and your family, and will have you longing to wander back through the rows of emerald trees year after year.

For an educational hike on historic lands, bring the family to Buck’s Pocket State Park and walk in the lands once occupied by the Cherokee and French settlers in the 1700s, and eventually the logging community in the 1940s. Explore scenic routes that, at some points, overlook the magnificent canyon. This trail is a little more difficult, but still possible for kids. Buck’s Pocket will be a beautiful site they will never forget.

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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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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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5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in Alabama Looking for new ways to get out in the great outdoors this summer? Explore Alabama the Beautiful through a kayaking adventure. After participating in a safety course, you’ll be able to comfortably enjoy Alabama’s waters armed with a paddle. These five locations are not only scenic, but easy to navigate if you’re new to the sport. 

Not ready for rapids? No problem. Lake Tuscaloosa is a calm and quiet place to get your bearings with a paddle. The lake provides endless water space to paddle around in, and strengthen those arm muscles for more challenging courses. Not to mention, the lake is full of wildlife and surrounded with beautiful scenery.

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If you’re looking to immerse yourself in nature, kayaking in Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve is one way to do it. You’ll see everything while paddling along the greens, from turtles to varieties of creek fish. If you’re feeling confident along their easier trails, there are plenty of more challenging waterways to test out your newly-honed skills.

There is nothing quite like the sight of Oyster Bay at night. Wild Native tours provides day time and night time tours along the coast of Alabama, offering you the chance to see dolphins by the light of the moon. If you love discovering the wonders of the ocean, Oyster Bay will not disappoint.

For a kayaking experience that will give you the tools you need to be a safe and efficient kayaker, Unphiltered Kayaking in Guntersville is the place to be. Unphiltered provides a number of courses to give you kayaking skills to take with you wherever you paddle. Not to mention, North Alabama is a beautiful scene to learn your new favorite water activity.

The Bon Secour River is not only gorgeous, but it has plenty of shallow waters for beginners to explore. The peaceful feel of the river can help you gain the confidence you need as you perfect your skills. Beach N’ River Rental in Foley provides four-hour rentals that are self-guided and perfect for those newbies ready to explore on their own.

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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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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.

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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5 Beautiful Backpack Camping Spots in Alabama For a truly unique, primitive camping experience, escape to the wilderness of picturesque Alabama. Across the state, you’ll find secluded campsites tucked away in the stunning scenic beauty of the state’s forests and parks. Sleep under the stars at these five beautiful backpack camping spots in Alabama. 

Though this state park is well known for its traditional campsites and cabin rentals, they also feature two campsites in a more rustic setting. The CCC Quarry campsite is just over a mile’s trek from the country store within the park, right off the White Trail. The Never-Never-Land campsite is tucked along a stream just three-quarters of a mile from the Lost Falls Trailhead. Look for the man-made trailside shelter and you’ll know you’ve reached the right place. Each of these campsites take you straight into the heart of nature, away from the noise of the park and highway so you can enjoy a serene experience.

This unique camping experience takes quite a bit of effort to get there, as most of the hike is uphill. However, once you get there you’ll be welcomed by natural vistas and peace and quiet. If you do choose to venture away from the tent, head back to the main part of the park to visit the namesake caverns, a truly stunning sight. The cave is a cool 60 degrees year-round and features some of the most beautiful natural formations you’ll see anywhere. Best of all, since most of your hike was a strenuous upward climb to the campsite, getting back down won’t be nearly as difficult.

This locale doesn’t offer as much solitude since the camping here is trailside (and the trails are quite popular). However, if you’re looking for experience over peace and quiet, you need to see the scenic wonders here. Throughout the area you’ll find lush rivers, canyons, waterfalls, and forests, not to mention a multitude of overlooks for panoramic views. The area is full of prime hiking trails ranging in difficulty, but since retaining the natural splendor is high priority here, the trails aren’t always well-marked. Trail 209 offers a few primitive campsites with amazing views, taking you several miles deep into the area for a scenic experience.

Nothing quite tops Alabama’s largest state park for some good old backpack camping. At a sprawling 9,940 acres, you’ll find endless scenic beauty to absorb. For the best, up close and personal views of the surrounding wildlife, opt to stay over in one of the state park’s designated backcountry sites. At these sites, you’ll find more than 50 miles of trails and loops that all levels of backpackers can enjoy. Keep in mind: Open fires are not allowed, but campers are welcome to use camp stoves for food. 

A backpacker’s paradise, there’s something for level of skill to enjoy at Conecuh National Forest. The Conecuh Trail meanders through 20 miles of the eastern section of the forest. Backpackers can take in the incredible wealth of wildlife diversity throughout this forest. Winter hiking is actually very enjoyable here, as its less buggy and hot. 

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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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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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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.

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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. 

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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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