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Five Top Outdoor Adventures In Alabama
Alabama is a state full of all kinds of adventures for outdoor enthusiasts – from fishing to hiking, camping and biking.
Among the activities are: rock climbing, water sports, ballooning, caving, horseback riding, cycling, skiing, golf, hiking, birding, hunting, camping, fishing and enjoying the different views that the state has to offer.
(1) Perhaps the number one outdoor adventure in the state is hiking/backpacking/walking. There are many areas throughout the state, including rugged outdoor trails to walking tracks that allow everyone to get outside and get some exercise.
Some of the major areas that make it a top activity are trips into the Little River Canyon along the Eberhart Trail in northeast Alabama where this canyon is the deepest east of the Mississippi. Hikers can also check out the adjacent Falls Trail in DeSoto State Park. For beginners a “beginner” is the 20-mile long Conecuh Trail in the Conecuh National Forest near Andalusia and visitors to Historic Blakely State Park will enjoy the relaxing trails there.
The most famous of the trails in Alabama is the 100 mile long Pinhoti Trail that runs from the southern end of the Talladega National Forest north to Georgia. In highly populated areas there are scenic trails on Mount Ruffner in Birmingham, 20 miles of trails near Huntsville in Monte Sano State Park and scenic trails at Mount Wade Preserve near Huntsville.
Adventurers will enjoy the 14-mile long Sipsey Fork Loop in the Sipsey Wilderness which is part of the Bankhead National Forest and offers spectacular views of the Wall of Jericho area near Hytop.
Casual music lovers will find hundreds of places around the state with songs in their own cities or towns. Other areas include Moundville Archaeological Park south of Tuscaloosa, Vulcan Park in Birmingham, Horseshoe Bend National Military Park in Dadeville, Noccalula Falls Park in Gadsden, Natural Bridge of Alabama in Natural Bridge, Shark Tooth Creek near Aliceville, Dismals Canyon in Phil Campbell, Old Cahawba Archaeological Park near Selma, beautiful beaches at Gulf Shores and a 2.5 mile hiking trail at the University of Alabama Arboretum.
(2) Birding is quickly becoming the number two outdoor activity as more and more birding trails open up around the state. Offering locations include Mobile Bay where there are 50 sites and to the south on Dauphin Island are several sites including the 164-acre Audubon Bird Sanctuary. A variety of migratory birds can also be seen at Fort Morgan on Mobile Bay. The Upper Cahaba River Birding Trail is located in Hoover County. The North Alabama Birding Trail stretches along the Tennessee River.
On the eastern side of the state bird watchers will find the Eufaula Wildlife Refuge which is home to the Hairless Bird. The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in the Gulf Coast offers a variety of migratory birds. In the upper part of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta there are many places to observe more than 250 species. Tour operators use pontoon boats, air boats and pirogue boats.
West of the Gulf Coast is the coast of Mobile Bay in the city of Fairhope which offers birders a high altitude trail to see hummingbirds at the Bay Week National Research Preserve.
Other sites include Perry Lakes Park in Marion County which offers birders the nation’s first tower that rises above the canopy of trees along the Cahaba River. During peak summer viewing season, some 200,000 gray bats can be seen emerging from Sauta Cave in northern Alabama near Scottsboro at the Sauta Cave Wildlife Refuge.
Outside of Birmingham, in central Alabama, is Oak Mountain State Park which offers an elevated Nature Trail providing views of tawny owls, blackbirds, redbirds, great horned owls and rare white turkey.
(3) Skydiving, air travel and ballooning are also among the top attractions with the highest points including Cullman at the airport, Elberta at Horak Airport, Pell City at Pell City Airport, Tuskegee at Moton Field and hot air balloon tours in Birmingham, Decatur, Gulf Shores / Orange Beach, Huntsville, Montgomery and long flight history in Gulf Shores / Orange Beach.
(4) With thousands of lakes, rivers, streams and Gulf beaches, the sports of canoeing, kayaking and sailing are enjoyed year round around the state.
Boat trips are offered on the Alabama River in Montgomery, the Black Warrior in Tuscaloosa, the Tennessee River in Joe Wheeler State Park and around Mobile Bay.
Boaters will enjoy the trip up Bottle Creek to Mound Island in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta which is the largest delta in the country. Whitewater paddlers can experience Class II and Class III beginner-level water on the middle fork of the Black Warrior River near Blountsville.
Kayakers find a trip down the Cahaba River near Birmingham to be a fun trip. The Cahaba is considered the longest free-flowing river in the state and is home to the rare two-foot tall Cahaba Lilies. Sea kayaking is a popular sport around Dauphin Island and the Barrier Islands near south of Mobile. The best kayak training river in the Southeast is the Coosa River near Wetumpka with Class II Rapids and the challenging Moccasin Gap.
At the bottom of the largest canyon east of the Mississippi flows the Little River Canyon which offers advanced – to expert whitewater Class IV and Class V Rapids along Johnnies Creek and you will also find Class II Rapids on the fork of the line- the sun of the Little River. Other white water trails can be found near the Section on South Sauty Creek that offer Class III and IV rapids.
For a more enjoyable paddle, you can take the 44 mile Loyd Owens Canoe Trail near Heflin on a section of one of the most famous rivers in the eastern US – the Tallapoosa River. The second route is along the beautiful Escatawpa River near Wilmer.
The less adventurous may prefer a boat ride on Mobile Bay to see the 1885 Middle Bay Lighthouse, take a tour of the Bay or enjoy a Bay Crossing on the Mobile Bay Ferry that carries ships between the Civil War fortifications of Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines.
(5) With many lands the state offers many places for cycling and mountain biking. Oak Mountain State Park has a three hour, 17 mile mountain bike loop. 12 miles of trails can be found on the Swayback Bridge Trail near Wetumpka and for those wanting to take a longer hike there is the 56-mile Auburn-Tuskegee-Loachapoka Loop. There is also a 40-mile scenic route between historic Wetumpka and Tallassee.
The most difficult route may be the scenic Horseblock/Cheaha Mountain Ride that covers 40 miles from Anniston up Cheaha Mountain to the highest point in Alabama. A more leisurely route is the turn-of-the-road tracks from Anniston east to the Alabama/Georgia line along the Chief Ladia Trail which extends over 27 miles of paved former railroad bed.
In the northern part of the state in Fort Payne there is the 32-mile DeSoto-Mentone Ridge Run with a two-mile side trip option to DeSoto Falls.
Along Alabama’s beautiful Gulf Coast, bicyclists will enjoy the 24-mile East Coast Trail which is a hiking/biking trail from the USS
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