Summer in Alabama is pretty intense. For those that enjoy hiking, this can be a deterrent. As temperatures creep into the 90s and beyond, I don't blame them one bit. It's hard to find enjoyment outside while dripping with sweat! For this reason alone, we make sure our summer hikes center around water.
Whether it's stopping to play in the water or simply enjoying the mist from a waterfall as we watch while enjoying lunch, planning to hit up a water feature is fun for everyone, and it's the best way to beat the heat!
Check out a few of my favorites and add them to your summer adventure list!
Alum Hollow Trail
Managed by the Land Trust of North Alabama and located on the Green Mountain Nature preserve, this trail is known and most visited for the cave found at the end. Although the cave is a big highlight, my favorite part has always been the water. Before reaching the cave, you cross a bridge over a creek. My family loves to stop here to run our hands, and sometimes feet, in the water. It's the perfect break from the summer sun and makes for a nice picnic spot before continuing.
The creek won't be your only chance for water; follow the trail and be rewarded with a small but beautiful waterfall. It's important to note that getting down to the fall can be slippery and steep; use caution and wear shoes with good traction.
Distance 2.2 miles
Location 13800 S Shawdee Rd SE, Huntsville 35803
Bethel Springs Nature Preserve
With over 300 acres to explore, Bethel Springs offers the best waterfall feature in the Huntsville area. Getting to the falls may be a little challenging for some, but the cool breeze and relaxing sound is well worth the struggle. While you can't splash in the water (it's flowing into a cave), there are plenty of large rocks nearby for soaking up as much waterfall mist as possible.
If splashing is what your heart desires, be sure to stop by Bethel Creek near the preserve entrance. The short (0.3m) gravel trail is perfect for little adventurers or anyone looking for a less strenuous day out.
The property has picnic tables, so this is an excellent place to meet friends and spend the day exploring and splattering around.
Distance Varies depending on trail
Location 2641 Cherry Tree Road, Gurley 35748
Wildflower Nature Trail
A Rocket City family favorite, this location is definitely one of our natural hot commodities. The trail is short and, depending on when you visit, water abundant. It's the best of all things that get kids and parents alike excited about being outside and has more spots than I can count for a day of water fun.
The trail itself runs alongside Fagan Creek and is less than 1 mile in. If you can pull your kids away from the creek, there's a waterfall just past Wildflower Trail if you take the path on the left. Good luck getting to it; my boys never want to leave the creek, so I've only seen it once!
Pro tip: Arrive early for a parking spot. This trail is in a residential area with limited parking. If you prefer a more secluded space for you and your family, travel away from the entrance to locate a spot. On days with good water flow, the area near the trailhead can get crowded quickly.
Distance 0.7 miles
Location 506 Cleermont Drive, Huntsville 35806
Jones Valley Loop
One of Huntsville's best-kept secrets is Jones Valley Loop. This trail runs along and loops around a creek, giving you an entire hike with water views and opportunities for splashing. As with all the locations, water levels will depend on rain.
For the best water experience, plan to visit these trails a few days after heavy rain.
Distance 0.8 miles
Location 2275 Cecil Ashburn, Huntsville 35802 (located in the back of church parking lot)