Rising from the flat ground that surrounds it, Rainbow Mountain in the City of Madison is a nature-lover's paradise.
I have heard folks talk about this “mountain” in Madison before, and honestly, I wasn’t exactly sure what my pup Noah and I would find on an early Saturday morning last month.
But trust me: it was worth the adventure.
The trailhead to the network of paths winding across and down Rainbow Mountain is located at the top of the mountain. You can easily navigate by either plugging the address in your GPS or simply following the signs once you get off of Hughes Road. You will wind your way through beautiful, tree covered neighborhoods as you gain 350+ feet of elevation. You know you have reached the top when you see the giant water tower. Parking can be found at the main lot or in the dirt parking lots under the water tower area: 230 Stoneway Trail, Madison, AL 35758.
With Noah on leash, per the rules, we headed out to explore all that Rainbow Mountain has to provide!
This Land Trust of North Alabama preserve offers more than three miles of trails. You will find easy paths perfect for the entire family closest to the parking area. We spotted a lot of families out there, many had friendly pups, like Noah, in tow!
We immediately noticed the rocky formations along the upper section of the Rainbow Loop Trail. As if on a natural playground, we dotted from rock to rock, acting like kids again! Be careful if you visit in the fall or winter, the fallen leaves and moss can make the rocks a little slippery, but totally manageable, even with a very eager pup pulling you down the trail on his leash.
The mountain has a diverse range of habitats varying from the hot westerly slopes to cooler moist easterly slopes. I spotted old growth oak and hickory trees, and some watched very committed squirrels working hard collecting fallen acorns… that got Noah’s attention for sure!
Plan your trip out before you go, the trails are well marked, but having a game plan just makes your trip more enjoyable. The more difficult, steep, rocky terrain can be found as you go down the side of the mountain. Follow trails for Stoneridge Trail, Jake’s Trail, High Pass Trail for the steeper adventure, the one we didn’t tackle this time around.
We stuck to the Rainbow Mountain loop trail and Balance Rock, named for the amazing rock, rising from the ground and perfectly perched. It makes a wonderful backdrop for a selfie. We explored some of the rock outcroppings, and small cave entrances before heading back towards the playground and pavilion area.
Expect lots of “wow” moments, as the vistas are stunning in every direction. I was lucky, since it was the fall and trees had all but lost their leaves, I could see even further than you can expect to during the summer months.
The covered pavilion is the perfect spot for picnics, but honestly, there’s so much space to spread out. You can find a little rock to call your own, spread out your picnic blanket and enjoy Rainbow Mountain’s extreme beauty as long as you want! The best part about this hiking mecca: it is free! Enjoy!