Outdoor Adventures in Birmingham, AL
Birmingham, known as the Magic City, is the largest city in Alabama and is a treasure trove of outdoor gems for people that are passionate about reconnecting with nature in an otherwise urban landscape. There are beautiful routes for trail running, hiking, and mountain biking. Well-kept campgrounds and trails are perfect for camping and backpacking. Boulders and mountains with scenic views will provide plenty of adventure for climbers, and both flat water, and whitewater paddlers have many incredible options to choose from. After a long day of adventures, stop into a local eatery to fill your belly with great food and drink that make Birmingham a popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts.
Trail: The Birmingham area is loaded with trails both inside the city limits, and in the nearby outskirts. Moss Rock Preserve is a favorite for good reason. With 350 acres of protected land, there are 8 miles of challenging trails that meander alongside a shallow creek, and pass many small waterfalls along the way. Oak Mountain is a well-known state park that features 51 miles of trails with anything from a 3-mile loop that winds around a stunning lake, to a 17-mile backcountry loop. Whichever route is chosen, there will be plenty to see with the creeks, waterfalls, hardwood forests, pine-studded ridges, and rocky overlooks. Red Mountain Park boasts miles of multi-use trails for hiking and biking, and Turkey Creek Nature Preserve will have visitors returning again and again. There may be only 5 miles of trails, but the preserve's unique beauty will make the experience unforgettable.
Water: In the scorching Alabama summer, there's nothing better than finding a place to take a dip and cool off. Turkey Creek Nature Preserve has one of Alabama's top swimming holes. Ease into the creek via moss covered sandstone slip n' slide. Let the crystal clear water push you down as it plunges over a series of drops that have a carved out body-shaped channel, which guides you safely through the cascade and into the pool below. For another refreshing location, visit the Cahaba River, the longest free flowing river in the state of Alabama, perfect for paddling. Launch a canoe and enjoy a 7-mile flatwater paddle back to your car. Birmingham’s outskirts offer Clear Creek Recreation Area, located on the shores of Smith Lake, which is one of the cleanest manmade lakes in the country. This lake has over 500 miles of shoreline and is a popular destination for boating, swimming, and fishing. Drive only 30 miles from downtown to Oak Mountain State Park for several different lakes, all offering great flatwater paddling no matter what vessel you choose.
Rock: There are plenty of places for a climber to play, indoor or outdoor, in the Birmingham area. First Avenue Rocks is the city's first premier indoor bouldering facility. But for great climbing in the great outdoors, there are plenty of choices. Horse Pens 40 is considered by many to be one of the best bouldering sites in the country. At Hospital Boulders, just over an hour from the city’s center, offers some of the best quality sandstone around. But for many great quality routes for climbing, try Sand Rock Climbing. It is the perfect location for intermediate climbing, and with pinnacles spread out along the ridgeline overlooking Weiss Lake in the valley below, it’s no wonder it is a popular choice.
Nine essential pieces of camping equipment that you shouldn’t leave home without.
These locations have everything from ghost stories and sordid tales of mysterious deaths to natural wonders that are more awe-inspiring than scary.
Expert tips for your first car camping adventure
During the fall, camping in Alabama is simply sublime. Here, all the intel you need for a weekend in the woods.
Ready to do some deeper exploration of the Alabama outdoors? Here, tips on how to choose a backpack.
See All Stories in Birmingham, AL