Monte Sano State Park - Hiking

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About

Summary

Nature lovers, weekend warriors, or those suffering from nature deficit syndrome will embrace part or all of the 2,140 acres of southern Appalachian forest known as Monte Sano State Park. This popular park, inside the city limits of Huntsville, offers spectacular outdoor adventures for a quick workout, short or long hikes, camping, picnics, bike riding, meeting space for business or personal use and more.

Written by

Loretta Lynn

Distance

0.2 miles

20 trails from .2 up to 3.5 miles, point to point and a few loops and connectors

Destination Distance From Downtown

3.1 miles

Difficulty

3 of 5 diamonds

3- Numerous trails varying in degree from easy to moderate to challenging terrains. Great for novices to experts, runners and hikers.

Time To Complete

2 hours

1-4+ hours, depending upon which trails you choose to hike or run and then return on another trail

Seasonality

All Seasons

Great anytime of year, be more attentive during rainy seasons, very slippery. Spring is beautiful with new blooms and fall being the most picturesque. Mountain Mist is a popular (runners & bikers) trail anytime.

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Dogs must be kept on 6' leash or in crate (campers & cabins), $15 per night fee, see additional restrictions http://www.alapark.com/Alabama-State-Parks-Dog-Friendly-Policies

Fees Permits

Yes

Honor system trail daily fee $3, Park day fees: Adults $5, Ages 4-11 $2, Seniors & Active Military $2, Age 3 and under Free. Other fees for camping and cabins, Disc Golf.

Review

Intro

Nature lovers, weekend warriors, or those suffering from nature deficit syndrome will embrace part or all of the 2,140 acres of southern Appalachian forest known as Monte Sano State Park. This popular park, inside the city limits of Huntsville, offers spectacular outdoor adventures for a quick workout, short or long hikes, camping, picnics, bike riding, meeting space for business or personal use and more. Monte Sano is an excellent location for a quick respite or longer retreat with scenic waterfalls and more than 30 miles of trail, perfect for beginners to expert hikers, runners and mountain bikers.

Enthusiasts can go from the Earth to the moon. After exploring vigorous trails with scenic overlooks and abundant wildlife, caving or rock climbing, visitors can visit the Observatory and Von Braun Planetarium and get an up close look at the galaxy (programs on Saturday nights).

What Makes It Great

The trails are fairly well marked, maintained and dog friendly. Visit the Fire Tower, Boulder Squeeze, a cave or the Observatory. Hard soil and gravel footpaths meander around the campgrounds and navigate the perimeter of the cabins encircling the mountain offering a variety of trails (2/10ths to 3.5 miles). Trails are rated from easy (Bucca Family, Fire Tower and Bog) to very difficult (Cold Springs, Natural Well and Warpath Ridge). Several trails start at 1500’ then descend, winding through the valley of the hardwoods to 1100’.

Mountain Mist, a popular running and biking trail, is a challenge with rocks, narrow pathways and tree roots lining the ascent. This route takes you by massive boulders and shelters. Moderate to difficult due to terrain and at 3.5 miles, the South Plateau loop can be picked up at O’Shaughnessy Point. This trailhead is the launch for five interconnecting trails. Hikers can veer off to Bucca Family, Bog and Fire Tower then ends near the park office and Japanese Tea Garden. The North Plateau Trail (blue markers), from the Observatory, to Sinks Trail (red), descends from 1500’ to 1300’, levels off and splits to Logan’s Trail, or Sinks. A mile up, with sinkholes on your left, the trail meets up with Stone Cuts and Keith Trail.

This trail makes a counter clockwise circle around Golan Heights. Take Stone Cuts to the Boulder Squeeze, a cool narrow hike in, around and through two story boulders. Head towards camp or take Logan’s Point which is less travelled, descends a few hundred feet, has footbridges, and leaves the park for half-a-mile. It circles Panther Knob, a connector trail with more boulders to scale. Cross Mountain Mist and go back to the Observatory. Natural Well Trail leads hikers and cavers to a 186’ vertical shaft and cavern.

Who is Going to Love It

Escape your daily routine and go on an adventure, treasure hunting with geocaching or "tee off" on an 18 hole disc golf course. Hike one of the twenty stimulating trails for both mind and body, challenge yourself. Trail runners, mountain bikers, novice or experienced hikers and rock climbers return to appreciate the beauty and get a great workout. Prime escape by yourself, or with family and friends for camping or caving one of Huntsville’s best scenic destinations to partake in many outdoor activities. Monte Sano also indulges rappellers, cavers and  bouldering. The National Speological Society is based out of Monte Sano State Park. Huntsville has an extensive cave system with more than 240 cataloged caves.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Day use fees, $3 for trail users, $5 inside the park, fees for camping vary, from $13 for primitive camping to $26 for water and electric. See State Park link for additional fees. 

Driving Directions: From I-565 take exit 17b Governors Dr. Follow to top of mountain and turn left on Monte Sano Blvd.Go 2.5 miles and turn right on Nolen Ave. Follow it 1 mile until you arrive at the park.

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Location

Monte Sano State Park

34.745297, -86.511766

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