Some of the best things about fall camping are the smell of the fresh fallen leaves; the crisp, cool breeze; a notable absence of mosquitos; a warm fire at night; and s’mores. Thankfully, Birmingham is surrounded with great places to enjoy them all. Whether you are a backpacker, tent camper, or RV’er, you are guaranteed to find a place to camp within two hours of Birmingham that suits your taste. Here are 10 of our favorites.
1. Sipsey Wilderness
For the camper that is more interested in hiking than sitting for hours around a campfire, you’ve got to try the Sipsey Wilderness . It is a popular backpacking trail that will give you the all-nature experience you’re looking for. Forget the campground-provided wifi and water hookups. At the Sipsey Wilderness, you’re on your own. And that’s how backpackers like it.
2. Desoto State Park
With incredible views from the top of Lookout Mountain, DeSoto State Park is one of our favorite places for camping. Choices include both improved campsites as well as primitive camping and two backcountry campsites with shelters. There are more than 25 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as kayaking, bouldering and rappelling opportunities.
3. Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park
Tannehill is a great place to visit in the fall whether you’re camping or not. With interesting things such as Trade Days, where “shoppers and swappers” peruse booths of knives, jewelry, clothing, tools and many other hand-made and unique items you can’t find anywhere else. With woodcarver shows, festivals and programs, you’ll never run out of things to do at Tannehill. Bike, walk or hike Tannehill’s gorgeous trails and check out the blast furnaces, cabins and old mill from the 1800s.
4. Pinhoti Trail
For the more ambitious and primitive camper, the Pinhoti is perfect for you. It is a paradise for backpackers. With a whopping 339 miles of trails from Cheaha State Park to Talladega National Forest, you’ll have to pack carefully and plan meticulously. With creeks, wildlife, beautiful views and unparalleled solitude, the Pinhoti won’t let you down if you’re looking for adventure.
5. Buck’s Pocket State Park
Buck’s Pocket State Park features a campground for the campers that need amenities such as water and electricity, as well as a primitive camping area for the tent campers that like roughing it a little more. Along with over 20 miles of hiking trails, there is also a playground, an old drying kiln, and a picnic shelter.
6. Cheaha State Park
You won’t believe the views at Cheaha . The state park is host to the highest mountains in the state, and offers several types of camping options: primitive, semi-primitive, improved, and group primitive campgrounds. With trails, overlooks and waterfalls galore, you’ll run out of memory in your camera before you run out of energy. You can enjoy rappelling and rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, and checking out the buildings such as the Indian Relics Museum, Gem Mine, and Civilian Conservation Corps Museum.
7. Oak Mountain State Park
Oak Mountain State Park is great for tent campers, RV’ers and backpackers. It is, without a doubt, a state park that has something for everyone. It is the largest park in the state with 51 miles of hiking and biking trails to explore and many waterfalls to discover. Also available are boat rentals, an archery park, an educational Interpretive Center, and wildlife rehabilitation center.
8. Brushy Lake Campground
For backcountry campsites that are as primitive as they come, Brushy Lake Campground wins the award. Nestled along the shore of a 33-acre freshwater lagoon, you’ll find yourself getting lost in the beauty of the blue-green, smooth-as-glass water. It is the best base camp for hiking the Sipsey Wilderness and Bankhead National Forest, and in itself, is a paradise waiting to be explored. With only 13 campsites available, it is a smaller campground, but well-worth the visit with incredible waterfalls and endless nearby hiking trails.
9. Wind Creek State Park
Wind Creek State Park features one of the largest state-operated campgrounds in the U.S., so this place is huge. It hugs the shores of beautiful Lake Martin and makes for some beautiful sunrises and sunsets. There are just under 29 miles of hiking trails, so you’ll have plenty of time to relax by the fire after a little exploring in the woods. If you’re a fan of birding trails, Wind Creek is also a stop on Alabama’s Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail .
10. Lake Guntersville State Park
For the tent campers that like camping lakeside, Lake Guntersville would make a great choice. The serenity of the placid, beautiful waters of the lake will make your stay more peaceful. There are 36 miles of trails to stretch your legs and explore a little, and can be customized for a short .5 mile hike, a moderate 3.5 mile hike, or a combination of trails for a hike that is as long as you like. Everywhere you go in this park beautiful, so bring a camera and have fun.