5 Hidden Outdoor Gems Within 60 Miles of Tuscaloosa

Oak Mountain State Park, at just 60 miles from Tuscaloosa, offers nearly 10,000 acres for outdoor enthusiasts.
Oak Mountain State Park, at just 60 miles from Tuscaloosa, offers nearly 10,000 acres for outdoor enthusiasts. Alby Headrick
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Tuscaloosa is known for a lot of things—football, hospitality, great food—but dig a little deeper and you’ll discover some spectacular outdoor gems.

Fortunately, this big small town is just a stone’s throw away from some of Alabama’s best outdoor offerings, so a short drive can get you anywhere you want to go—whether that's rocks, woods, water, or trails. Here are five hidden outdoor gems within 60 miles of the city that you don't want to miss.

1. Perry Lakes Park, 54 Miles from Downtown

Birding tower at Perry Lakes Park, built by Rural Studio.
Birding tower at Perry Lakes Park, built by Rural Studio. Thomas Wilson

Perry Lakes Park is a little-known gem in one of Alabama’s most rural counties, about an hour south of Tuscaloosa. The park is most known for its 100-foot bird tower that overlooks a breathtaking, bald cypress swamp. The park also features nearly 10 miles of hiking trails and a shallow, sandy swimming area along the Cahaba River, perfect for swimmers and paddlers alike.

2. Moss Rock Preserve, 44 Miles from Downtown

Boulders at the Moss Rock Preserve.
Boulders at the Moss Rock Preserve. SG

If you make a trip to Moss Rock Preserve , get ready to climb some boulders. At Boulder Field, two-story boulders are within mere feet of the park’s entrance and provide climbers dozens of unique challenges. With more than 12 miles of trails, Moss Rock is also popular with hikers .

3. Lake Lurleen State Park, 12 Miles from Downtown

View of Lake Lurleen from the Lakeside Trail.
View of Lake Lurleen from the Lakeside Trail. Wikimedia Commons

With 23 miles of multi-use trails, a 250-acre lake, and numerous campsites, Lake Lurleen State Park has something for everyone. Bring or rent a canoe to paddle on one of West Alabama's largest waterways, or mount your bike for some of the best mountain biking in the state.

4. Munny Sokol Park, 6 Miles from Downtown

Munny Sokol Park
Munny Sokol Park Stephanie Kirkland

Enjoy hiking and biking? Then spend a day at Munny Sokol Park , where 325 acres of trails await you. Full of twists, turns, climbs, and descents, these well-maintained, wooded trails allow for quick, secluded getaways.

If you have only 30 minutes to ride, shorter routes provide mountain bikers the option for a quick workout. Riders with more than two hours to spare, however, can easily tackle the entire park. Munny Sokol has some short, technical climbs, roots, and rocks that test riders’ skills, including some mile-long loops not far from the main trailhead. For experienced riders, the Antique Creek Trail provides a challenge with roots, rocks, and steep climbs, descents, and drop offs. The park also features a pump track onsite for anyone looking for a fun, speedy workout on rolling mounds of dirt.

5. Oak Mountain State Park, 60 Miles from Downtown

Oak Mountain State Park
Oak Mountain State Park Kelly Verdeck

Though further away than other destinations, Oak Mountain State Park’s nearly 10,000 acres are well worth the extra driving. It’s the largest state park in Alabama, and offers plenty of room to mountain bike, hike, run, swim, boat, horseback ride, paddle board or golf.

Because it sits atop the twin ridges of Double Oak Mountain, the park features sweeping views of the Birmingham metropolitan area as well as some of the best hiking and biking trails in the state.

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