Autumn is a season of bonfires and warm thermos drinks. It is also the perfect time to explore central Alabama, set up camp, and sleep outside. And Birmingham residents are lucky enough to have plenty of places to do so within a 20-minute drive in any direction. Getting off the beaten path, camping underneath the stars, or simply building a fire for the evening is an excellent way to welcome the fall, and in the Birmingham area, doing so is as easy as pumpkin pie.
1. Moundville Archeological Park
A haunted house may not be a place to take your youngest kids this Halloween, but taking them to an ancient Native American city is something they will thoroughly enjoy. Moundville Archeological Park is one of the most historic sites in Alabama, and is home to a small museum, nature trails, and even a campground. The park is open from 9 a.m. to dusk, and campers must call ahead to reserve a spot. Spending the night is an option, but as it’s located only about an hour away, a day trip is easily doable. And only twenty minutes away, in Greensboro, is the Pie Lab , which is a must for lunch or dinner.
2. Walls of Jericho
If you and your family are interested in a more remote adventure, the Walls of Jericho is a breathtaking destination full of caves, canyons, and rock amphitheaters. Though the hiking at this destination is pretty difficult, the secluded trails, fascinating water and rock formations, and scenic landscape more than make up for the difficulty. Pack in all your camping supplies and enjoy an unforgettable backpacking trip in a truly magical part of Alabama.
All over the world Geocachers stash items with specific GPS coordinates in given locations, and Birmingham and Alabama have a ton of Geocaches spread out, just waiting to be found. The only thing you need to join this increasingly popular and fun outdoor activity is a GPS device. It is very much like a big scavenger hunt, which can take all day or all weekend, depending on how many treasure troves you want to find. Just go to the geocaching website and pick an item to hunt, and be prepared to land in some pretty unique hiking and camping locations.
4. Pinhoti Trail
The Pinhoti Trail is located in the Talladega National Forest, about 88 miles from downtown Birmingham. While an adventure here is not for the faint of heart, the hiking and camping here is as serene as it gets, and the bragging rights you’ll have over your office mates on Monday morning will make it worthwhile. Not to mention, the mountains and forests this trail cuts through are absolutely gorgeous, especially at this time of year when the trees are exploding with color. Anyone who is even slightly interested in backpacking simply has to trek this trail on a long fall weekend.
5. Hammock at Moss Rock Preserve
Sometimes finding a peaceful place to relax can be an excursion in itself, but at Moss Rock Preserve you can easily venture away from the bustle of the city and find two perfectly spaced-out and secluded trees to hang a hammock. Only 12 miles from downtown, Moss Rock is a great getaway that’s not far away, perfect for drifting away in a hammock with a good book in hand.
6. Lake Guntersville State Park
Even though your camping adventure might actually turn into staying at a hotel and playing golf, a visit to this state park definitely still qualifies as a worthy excursion. Lake Guntersville has a long list of fun things to do, ranging from fishing, boating and paddling, to hiking and cliff jumping, and yes, even golf. For lodging, this state park offers tent camping, RV sites, cabins, and even a hotel, so if you’re looking for an exciting and relaxing adventure all in one weekend, this is the spot for you.