7 Ways to Spend a Summer Day in Tuscaloosa

An early morning paddle down the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa
An early morning paddle down the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa Ted Major
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For those who don't know it, there’s nothing quite like spending a sunny day in Tuscaloosa. This moderate-sized city and famous college town on the banks of the Black Warrior River offers a surprisingly extensive amount of outdoor excursions for enthusiasts of all kinds—from hikers to bikers, to runners, to paddlers, to everyone in between. Here, we check out 7 adventures in the Tuscaloosa area worth checking out now that the warmer weather has well and truly set in.

1. Go for a run on The University of Alabama Quad

The President's Mansion on The University of Alabama Quad
The President's Mansion on The University of Alabama Quad Stephanie Kirkland

Especially on sunny days, one of the most beloved places in Tuscaloosa is The University of Alabama Quad, which features an expansive, 22-acre green space surrounded by some of the university’s most appealing architecture. The perimeter sidewalk is two-thirds of a mile around, making it ideal for leisurely runs. The Quad’s open-air east side is also great for pickup games of Frisbee, football, and soccer.

2. Mountain bike at Munny Sokol Park

Mountain biking trail at Munny Sokol Park
Mountain biking trail at Munny Sokol Park West Alabama Mountain Biking Association

Munny Sokol Park , one of the best hidden gems in Tuscaloosa, features more than 11 miles of multi-use trails that offer a range of biking experiences for riders of all skill levels. Winding through 325 acres of green space and forest, Munny Sokol can be enjoyed in as little as 30 minutes, or you can tackle the entire park in about two hours. Trails include both short, technical rides and more challenging climbs with speedy descents. Don’t have a bike? Don’t worry, as you can  rent one for about $30.

3. Take a stroll along the Riverwalk

Tuscaloosa Riverwalk
Tuscaloosa Riverwalk Stephanie Kirkland

The Riverwalk hugs West Alabama’s largest river—the Black Warrior—for four miles and features year-round some of the best scenic views in Tuscaloosa. Shaded, paved, and largely flat with a few short hills, it’s especially great for comfortable outdoor walks and runs. If you visit around lunch, be sure to bring a blanket for a picnic at Manderson Landing on the park’s east side.

4. Cool off in Hurricane Creek

View of Hurricane Creek from Hurricane Creek Park
View of Hurricane Creek from Hurricane Creek Park Tyler Barnes

Hurricane Creek and its adjacent park are perfect for hikers and bikers wishing to be outdoors in summer, as you can easily cool off before or after your workout by going for a swim (or paddle ) in the creek. As the southernmost stream in the Appalachians, the banks of Hurricane Creek are also stunning, providing glimpses of limestone, sandstone, and shale.

5. Hike amongst the foliage of The University of Alabama Arboretum

The University of Alabama Arboretum
The University of Alabama Arboretum Stephanie Kirkland

Located just six miles east of downtown, The University of Alabama Arboretum is Tuscaloosa’s premier destination for hikers looking for a lush walk in the woods. Meandering trails wind through nearly 60 acres of protected forest, providing hikers with a broad range of floral views that include oaks, azaleas, wildflowers, dogwoods, sycamores, magnolias, and more.

6. Walk your dog at Harry Pritchett Running Park

Harry Prtichett Running Park
Harry Prtichett Running Park Stephanie Kirkland

Better known to locals as the former University Golf Course, Harry Pritchett Running Park is dog- and runner-friendly. Though officially used as a training and competition course for UA’s cross-country team, local runners take advantage of the park’s rolling hills and mix of grassy and paved pathways, which wind throughout the former fairways of the golf course.

7. Pitch a Tent at Lake Lurleen State Park

Lake Lurleen at Lake Lurleen State Park
Lake Lurleen at Lake Lurleen State Park Tyler Barnes

With 91 campsites that include picnic tables, charcoal grills, and views of the lake, Lake Lurleen State Park is the perfect place to end your day and camp under the stars. Whether you've spent your time paddling on the 250-acre lake or exploring the 23 miles of multi-use trails, there's nothing better than unwinding at a beachside campsite with a few adult beverages, good food, and good company.

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