Moss Rock Preserve is a popular destination for hikers, runners, and climbers, but hiking is perhaps the best way to soak up the park’s beauty. At the park’s most-used entrance at Boulder Field, two-story boulders quickly give way to a downward sloping hill that ends at Hurricane Creek, a stunning and rocky stream that runs the length of the park. Nearly 12 miles of hiking trails, all connected except for a few cases of washed-out bridges on the east side, wind through the park to form a loop.
Hikers have several trails to choose from and can spend anywhere from a few hours to an entire day exploring the park. The Red Trail is by far the easiest with mostly flat terrain and scenic views. The quickest way to access the Red Trail is by starting at the Sulphur Springs trailhead and heading south toward Patriotic Junction. For a more challenging hike, consider the White, Blue, Powerline, or Orange trails, which feature areas of steeper hills interspersed with flat terrain. The Blue, Green, and White trails run the length of the park, featuring sections of forest, views of Hurricane Creek, large boulders, and other scenic views. The Orange Trail, accessible from the Simmons Middle School trailhead on the east side of the park, is an out-and-back trail that ends at Top of the World, one of the park’s best scenic views. Maps of the trails are available online.
What Makes It Great
Moss Rock features a nice mix of different scenic views for a short amount of hiking. At the Boulder Field trailhead, an incredible cluster of boulders, Hurricane Creek, secluded wooded areas, a sandstone glade, and a breathtaking waterfall can all be found within a few minutes’ hike. (Follow signs for Upper Falls to get to the top of the waterfall and explore the sandstone glade.) The rest of the park is similarly diverse. Steeper climbs in the heart of the forest alternate with flatter areas running alongside Hurricane Creek, as do more secluded areas of boulders and high-point lookouts that provide glimpses of hills in the distance.
Who is Going to Love It
Hikers looking for a quick and shaded getaway without venturing too far away from the city. Moss Rock is less than five miles from the heart of one of Alabama’s largest suburbs, giving hikers a host of dining options for when the sun sets. The Boulder Field area is also a perfect destination for families looking for scenic views without much hiking, though anyone looking for a more secluded getaway can easily find one by moving further away from the trailheads.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Parking is free at all trailheads. The most-used trailhead is at Boulder Field, which sits midway through the preserve and has a large parking area off Preserve Parkway directly across from Preserve Village. The other two trailheads sit on the edges of the park. On the west side, the Sulphur Springs trailhead can be accessed by taking a left from Preserve Parkway onto Sulphur Springs Road. The Powerline Trail and Blue Trail are directly accessible from Sulphur Springs, and the White Trail and Patriotic Junction are nearby. To start on the east side of the park, take Preserve Parkway past Boulder Field, then take a left onto Patton Chapel Road. The Simmons Middle School Trailhead and parking area will be on your left by the tennis courts. The White Trail and Orange Trail are accessible from Simmons, though hikers wishing to cross the creek on this side of the park will have to do so old-style, stepping on rocks during times of low water. The park is open from sunrise to sunset. Pets are allowed on leashes.