This Spring Break, you should go hiking because it can be easy and fun. If you like beautiful places you’re in luck. North Alabama is full of them. Keep reading to see my five favorite awesome hikes for beginners that are full of natural beauty. And if you decide to try hiking, click here for some helpful tips.
Great Hikes for Beginners in North Alabama
1. Covered Bridge and Sky Lake
Madison County: Green Mountain Nature Trail
This is the first hike I ever did where no one carried me and I walked by myself! This hike is good for beginners because it’s a short loop without steep climbs. You can do the 1.0 or 1.5 mile loop around Sky Lake, either way you start and end at the same place.
My favorite part is the covered bridge near the beginning if you go clockwise around the lake. When you get to the covered bridge, don’t miss looking through the windows. Sometimes you can see turtles and other wildlife in the lake. After the first footbridge, the trail splits. To hike the longer loop, you continue straight. For the shorter loop, turn right and cross another footbridge. As you get closer to the end, there will be a lot of break spots like a chapel if it is not being used, a dock, and the picnic tables. Soon you will be back where you started.
Yonder Girl’s Bonus Tip: Go back in the fall to see the colorful leaves. Don’t forget your camera!
2. Lacefield Falls and Cane Creek
Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve
This is a luxury hike with port-a-potties, water stations, creeks, cool rocks, and rare flowers! When you arrive, sign in at the gazebo, borrow a waterproof map, and pick up a Nature Hike Guide. If you’re lucky, Mr. or Mrs. Lacefield will be there to greet you. Bring water shoes, a towel, and a change of clothes if you plan to get wet.
While you are at Cane Creek, you can find little rounded pebbles of jasper, petrified wood, and other semi-precious stones. The rare wildflower, French’s shooting star, blooms in April through May. Start your hike across from the parking lot, head to the waterfall, and go to “The Point.” Go down the Steep Trail to the Boulder Garden Wildflower Area. After that go to Quarry Bridge, then head back to the parking lot on East Cane Creek Trail.
3. Balance Rock and Baby Balance Rock
Land Trust of North Alabama: Rainbow Mountain Nature Preserve
I like this hike because there is a balanced rock that is really cool. Even better for beginners, it’s close to the trailhead. Landmarks along the hike include a water tower, Balance Rock, a rock pile that looks like a broken table, and Baby Balance Rock. The rock pile is my favorite part because you can climb on top of lots of big rocks. One rock that I really like is the broken rock table because you can “slide down” and get some funny pictures.
The quickest way to get to Balance Rock from the trailhead is to walk down to the playground where there are three trails. Pick the trail on the right (Rainbow Mountain Loop Trail) and follow it for a very short distance to Balance Rock Trail. At the end of Balance Rock Trail, turn left on to Rainbow Mountain Loop, connect to High Pass Trail, return on Balance Rock Trail, and come back the way you started.
Yonder Girl’s Bonus Tip: If you like this hike and want to explore more awesome rocky places, check out Cherokee Rock Village.
4. Waterfalls of Fagan Creek
Land Trust of North Alabama: Monte Sano Nature Preserve
One of my favorite creek hikes is to the waterfalls of Fagan Creek at the intersection of Old Railroad Bed and Alms House Trails. My favorite spot is a flat rock surrounded by water. I like it because it’s fun to play on it. Just be careful, wet rocks can be slippery. The best time to go is a day or two after it rains really hard, so Fagan Creek will have water flowing in it.
You can hike many different trails to get there, but the easiest way is if you park in the Bankhead trailhead parking lot, take Alms House Trail to Old Railroad Bed Trail, and close the loop with Toll Gate Trail.
5. Cypress Swamp
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge
This place is special because it has a cypress swamp that is easy to access. What’s so cool about it? The cypress swamp sometimes has rainbow puddles. These puddles are made of oil floating on the surface of the water. Don’t worry. The oil is natural. It comes from decomposed organic matter, which is a fancy way of saying rotting plants, animals, and poop. Don’t walk through the swampy water; instead use the boardwalk that leads to a wooded area.
Yonder Girl’s Bonus Tip: Come back in early January to see 20,000 Sandhill cranes that migrated from Canada and Alaska. You can see the cranes best at the end of Wildlife Observation Trail in the Observation Building. That’s an easy and short hike too.
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