Just because the air is getting chillier these days does not mean you cannot remain an outdoors enthusiast — frankly, winter time is often the best time to get outdoors in Alabama — and there are some great places to get outside and take winter hikes, especially in North Alabama.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Blevins Gap Preserve
Managed by the Land Trust of North Alabama, Blevins Gap Preserve has 8.5 miles of hiking trails and some absolutely beautiful scenery. You would never guess that you are right here in the city!
The preserve is divided into two sections with trails to the north and south of Cecil Ashburn Drive. The main Blevins Gap Trailhead provides access to around 8 miles of woodland hiking trails on the 727 acre portion south of Cecil Ashburn and features Huntsville’s best spot to enjoy spectacular valley views during your winter hikes.
Monte Sano Nature Preserve
Monte Sano Nature Preserve is one of the largest urban land preserves in the United States. Only two miles from Downtown Huntsville, this 1,100+ acre natural escape features more than 25 miles of free public trails for hiking, biking and outdoor recreation.
Bethel Spring Nature Preserve
Bethel Spring Nature Preserve is a 360-acre property on Keel Mountain in Gurley, with 200 acres open for outdoor recreation.
The preserve currently offers hikers approximately two miles of free trails to explore from dawn to dusk, including upland forest, working farmland, historic sites, an environmentally-significant spring and creek and one of Madison County’s largest waterfalls.
The trail head begins at 2641 Cherry Tree Road, Gurley, AL 35748. This is a short but gorgeous winter hike.
Located in the City of Madison off of Hughes Road, Rainbow Mountain Preserve offers about three miles of trail, featuring some difficult but beautiful climbs thanks to the rocky terrain.
Known for its rock formations (“Balance Rock” is a particular favorite), the trails might be steep but the views are fabulous. And it is perfect for winter hikes, because when the trees are bare you can see views of Madison below.
Wade Mountain Preserve
With more than 12 miles of trails for hiking, biking or horseback riding, Wade Mountain Nature Preserve is a 935-acre preserve located in North Huntsville.
The trail system can be accessed directly from Spragins Hollow Trailhead or take a short stroll down Wade Mountain Greenway to access the hiking trails from Pulaski Pike Trailhead. A pavilion provides a shady spot to gather along the Greenway.