With summer upon us, getting outside is important for both the mind and body - no matter your age! And what better way to enjoy all of the natural beauty that Birmingham has to offer than with a family hike? Make sure to pack sunscreen, bug spray, and lots of water to hydrate as you take the family for a hiking adventure around the Magic City. Here’s a list of five perfect trails to hike with your kids and pets (or even a solo trek!) around the Birmingham area.
Vulcan trail is perfect for a quick getaway that still feels distant from the busy streets of Birmingham! The trail is shortly over two miles in length and has a round-trip layout making it perfect for the family who wants a short and easy walk in nature. The partially-paved walkway traces the route of a former train line along the ridge of Red Mountain just below the 10-acre Vulcan Park - home of the Vulcan statue! Along the way, hikers can see amazing views of the city’s skyline while also catching sight of the city’s most notable landmarks. This trail is perfect for new hikers, pet walkers, and family exercising.
Boulder Gorge Trail, Moss Rock Preserve
The 350-acres of Moss Rock Preserve is home to all kinds of natural beauty just waiting to be explored! From natural rock cutouts, running streams that vary in depth, and six rare species of plants to be admired by hikers, Moss Rock offers views which will bring peace and relaxation to any busy mind. The roughly two-mile Boulder Gorge Loop makes an ideal introduction to hiking for family members of all ages! This trail varies in elevation, creating an exciting climb for family members with four paws - just make sure to have your furry friend on a close leash and to watch their steps when possible! Boulder Gorge Loop consists of different-sized trails, which creates easy hikes for those looking for a quick expedition, or multiple paths for those who wish to stay in the natural environment for quite some time.
Treetop Nature Trail, Oak Mountain State Park
Cut out within Oak Mountain State Park, Treetop Natural Trail isn’t the only hike/activity offered for the family at this location! However, this 1.7-mile trail is placed on a mostly flat layout and passes six enclosures which house birds of prey in settings designed to mimic their natural habitats. The owls, vultures, and hawks which inhabit these enclosures have all fallen victim to injury or disability which has prevented them from returning to the wild. The Alabama Wildlife Center takes care of these natural predators of the sky, and if you embark on your hike around noon you can catch the birds during their scheduled feeding times, creating an exciting show for younger family members and adults alike!
Ruffner Mountain is a premier hiking destination which offers options for both the new trail conquerors and the experienced mountain hikers. With 14 miles of hiking trails and beautiful natural scenery, this preserve spans over 1,000 acres within the Birmingham area. The trails cut within this mountain were placed by miners who were searching for iron ore between the late 1800s and the mid-1950s. Although there are remnants of these mining expeditions, such as mines and caves, throughout the trails, they should not be explored as it is deemed unsafe and not permitted by the park. The trails range from easy strolls to moderate treks which cross throughout the mountain. One short path named “Overlook Trail” ends with a viewpoint above the quarry and offers one of the park’s best sunset viewings!
Turkey Creek Nature Preserve
This nature preserve holds around five miles of trails which run along the crystal clear running waters of Turkey Creek. Located around 17 miles from downtown, this is the perfect place to take a short family trip with children and pets for an hour or the whole day. A fun addition and learning experience that comes with this trail is the fact that there are three species of endangered fish which reside within Turkey Creek itself!
So pack a water bottle, sunscreen, maybe a picnic lunch, and for sure your phone/camera for all of the scenic photo ops. Get hiking, Birmingham!
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” - John Muir
Lead Image: @ruffnermountain