Pinnable collage of images from hiking trails near Birmingham, AL

17 Best Hiking Trails Birmingham AL (2023)

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Alabama swept us off our feet. The state’s wooded hills and beautiful streams are much like our native Oregon, but full of a wonder and heritage of their own. We were fortunate to experience three of the best hiking trails in Birmingham, AL.

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A beautiful view of downtown Birmingham from up on Ruffner Mountain. Ruffner Mountain is a great place to find hiking trails in Birmingham AL.
Ruffner Mountain yields fantastic views of the Birmingham area. Image by Kelly Verdeck.

In this post we’ll provide our personal review of three great hikes in the Birmingham area. We’ll also guide you through a list of the best hiking trails in and around Birmingham AL. This list was put together with roadtripping families in mind, and includes a variety of settings, lengths, and levels of difficulty.

Image by Kelly Verdeck.

#1: Moss Rock Nature Preserve, Boulder Field

Location: Hoover, Level: Easy

A natural arch forms in one of Moss Rock's enormous boulders. Moss Rock's Boulder Field is one of the 17 best hiking trails in Birmingham AL.
Moss Rock Preserve’s Boulder Field is one of the best hiking trails in Birmingham AL.

Moss Rock was a dream come true. We’d been itching for some Southern Appalachia adventure ever since we’d entered Tennessee. So we were ecstatic when our hosts brought us to this local secret.

Moss Rock Preserve is right out of a Mark Twain novel. The forested park is filled with enormous, fern-covered  boulders and crags. The children loved scrambling up the rock formations and exploring hidden caves and clefts.

A woman walks through an tall, narrow cleft between two gargantuan boulders at Moss Rock Preserve.
Moss Rock’s Boulder Field is a natural playground.

The large rocks cover the preserve, with boulders and crags only yards or even feet from one another. This forested maze is a perfect place for pretend or hide and seek. The gentle slope makes for easy walking and the trees and caves provide summer time shade.

And there’s a creek with a waterfall! We were already enchanted, but the discovery of Hurricane Branch and Moss Rock Waterfalls really topped the cake. We spent nearly an hour splashing, exploring, and riding the falls. 

@dinkumtribe Enjoyed the cool water and climbing the boulders at Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover, Alabama last summer. #familytravelblogger #familytravelcreator #familytraveltiktoker #familytravelideas #familytravelvlog #familytravelinfluencer #familytravelblog #adhdfamilies #adhdfamilylife #bigfamilies #largefamilymom #bigfamilytravel #outdoorfamily #outdoorfamilyfun #hikingwithkids #hikingwithkids⛰ #hikingwithfriends #boulderfield #playinginthecreek #1000hoursoutsidechallenge #alabamahiking #alabamacreeks ♬ Sunroof – Nicky Youre & dazy

Clean and Convenient!

Moss Rock Nature Preserve is located in the southern part of the Birmingham metro area. The preserve is surrounded by development and I was saddened to see a little graffiti on one of the boulders as we entered the Preserve.

But the sights and sounds of nature quickly surrounded us once we’d entered the park. Alabama’s wooded hills absorb the traffic noise, making it easy to forget that you’re in an urban area. The preserve was clean and undeveloped.

Two children scramble up into a small cave at Moss Rock Nature Preserve.
This is what childhood is all about!

Lunch was the only thing that could lure us away from Moss Rock Preserve. Moss Rock is super easy to access. A short trail from the parking lot leads right to the fantastic boulders and the delights that follow.

Moss Rock Preserve is a great place for a family hike. The woodland setting is adventurous and truly natural. Yet the park is easy to access and only a short distance from eateries and other amenities. Read our daughter’s in-depth review of Moss Rock.

#2: Red Mountain Park

Location: Birmingham, Level: Various

A historic cement mine entryway says "NO-13 1873-1933". Red Mountain Park's historic trails are some of the 17 best hiking trails Birmingham AL.
Red Mountain was a key source of Birmingham’s mineral wealth.

We were equally impressed with Red Mountain Park. This enormous park occupies a historic mountain ridge of southwest Birmingham and offers a wide selection of trails, outdoor activities, and venues. Red Mountain features a wide range of ways to get active and learn about Alabama’s natural and human history.

Rich Alabama Red

The color red is a big deal in Alabama! You see it everywhere, from signs, to clothing, to the soil beneath your feet. Red Mountain gives the background to this phenomenon.

A large, flat path cuts through Red Mountains thick forests. The Eureka Trail is one of the 17 best hiking trails Birmingham AL.
The Eureka Mines Trail at Red Mountain Park.

Rich iron deposits are the “why” behind the red. Red Mountain’s iron ore put Birmingham on the map as a chief supplier of iron and steel in the United States. The mines of Red Mountain fed America’s Industrial Revolution for over a century.

Eureka Mines Trail: Moderate

We enjoyed an afternoon walk on Red Mountain’s Eureka Mines Trail. The wide, wooded trail brought us past beautiful forested slopes and overgrown tills before bringing us to the Eureka Mine shafts. Fences and signs allowed us to see the old mines without putting ourselves in any danger.

My son walks along the entrance of the No-13 Mine at Red Mountain. A large yellow fence keeps him away from unseen mine hazards on the hillside.
Our children loved poking around the old mine sites at Red Mountain Park.

Red Mountain has a lot more than old mining sites. The park may be better known for its three fantastic tree houses, its outdoor classrooms, and Remy’s Dog Park. You can even enjoy an audio tour of Red Mountain via TravelStorys!

Butler Snow Sensory Trail: Easy

Red Mountain Park has a trail designed for children and adults with developmental differences. The Butler Snow Sensory Trail offers fourteen sensory exhibits with access to anyone who wants to experience and explore the outdoors.

#3: Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

Location: Birmingham, Level: Easy

A flat, cement pathway leads through the maze of enormous pipes and machinery found at the Sloss Furnaces. Sloss Furnaces is one of the 17 best hiking trails Birmingham AL.
Sloss Furnaces is a must-see for every road-tripping family.

Sloss Furnaces is another place where activity and learning go hand-in-hand. The massive industrial complex excites curiosity and invites exploration. Flat pathways and occasional stairs make for an easy hike through an extraordinary setting.

Sloss Furnaces is a fantastic educational stop. In this one place, you can learn about the process of steel production, the story of Birmingham’s Steel Industry, and the racial injustice that was behind it all. 

A woman walks up a stairway that leads up to an enormous furnace. Educational value makes the Sloss Furnaces one of the 17 best hiking trails Birmingham AL.

We had the opportunity to tour Red Mountain before going to the Sloss Furnaces. So in two hikes we traced the iron from raw material to finished product! Read more about Sloss Furnaces at our review of the 9+ Best National Parks in Alabama.

@dinkumtribe Learning at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Birmingham, Alabama. @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #truehistory #historiclandmark #historiclandmarks #blackhistorytiktok #ushistoryfacts #homeschoolfieldtrip #homeschoolfieldtrips #familyroadtrips #familyroadtrip2021 #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #familytraveltiktoker #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog #familytravelblog #familytravelblogger #familytravelvlogger #familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids ♬ original sound – DinkumTribe ADHD family travel

Hiking Trails Near Birmingham, AL

Birmingham’s metropolitan area is full of good trails. Here are six nearby hikes that are known and appreciated.

Beautiful view overlooking the Birmingham Metro area.
A view of Birmingham from Ruffner Mountain. Image by Kelly Verdeck.

Vulcan Trail

Location: Birmingham, Level: Easy

This well paved trail guides you to the world’s largest cast-iron statue and scenic views of downtown Birmingham. The enormous monument is another testament to the role that steel had in building Birmingham. At 4 miles there and back, this trail is another easy way to choose activity and education.

An enormous cast-iron statue of Vulcan towers above Birminghams Vulcan Trail. The Vulcan Trail is one of the 17 best hiking trails in Birmingham AL.
Vulcan Park, Birmingham. Image by Kelly Verdeck.

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve

Location: Birmingham, Level: Various

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve occupies a substantial mountain ridge in the eastern part of Metro Birmingham. The preserve includes a nature center, historic mining sites, and renowned overlooks. Keep in mind that parking is limited and that there’s a $5 parking fee for nonmembers.

Beautiful fall colors contrast agains gray rocks at Ruffner Mountain's Quarry Trail.
Check out Ruffner’s Quarry Trail for great views of Birmingham and beautiful fall colors. Image by Kelly Verdeck.

Railroad Park

Location: Birmingham, Level: Easy

Downtown Birmingham towers above the cool, inviting green space known as Railroad Park.
Railroad Park is right in the heart of downtown Birmingham. Image by Nicholas Henderson.

Railroad Park is the premier urban green space of downtown Birmingham. 

Natural and industrial meet together at this sleek park. Wall and seating areas are built out of items and materials that were unearthed on-site, allowing you to touch artifacts from Birmingham’s past.

The Rail Trail path is specifically designed for runner and walkers. Railroad Park’s 3/4 mile outer loop provides another option for exercise. Be sure to also check out the Rainbow LED Tunnel near the park’s northwest corner.

Pink roses lend their beauty to Railroad Park.
Railroad Park is one of Birmingham’s best city parks. Image by Nicholas Henderson.

Jamison Park Nature Trail

Location: Birmingham, Level: Easy

Enjoy a hike among shady groves, quiet waters, and country bridges. Jemison Park is a stretch of urban forest located in Southeast Birmingham. The paved path is 4.7 miles of woodland beauty, local art, and historic landmarks.

An owl peers out from his branch at Jemison Park.
Local wildlife isn’t hard to find at Jemison Park. Image by Ralph Daily.

Homewood Forest Preserve

Location: Homewood, Level: Moderate

Explore 65 acres of wildflowers, local wildlife, and old growth forest at Homewood Forest Preserve. QR codes are posted throughout the trail so that you can learn more about the native features of Central Alabama. You’ll find Homewood Forest Preserve in Homewood, beside Shades Creek and Samford University. 

A path leads though Jemison Park in Birmingham AL. Jemison is one of the 17 best hiking trails in Birmingham AL.
Image by Ralph Daily.

Homewood Shades Creek Greenway

Location: Homewood, Level: Easy

The Lakeshore Trail is a popular paved trail along the Homewood Shades Creek Greenway. You can wander over brook and meadow in this urban park corridor. At 5.1 miles round trip, the Greenway offers a great way to get outdoors with the family.

A mill and waterwheel stand across the creek from Jemison Park.
The Jemison Mill stands next to Jemison Park. Image by Wally Argus.

Hiking Trails in Central Alabama

Looking for something a little wilder? Check out these five Central Alabama locations.

Oak Mountain State Park

Location: Pelham, Level: Various

We couldn’t write this post without giving tribute to Alabama’s largest state park. Oak Mountain State Park’s 11,632 acres includes four lakes, over fifty miles of trails, waterfalls, a petting zoo and more. Here are two trails worth walking at Oak Mountain SP:

Stone steps lead up a woodland trail at Oak Mountain State Park. Oak Mountain SP is a great place to find hiking trails in Birmingham, AL.
Beautiful Oak Mountain State Park in the early autumn. Image by Kelly Verdeck.

Maggie’s Glen Loop: Easy

This 2.2 mile loop is a great place for a quiet walk through nature. The trail is well marked and level, making it ideal for families with young children. People enjoy the abundance of bird calls and running water at this well-known trail.

Treetop Nature Trail: Easy

This is the trail for bird watching! The 1.8 mile loop includes a boardwalk where you can meet some of Alabama’s birds up close. The trail is connected to the Alabama Wildlife Center, the state’s premier rehabilitation center. 

A tiny owl winks at you. This Screech Owl is one of many birds found at the Alabama Wildlife Center.
Peanut, the Screech Owl, at the Alabama Wildlife Center. Image by Ralph Daily.

Turkey Creek Nature Preserve

Location: Pinson, Level: Easy to Moderate

If you want to encounter nature, then this is the place for you. This preserve hold 466 acres of biodiversity. Six endangered species live in the Turkey Creek Preserve, allowing you the opportunity to see the unique beauty of natural Alabama. 

A mom and children play at the falls at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.
Turkey Creek is a popular spot for summer fun. Image by Rob Briscoe.

Five Mile Creek Greenway Trail

Location: Coalburg, Level: Easy

Get lost in Birmingham’s historic Coal Country. The Five Mile Creek Greenway connects Fultondale to Mt. Olive. This wide, crushed stone trail is ideal for bicycling, jogging, or a quiet stroll.

Cement and stone platforms are all that remain of a coal crushing site near the Five Mile Creek Trail.
Coal Country ruins beside historic Five Mile Creek. Image from WikiCommons.

Horse Creek Trail

Location: Dora, Level: Easy

Encounter true Southern beauty on this level, multi-use trail. This 5 mile walking trail is a perfect place to play “I spy” with the children. Spot deer, horses, cherry blossoms, and church steeples on this trek through rural Alabama.

A horse nibbles grass in a field. Tall trees stand in the background.
Image by Kelly Verdeck.

Pinhoti National Recreation Trail

Location: Northeast Alabama, Level: Moderate

The Pinhoti Trail is a 325 mile path through the Southern Appalachian Mountains. This epic trek begins in Georgia’s Blue Ridge and ends on Flagg Mountain near Weogufka. Pinhoti NRT is a great option if you’re looking for a genuine outdoors adventure.

A granite outcropping towers above the rolling, wooded hills of the Southern Appalachians. Pinhoti Trail is one of the 17 best hiking trails in Birmingham AL.
Appalachian glory in Eastern Alabama. Image from Wikicommons.

Bald Rock Boardwalk

Location: Cheaha State Park, Level: Easy

Bald Rock Boardwalk offers incredible views of Eastern Georgia. At 2,407 feet above sea level, you’ll be walking the Alabama’s highest mountain at Alabama’s oldest state park. This 0.6 mile walkway is the place to take in the beauty of the Southern Appalachian range. 

The picture shows a wide panorama of Alabama countryside. Bald Mountain Boardwalk is one of the best hiking trails near Birmingham AL.
You can almost touch the clouds at the Bald Rock Boardwalk. Image by Rob Briscoe.

17 Great Hiking Trails Birmingham AL:

There’s no lack of family-friendly hiking trails in Birmingham AL. Do you know a great trail that we missed? Please let us know in the comments. Happy traveling!

© Copyright Brian A. Warren 2022

Pinnable collage of images from hiking trails near Birmingham, AL
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Pinnable collage of images from hiking trails near Birmingham, AL
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About the author

Brian Warren is a native of California and has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and several other countries. He's husband to Jennifer, Dad of six children, and taught middle school history for several years. His special interests include craft beers, the American Old West, and geology. Brian is also an online marketing specialist and cofounder of Dinkum Tribe, a website dedicated to healthy, happy families. Feel free to send Brian a message at [email protected].


  1. It’s great that there are so many trails to choose from around Birmingham! I think I would want to start with the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve, but definitely try a couple. Thanks for sharing!

  2. We were planning a trip to Birmingham a couple years back that ultimately ended up getting canceled, but I distinctly remember having trouble finding a list of hiking trails in this area. This will be perfect if we ever try to plan a trip here again, so thank you for putting this together! Great photos too, by the way 😊. Xx Sara

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