We hiked Tuscaloosa, Alabama in twenty-four hours covering 10 miles that included Hurricane Creek Park and Lake Lurleen State Park. In this article, we will give you a rundown on some of the best T-town hiking spots with amazing views – whether it’s for exercise or just sightseeing!
Delightfully, Tuscaloosa has access to many miles of low-key hikes that still bring the views! Many are only minutes from downtown, so once your feet hit dirt or pavement it’s an easy day trip. Follow us on Instagram at @TrailTherapyAL for more female-led outdoor adventures.
24 Hours Chasing the Tuscaloosa Sun
Hours: 1 through 3
It wasn’t long into our trip till we realized there are over 50 miles of hiking trails in Tuscaloosa, thanks to this AllTrails app data.
We started our stay with the Sipsey River Swamp when we were reminded that adventuring outdoors is always a challenge because you typically don’t know what you’re getting into until it happens!
For that reason we always take precautions and go prepared for anything: from YIKES (not-so enjoyable) to OH MY GOODNESS NOW WE’RE TALKING!
A few moments into the hike we faced those first challenges on our adventure through Forever Wild Land – when the Yikes side began weighing heavier than others – with every step.
But, if we were aware of the following few tips, the initial experience may have been a much more pleasing one.
Forever Wild land is open to the public and typically used for hunting from October 15th through May 8th. During that season, which hunters pay a license fee to hunt the land, we highly suggest that outdoor rec folks wear bright colors and visit later in the day.
Typically the paths are heavily used by off-road vehicles which means there could be a lot of mud and deep holes to navigate – avoid getting splashed by!
The very slight change in terrain elevation makes this location good for trail running, mountain biking, an easy walk, or horseback riding.
Four times during the year this location has an “open woods week” which allows the public to drive into the tract along the main gravel road leading from the Jack’s Drive Parking Area, to the South Gate. See map.
Canoeing, birding, fishing, picnicking and photography are welcome, but hiking, bicycling and horseback riding are discouraged because of vehicular traffic that will be present on these dates.
24 Hours Chasing the Tuscaloosa Sun
Hours 4 – 16
We tent camped at Lake Lurleen State Park, which required a reservation at least two week’s in advance to snag a spot during an Alabama game-day weekend. Go BAMA!
With one eye on the weather and another on the massive swim beach that was walking distance from our camp site, we set out to secure our tent and sleep gear before hitting a track of the twenty-three available hiking miles.
7 minutes later, we hit the rim trail by cutting up the mountain behind the campground, near the bathrooms, to enjoy a well warn path that flanked the lake.
Noticing we were on the heels of sunset, we cut our hike short and decided to paddle board the length of the lake.
At the peak of sunset, we didn’t quite make it as far as we hoped. Most of the time was spent laying in the middle of the waterway, watching the sun go down behind the ridgeline. I mean, wouldn’t you?!?!? Just look at this view!
“Everyone wants to live on top
of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs
while you are climbing it.”
Turns out, it was the perfect time to camp. Just a few days into fall, the heat had already begun leaving the air and a soft chill soon arrived as sun went down. Perfect fire starting weather! Close to the bathroom, friendly neighbors, a view of the lake and void of any nefarious elements made it east to turn in to catch and early morning sunrise. Below, you can see a glimpse at our campsite as the sun came up.
Hours: 17 through 19
Typically wood hikers, we weren’t sure what to expect when adding Tuscaloosa’s famous urban Riverwalk to our lineup. But boy were we delightfully surprised in so many unexpected ways!
The first thing that struck us was just how much this town has a European vibe about it – from its architecture to the people. Most seemed quite comfortable with the outdoor life, instead of being confined indoors like many Americans tend to live.
The vibe instantly endeared us to this unique city. It has such a different feel than other towns we’ve visited, as if walking down cobblestone streets with old bridges around every corner, accompanied by the sound of jolly chatter coming from local restaurants. It just feels so, Europe!
Curious about what else makes this favorite walkway so special? Here are a few more highlights that really got our attention!
- Signs on the trail for public bathrooms
- Emergency call stations
- Trail portions that felt as though you were deep in the woods
- Trails wide enough for multi use, accommodating any outdoor visitor
- Plenty of options to stop for food, drink or information along the way
If you are visiting Tuscaloosa, for any reason. The Riverwalk is a MUST experience among your Alabama travels.
We recommend starting with brunch at Heritage House. There are two locations, with one that is housed on the amphitheater end of the Riverwalk – 2370 Jack Warner Pkwy. It’s got a great vibe of hustle and bustle and delicious food to help fuel you as you start your day outdoors.
Between eating and walking – the whole experience took two hours, leaving plenty of time to explore our next stop – Tuscaloosa’s Hurricane Creek Park.
Hurricane Creek Park
Hours 20 – 24
It’s always a hikers dream come true when you get the chance to check out an outdoor location that exceeds all your expectations!
For us, on this trip – Hurricane Creek Park – was a delightful surprise!
Starting with a calm and clean waterway, it’s easy to see why this quick-to-access spot makes such a great swimming hole during warmer months!
After spending about thirty minutes playing around in the water and taking in initial sites, we hit the trails to see what we could find.
After hiking about one mile of the rim trail, that we got on at the right of the swim hole, we found ourselves deep in the woods on top of a mountain. There we decided to follow the trail until we came back to Hurricane Creek on the opposite end of the park.
We hiked a total of five miles and at the half-way point we discovered remote water access that offered an outdoor respite unlike many others.
Clear, swimmable water, void of any other humans – besides us – we laid on a small sandy beach to enjoy the warm sun and listen to the sounds of nature. While exploring the water, we even encountered a fish that was unphased and even curious by our presence.
When you imaging being in nature, these are the exact expectations we encountered at Hurricane Creek Park. Making this stop the perfect finale to such a great 24 hours spent outdoors, in Tuscaloosa.
To extend your trip or try a few other spots, there are alternative outdoor hiking favorites to try as well:
- Lake Harris Dam Trail
- Munny Sokol Park Trail
- Lake Nicol Outer Cliff Trail
- Van DeGraaff Park Short Trail
- Black Warrior River Loop
In conclusion, we were delightfully pleased with Tuscaloosa’s outdoor offerings and look forward to getting the chance to once again visit this adorable river town!
“Hey girl, don’t get lost on the trails find yourself! Here you’ll discover more than the destination! It’s all about the journey at #TrailTherapy”