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16 spring outdoor activities to try in Alabama

woman sitting in a field of flowers at Hubert Family Farms Spring in Alabama brings brightly colored flowers at Hubert Family Farms. | Photo courtesy Hubert Family Farms

With its warmer temps and longer days, spring rolls in every March like a breath of fresh air waking us from winter hibernation. From mountaintop paddles to secluded canyon camping—and everything in between—these 16 activities are the best ways to explore Alabama’s amazing outdoors.

1. Check into a chalet

Lake Guntersville

Recharge and take in the expansive views at one of Lake Guntersville State Park’s chalets. | Photo by Mariah/stock.adobe.com

The chalets at Lake Guntersville State Park have always afforded gorgeous views of Alabama’s largest lake and its surrounding outdoor splendor. Now the interior views are just as picturesque, thanks to the mountaintop hideaway's first face-lift in 2 decades. Expect rustic sophistication, wraparound porches, and total relaxation.

2. Cast a line

Go Fish, Alabama!

Looking to up your fishing game? Look no further. Go Fish, Alabama! offers workshops to help anglers improve their casting, catching, and more. | Photo by Billy Pope/OutdoorAlabama.com

Everyone knows there are plenty of fish in the sea; it’s getting them out that’s the tricky part. Novice anglers get expert instruction on choosing reels and lures, casting, knot tying, and cleaning catch through the new, state-run Go Fish, Alabama! program for adults and families. Bait and gear are provided; just bring a cooler, a fishing license, and some beginner’s luck. For the workshop schedule and locations, go to outdooralabama.com.

3. Branch out in art

Huntsville Botanical Garden

Stickwork at the Huntsville Botanical Garden is the ultimate photo backdrop. | Photo by Juan Villa

Immerse yourself in a one-of-a-kind outdoor art installation at the Huntsville Botanical Gardenwhere Stickwork debuts March 4. Renowned artist Patrick Dougherty uses locally sourced sweetgum branches to create a structure of nests, columns, and archways that invites visitors to roam the whimsical twists and turns on the garden grounds.

4. Kayak a canyon

Alabama Little River

A plunge in Alabama’s Little River is a refreshing way to cool off on a warm day. | Photo by Betty Blahna/EyeEm/stock.adobe.com

The rain-fed Little River that flows through the Little River Canyon National Preserve is at its best late spring and into summer, when water is usually high enough to carry kayakers through the forested uplands atop Lookout Mountain. Beginners and intermediate paddlers should opt for the miles-long stretch well before Little River Falls, after which the waters become decidedly expert-only. Visit the website for safety and access information before going.

5. Get into the woods

Red Mountain Park

Activities such as hiking and biking await at Red Mountain Park. | Photo by Jeff Newman

At Birmingham’s Red Mountain Park, 1,500 wooded acres prove that getting outdoors doesn’t have to mean getting out of town. Trek along 15 miles of hiking and biking trails to find 3 popular tree houses with epic views, 2 of them with swinging bridges.

6. Harness flower power

Mobile Alabama Festival of Flowers

Picturesque blooms bud all around at Mobile’s Festival of Flowers. | Photo by Dennis Tardo/Modernhemingway.com

The spring air smells even sweeter during Mobile’s annual Festival of Flowers, a charity competition where teams of artists, florists, nurseries, and designers construct life-size sculptures from living plants. Tour the Land, Air, and Sea–themed works in Cathedral Square, stay for the exotic car show, and wander the galleries of downtown’s artsy LoDa district. The 2022 festival takes place March 11–13.

7. Camp in a primeval canyon

Dismals Canyon

Keep an eye out for dismalites while camping at Dismals Canyon. | Photo courtesy Dismals Canyon

Sleep under the stars in a primeval canyon that doubles as a National Natural Landmark. The handful of secluded, primitive campsites at Dismals Canyon open in early March, weather permitting, giving guests prime access to the site’s namesake attractions: bioluminescent glow worms known as dismalites. Don’t miss the grotto and the massive Eastern Canadian hemlock that hitched its way to Alabama on a glacier.

Read more: Alabama’s 7 natural wonders: How many have you seen?

8. Go on a mushroom hunt

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are aplenty during springtime in central Alabama. | Photo by GDM photo and video/stock.adobe.com

The hunt is on for wood ear, witch’s butter, and the gastronomically prized morel. Throughout central Alabama, spring’s warmer weather and plentiful rainfall bring out these and more flavorful fungi. Experts at the Alabama Mushroom Society guide forays in DeKalb, Cullman, Jefferson, and Elmore counties in search of mycological wonders.

9. Run with the pack

Birmingham Track Club

Get those steps in during training sessions with Birmingham Track Club. | Photo by Kelly vanDellen/Alamy Stock Photo

Get back on track with the community of runners behind the annual Vulcan Run 10K. The Birmingham Track Club not only hosts the November marquee event, but distributes a newsletter and organizes socials and other events to keep members motivated. Weekly long-run training sessions in and around Magic City welcome newbies and pros alike.

10. Tiptoe through the tulips

Hubert Farms

Pack a sack lunch, slather on sunscreen, and head out to Hubert Farms to see tulips in full-bloom. | Photo by Jessica Olsen

By late March, Hubert Farms 200,000 tulips are typically in full bloom, weather dependent. The family-run farm in the idyllic Tennessee Valley offers Insta-perfect spring scenery, pick-your-own opportunities, picnic tables, and food trucks on the weekends.

11. See a breathtaking waterfall

Peavine Falls

The 2-mile hike to Peavine Falls offers stunning views of the 65-foot waterfall. | Photo by James Matlock

If the hike up to Peavine Falls doesn’t leave you breathless, the stunning view of the 65-foot spring-fed cascade dropping into a picturesque pool will. Chasing waterfalls not your thing? Find plenty more opportunities to commune with nature along the surrounding Oak Mountain State Park’s hiking trails.

Read more: 3 epic waterfalls in Alabama worth a road trip.

12. Attend an outdoor art festival

Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival

Shop from local fine artists at the Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival. | Photo by Stephen Savage

Who needs a stuffy gallery? The streets in quaint downtown Fairhope overflow with fine art this month. The Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival, oft cited as among the best in the country, draws hundreds of creatives to the laid-back coastal town and celebrates its 70th anniversary March 18–20. Just down the street, the annual Outdoor Art Show, also March 18–20, marks its 50th birthday with about 100 artists, live demonstrations, kids activities, and more. 

13. Go mountain biking

Beaver Creek Forever Wild Trails

Feel the cool breeze on your face during a bike ride at Forever Wild Trails at Beaver Creek. | Photo courtesy City of Dothan, AL Department of Leisure Services

Log some air time on Dothan’s Forever Wild Trails at Beaver Creek. Four new, professionally built miles of mountain bike routes include the Big Levee feature and the Dragon’s Tail Trail, designed to give frequent flyers more options to play in the woods. New to the sport? The system’s 10-plus miles of loops linked by connectors offer newbie riders ample opportunity to hone their skills, too.

14. Try ax throwing, archery, and more

All Sports Expo

Try your hand at archery or ax throwing at All Sports Expo. | Photo by Aleksei Potov/stock.adobe.com

Why settle for 1 outdoor activity when you can try several? Archery, skeet shooting, ax throwing, casting, and cornhole—the second annual All Sports Expo organized by the Kiwanis Club of Andalusia lets guests try their hands at these and more during a family festival on March 12. (Don’t worry, parents. The chain saw sculpting and the monster truck show—separate ticket require—with off-road quad wars are strictly demo-only.)

15. Start pedaling

Eastern Shore Trail

A stroll along Mobile’s Eastern Shore Trail offers views of blooming buds. | Photo by Anja Hennern/stock.adobe.com

Let 2 wheels carry you along the east coast of Mobile Bay through a string of pretty, oak-framed communities to a nature reserve boasting some of the most diverse flowering plant life in North America. Along the Eastern Shore Trail in early spring, street cyclists can stop for lunch in Daphne, take in the view at Point Clear, and look for the pitcher plants just blossoming in Weeks Bay—all in 1 day.

16. Reach new heights

For those who take their outdoors on the rocks, Hospital Boulders near Gadsden features 39 acres with about 200 developed boulder problems and some of the best climbing in the state for all levels. Brave the overhanging roofs or scramble up 50-foot sandstone boulders. Don’t forget your gear, a picnic, and to get the entry code in advance.

You’ll find travel pro and guide author Jessica Fender camping, hiking, or flower picking, but not mountain biking, which she leaves for the brave. Follow her adventures throughout the South and beyond at travelerbroads.com.

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AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

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