Two-mile hikes are notorious for being just hard enough for a solid workout, but short enough for just about anyone to do them. North Alabama offers some incredible hikes around two miles long. Here are the best ones:
Bethel Springs is a North Alabama gem hidden in New Hope, AL just 20 minutes southeast of Huntsville. This property is owned and managed by Land Trust of North Alabama and the trails are well marked. This moderate hike has a significant elevation gain but leads you to 3 beautiful waterfalls. 2 of the 3 waterfalls are easy to find, but to see all three waterfalls, while facing towards the waterfall round the corner to the left to find the last hidden waterfall! This waterfall runs most of the year, but the best time to catch this waterfall is during the winter, spring, and early summer when the waterfall is full. Springtime has the added benefit of lovely wildflowers all over the trail. The property also offers a flat gravel walking trail next to the parking lot that’s suitable for all ages and most abilities.
Please note, this hike requires a free permit from SCCi. SCCi maintains dozens of caves in Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. Each cave is stunning and free to visit. Be careful when visiting ANY cave, but especially Stephen’s Gap. This cave has a large sinkhole as well as a steep decline to get into the cave. Always wear a helmet and carry 3 sources of light when entering a cave.
Stephen’s Gap is located north of Gurley, AL and is a moderate hike. Stephen’s Gap is one of the most “Instagrammable Spots” in North Alabama. On a sunny day, this cave has some amazing beams of light shining down into it. Most of the year you can find a small waterfall in the back of the cave that comes out of the wall and down into the sinkhole creating some of the most beautiful photos you can take in Alabama. I suggest going multiple times, seeing it different times of year. During summer is the best time to catch the amazing rays of light and during winter and spring is the best time to catch the amazing waterfall.
Lacefield Falls and the Point, Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve
Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve is located in Tuscumbia, AL. This property is privately owned by a family that spends their weekends allowing visitors to come visit their land and enjoy the beautiful nature on their property for free. There is around 15 miles of maintained trails on this property but hiking to Lacefield Falls and the Point is only around 2 miles. On this hike you’ll find the beautiful Lacefield Falls. If you are stable and able bodied, hiking to the bottom of the falls is a must. This short hike to the bottom of the waterfall takes you behind the first drop in one of the coolest 100 yds of hiking in North Alabama. You’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the waterfall, an adrenaline pumping hike, and cool water at the bottom. Also make a stop at The Point which offers a lovely view of the canyon and a place to rest. (Note: this preserve will be closed until September 2022 while the preserve changes ownership and creates a new entrance.)
DeSoto Falls is located in Mentone, AL. At 90 ft tall it is one of the tallest waterfalls in Alabama. There’s an option to see this waterfall from the top with paid parking, but the best views require a bit of hiking. There’s a dirt parking lot right next to the power line trail near the parking lot that has 2 hikes that provide a little over 2 miles hiking total. The hike on the left stays on top of the plateau and has an amazing view of the waterfall and the gorge from the ridge line. This hike is a fairly easy, 1-mile roundtrip hike. The hike to the right of the parking lot takes you down to the bottom of the waterfall where you are free to enjoy a view from the bottom of the falls and if it's warm enough, you can swim. This is a local’s dream swimming hole allowing plenty of places to sit in the sun and enjoy the cool water coming off the falls. The hike to the bottom of the falls is around 1.5 miles round trip and is a bit more difficult than hiking to the top. There are trail markers for hiking both to the top and bottom of the waterfall. This waterfall typically runs all year around and is worth visiting anytime of year.
Mize Mill and Turkey Foot Falls
Mize Mill and Turkey Foot Falls is one of the best 2-for-1 waterfalls stops in Bankhead National Forest located just north of Smith Lake. Bankhead feels like you are dropping down into a fairytale, but even more so when you get to Mize Mill Falls. This hike is an easy hike and starts off at the Bankhead Recreational Area and will take you down a stream and through the woods to Turkey Foot Falls. Turkey Foot Falls offers a beautiful waterfall, and if it has rained recently, you can find beautiful streams of water flowing over moss that shine in the sun giving the area a fairytale feeling. Continue downstream to Mize Mill Falls and you’ll find yourself dropping into another world. Mize Mills is in a narrow canyon that turns into a rock shelter over the stream and surrounds the waterfall. This canyon has an amazing light effect on the water and also offers moss covered rocks that gleam in the sun.
Hippie Hole, also known as Martha Falls, is located in Little River Canyon east of Fort Payne, AL. Hippie Hole is one of the most sought-after swimming holes in North Alabama. Some days you will find this place a quiet escape from the busy city. Other days it more resembles a party with tents, grills, and music playing. This swimming hole offers a beautiful pool to swim in, with places to climb, jump, and relax. There’s something for all ages with shallow pools to deep places to swim. Please note, swimming in this swimming hole is highly dependent on the water level. If the water level is too high, it may be too dangerous to swim. If the water level is too low, water may not be flowing and therefore not be safe to swim in. The best time of year to go to this swimming hole is June and July. Not only is it hot enough to swim, but the water level is typically just right for swimming, though this differs year to year depending on the rainfall.
The hike to the bottom of Noccalula Falls is a must do for any Alabamian. Noccalula Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in Alabama at 90ft tall. This waterfall is one of the most visited natural attractions and offers a train, a petting zoo, cool rock formations, playgrounds, and of course a hike to the bottom of the falls. There is a 2 mile loop that starts with giant cliff faces, takes you over a pedestrian suspension bridge, follows up the river, winds you around the waterfall, and finishes the hike following a long beautiful cliff face. This is a great park to take the kids and offers some incredible views of the waterfall.