Top 5 Sandals for Summer

By Natalie Ferguson

(With a background in retail and a love for wellness, travel, and the outdoors, Natalie Ferguson joined Alabama Outdoors in 2016. )

Sun’s out, sandals out! From wedges to pair with your easy, breezy sundress, to functional yet stylish sandals fit for all your adventures, we have rounded up the best sandal brands for summer and highlighted some of our favorite styles.


I remember when I was growing up, I wore Teva sandals every summer. As they say, everything comes back in style.

Teva continues to refresh its selection, making the functional yet trendy sandal a mainstay and the summer must-have sandal. 

Two pairs-of-Teva-summer-sandalsWhat’s not to love about Teva? They have the nostalgia, the bright color pops, and fun prints (like the new, magical Unicorn print).

Plus, there is a style for everyone.

Did you know? “Born out of necessity to prevent sandals from floating downstream, a resourceful river guide strapped two Velcro watchbands to a pair of old flip-flops. And just like that, Teva was born.”

The Universal series

With easy-to-adjust Velcro straps, quick-dry features, and on-trend, this sandal has it all. Did I mention these sandals are also earth-friendly? The straps are made from recycled polyester, helping keep plastic out of landfills! 

    • If you’re looking for some height, look no further than the Flatform Universal. This platform shoe will take you from the beach to the breweries in comfort and style. 
    • Love the style but not the height? The Midform Universal or the Original Universal is the perfect fit for you! 

The Hurricane Series

When you love the look of your Tevas, but need more performance and support, the Hurricane series has multiple water-ready, functional styles. 

  • The Hurricane XLT 2 Sandal is equipped with a Rugged Durabrasion Rubber™ outsole that stands up to tough terrain and supplies great traction. 
  • The Hurricane Drift is just what it sounds like: the perfect sandal for floating on the water. This sandal takes summer fun to the next level with a silhouette designed to be ultra-comfortable, super durable, and ultra-light. 


chaco-top-summer-sandalsMost everyone is familiar with Chaco, and for good reason. Chaco’s sandal selection offers styles that are ready for whatever your journey holds.

If you are chasing waterfalls all day and relaxing on an outdoor patio at night, Chaco sandals are perfect for it all. Yes, Chaco still has the classic Z Clouds and Z Cloud X’s, but check out some of the new styles!

The Lowdown

The name says it all. The Lowdown gives you all the basics of a Chaco sandal in a low-to-the-ground sandal. This low-profile style is 40 percent lighter than your classic sandal, making it a smart, travel-ready sandal with all-day comfort. 

The Banded Z Cloud

Chaco took the classic Z Cloud and added an extra strap on the top of your foot so you have more stability on your trek. This style is good for you and good for the planet, thanks to Chaco’s eco-friendly dyeing techniques.


Searching for your new favorite everyday sandal? Birkenstock is where it is at! So why all the hype about this sandal?

Birkenstock’s comfy cork footbeds earned the brand its devoted fan base. The cork molds to the shape of your foot, making it the perfect “solemate.”

Here are just a few of the styles we love!


birkenstock-top-sandalsThe Arizona is your timeless, wide-strap buckle slide and continues to be the summer staple for many because of its maximum comfort and versatile, classic design. The Mayari is our favorite slide for those who prefer thinner straps and a toe loop. We know that toe loops are a personal preference. 

Ankle Strap Sandal

The Yara Habana Oiled Leather sandals are our top pick for an ankle-strap sandal. Like the Mayari, the Yara Habana has a  toe loop, but it also features a curvy ankle strap, giving the sandal a more feminine feel and the security of an added strap.


Sorel applied the expert craftsmanship of its boots to its sandals, creating functional and fashionable shoes that stand out.

So if you are looking for a summer sandal to dress up your wardrobe without compromising comfort, the Ella Sandal will meet all of your expectations. The EVA footbed coupled with soft, stretchy straps that hug your foot will give you all-day comfort and style perfect for summer. Sporty, stylish, comfortable, and effortless. 


We all have that one pair of flip flops we wear out every summer because it seems to be our throw-on and go-wherever shoe. The Rainbow Flirty Braidy flip flop is just that. With a high-quality nubuck leather top and a comfortable single-layer midsole, this flip flop is durable and fashionable. The braid detail in this style makes it our favorite option!

Find all your summer essentials at Alabama Outdoors. We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time.  Visit one of our stores or take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup  #BeOutdoors

Summer 2020 Travel Tips

kids-in-back-of-carIt’s been a crazy and confining spring. If you are like most other people, you are understandably ready for a change of scenery! 

Alabamians are fortunate to live within driving distance of gorgeous beaches, picturesque lakes, and beautiful mountains. If you are planning your family’s summer getaway, here are a few tips for safe travels from Dr. Ellen Eaton, an infectious diseases professor at UAB. Eaton shared these suggestions in an interview last week with WBHM.

Plan your trip stops before you go

Before you load up the car with kids, pets, water noodles, and baggage, plan out your trip. Where will you stop along the way for restroom breaks? Where will you stop for food? 

If you want to stop at a restaurant, call ahead and understand their processes. Are they allowing customers to eat inside? Do they wear face coverings?

If you know you will need bathroom breaks along the way, plan to stop at less-traveled rest stops and consider wearing a face-covering in public.

Bring your own hand sanitizer

Assume you will have limited access to hand hygiene while on the road and prepare accordingly to protect yourself and others, says the CDC. 

Bring your own hand sanitizer and make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Bring hand wipes, too, to clean tiny hands when hand washing isn’t an option. Use wipes or sanitizer after touching surfaces like doorknobs and handles or using the restroom.

Also, if you are staying in a hotel or rental property and you want to clean it before you settle in, be sure to bring your own cleaning supplies. (Some destinations may be running low on cleaning supplies, especially if they have an influx of out-of-towners.) You can follow the CDC’s general recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting households to safeguard your vacation rental.

Bring your own food

Rather than stopping for food, bring snacks in the car and skip the drive-through. Pack a cooler with water, veggies, fruit, and sandwiches and save a little money and time on your way to your destinations. bird-on-a-beach

Better yet, eat a meal( and make sure everyone uses the restroom) before you hit the road.

Plan, plan, plan

Travel may take a little more planning and coordination this year, but as long as you follow the guidance of the CDC and state and local health officials, you can still have a wonderful summer vacation!

Find all of your summer essentials at Alabama Outdoors. We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Visit one of our stores or take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup  #BeOutdoors


Bees are a Big Deal in our Ecosystem

By Alex Martin

(Alex joined Alabama Outdoors in October 2018. The Lexington, Ky., native has a background in social media marketing and retail. She grew up spending summers at her grandparents’ farm and also has spent many years on working horse farms learning about the equine industry. With a love for animals and the outdoors, she hopes to own her own flock of backyard chickens one day soon.)

bee-on-a-flowerBees are small creatures in our large world but a mighty part of our ecosystem. As pollinators bees support the growth of trees, flowers, and plants. 90 percent of all plants require cross-pollination to thrive. 

These plants serve as food and shelter for other creatures. Our ecosystem is intricately connected and bees are more of a key component than you might think.

However, in recent years there has been a significant decline in the bee populations around the world. The reason behind their decline could be linked to climate change, habitat loss, or the use of toxic pesticides. National Honey Bee Day on August 21, so let’s explore why bees are so important to us!

Bees pollinate flowers and crops

When bees collect nectar and pollen to fuel their flights they unintentionally move pollen from flower to flower. Pollen grains become stuck to the hair on their body when they are foraging and those grains are then moved from plant to plant resulting in pollination. Bees not only pollinate wildflowers, but also agricultural crops.

Many of our favorite crops require pollination in order to germinate and grow. This is an essential step in the production of more than 100 U.S. crops. Apples, strawberries, cashews, onions, coffee … the list goes on for crops that heavily rely on bees for pollination purposes.

Even alfalfa crops that are used to feed dairy cows are dependent on bees for pollination. If our bees disappear, some of our favorite foods will likely go away as well. It’s not just fruit and vegetable crops that depend on pollinators. Wild plants count on pollinators as well. These wild plants serve as a food source and habitat for the wildlife around them. While there are other methods that facilitate pollination like gravity, wind, butterflies, and birds, our bee population are the main insect pollinators.

Bees are responsible for one of every three bites of food we consume. They support healthy crops and food production which in turn feeds millions of people and livestock. 

Bee by-products

Bees also produce several things that we use in our daily lives, including:

Honey: While many people use it as a sweetener, it also considered to be a nutrient and an antioxidant.

Beeswax: You can find this rich product in creams and cosmetics, as well as candles.

Bee pollen: This protein-rich substance contains all the essential amino acids, various fatty acids, vitamins B, C, D, E and K, and provitamin A. Some people take it as a supplement, although it can trigger allergic reactions.

How to help protect bees

There are ways to contribute and help protect the bees! 

  • Fill your garden with bee-friendly flowers. Marigolds are a popular choice for a bee garden!
  • Avoid using pesticides or opt for a more natural alternative. Ladybugs and praying mantises will keep pests away. 
  • Support your local farmers and buy local honey! Local honey can sometimes even help with seasonal allergies by familiarizing your body to local allergens.
  • Spread awareness. People have misconceptions about bees. Bees are typically not a danger when left unprovoked.

Before you buzz off, check out #BeeTheSolution for ways to take action and to continue to educate yourself on bee conservation. 

At Alabama Outdoors, we want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Visit one of our stores or take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup! #BeOutdoors

Day Getaway: Historic explorations in Birmingham

By John Nuckols

(John Nuckols has worked with Alabama Outdoors since the 1970s in a variety of roles. He loves music, playing drums,  cookies, and good coffee. He also loves helping people find the gear they need for trips and then hearing about those trips when they come back. He also knows a bunch about Birmingham. Next time you’re looking for a place to explore, ask John for some tips.)

I know that during these days of staying at home, the normal activity list can run out quickly. One might need to look a little closer to home to add to the activity list.

A couple of resources I have found very helpful are:

  1. My curiosity and 
  2. the Internet. 

My curiosity has taken me all over to great places before and after the Internet, but, I have to admit, the Internet is awesome. And I have to credit Bhamwiki as my preferred research resource.

I have gathered lots of information over the years and filled in some history through Bhamwiki. Here are some ideas for walkable, close-to-home explorations.

Birmingham and Edgewood Electric Railway  

Bhamwiki has a great read on this, but, to summarize, it was the trolley car line that ran over the mountain into Homewood and Edgewood. You can see parts of it around Homewood and coming up from Five Points toward Vulcan.

Finding these parts of the trolley line rates high in the curiosity factor for me. When you find these places, take notice of the rail beds and where they lead. It definitely takes you back in time.  

Lakeshore Drive 

I think most folks know about the Edgewood Lake and where it was in relation to what is now Lakeshore Drive. Did you know that Lakeshore Drive started out as a raceway? Way cool. Another cool thing you might not have found yet is the Shades Creek Dam. The interesting part of the dam is still there. It’s actually easy to find and really ties the Lakeshore Lake, park, and raceway history together.

You can start on the Lakeshore Trail off of Columbiana Road, walk to the end of the trail, and about two blocks down a side street ( old Columbiana Road.) Then you cross a bridge, which was built on top of the dam.  It may not be for everyone, but it adds to the whole Lakeshore story.

Homewood Pink House 

This house has been in the news recently and is worth knowing a little bit about. On Bhamwiki, you can search the name Georges Bridges, you will learn a lot of interesting history on him and his wife, Eleanor, as well as the house itself. It’s one of those places that you will appreciate more once you learn its history.     

I hope you will add these to your local explorations as we look for ways to make the most of this strange time. Thanks for reading and have a safe and great day.

You can find everything you need for your day getaway at Alabama Outdoors! We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Visit one of our stores or shop online and take advantage of curbside pickup or free shipping for orders over $69.99! #BeOutdoors

Top 7 Beach Essentials for Your Getaway

beach-essentialsSplashing in the waves, walking along the shore, lounging in a chair, soaking up the sun. Aren’t you ready to escape to the beach?  You aren’t alone! 

Many people are making summer vacation plans now that beaches have opened, and warm, sunny weather is finally here.

If you are planning a beach vacation, we have a list of beach essentials that will help you make the most of your summer getaway!

The perfect cooler

You need to keep your snacks and drinks cool while you soak up the sun, so a cooler is a necessity whether you are visiting Gulf Shores, the beaches of 30-A, or your lake cabin.

YETI’s updated Hopper M30 soft cooler features a wider, more accessible mouth for easy loading and unloading. It closes almost on its own, thanks to HydroShield™ magnet technology and two quick-release buckles to ensure it can withstand being tossed around.

If you’re looking for a hard-sided cooler that is tough but not clunky, Yeti’s first cooler on wheels, the Tundra Haul, will make that walk to the beach a breeze. Its taller, cube-shaped interior gives you plenty of space for food and drink, while its curved design tracks left or right for heel-friendly towing.

The perfect towel

PackTowel is a quick-drying, absorbent microfiber towel that is great for any activity, including camping, travel, fitness, and swimming.  Plus it also stays fresh longer thanks to Polygiene odor control. 

The Nomadix towel, made from recycled bottles, repels sand, dries fast, and feels butter-soft. It’s the only towel you need for yoga, the beach, travel, and camping. towels are also travel-ready, with colorful printed designs and absorbent, ultra-soft material.

The phone protector

Keep your phone dry and safe with a waterproof pouch.  Yeti Sidekick is big enough to hold your phone, car keys, and credit cards and keep them dry all day.

Meanwhile with the Lewis N. Clark waterproof magnetic phone pouch, you can still use your phone while protecting it. Phones are fully functional through the bag, allowing for voice and audio without the need for a headphone or audio jack. Plus the pouch is waterproof in up to 100 feet of water, so you can take photos underwater even if your phone isn’t waterproof!

The perfect beach chair

Nowadays you need your own chair if you are going to enjoy the beach. The Helinox beach chair is the perfect choice for long days on the shore because its splayed legs help prevent it from sinking into sand or soft ground.

The Helinox Chair Zero, however, is a light, extremely comfortable four-legged chair,  that is equally suitable for the beach or the lake. It also folds down to the size of a water bottle, making it easy to bring along on any trip!

Best beach sandal

beach-essentialsWhen you are looking for a beach shoe, you want versatility– a shoe that is as functional and stylish in the sand as it is at a cookout. Birkenstock’s classic sandal, the Arizona, is the original versatile sandal. Available in both EVA and leather, these men’s sandals are ideal for beach and lake fun alike.

For women, Birkenstock sandals combine the convenience of a slip-on, with comfort and style. Teva, meanwhile, offers a range of styles including flip flops, mid forms, and flatforms. Birkenstock and Teva both have waterproof styles that are perfect for a day on the water!

The best shore shorts

Shorts matter almost as much as swimwear at the beach. For many guys, shorts can double as swimwear. Two of the best versatile men’s shorts are from tried and true brands here — the AFTCO fishing shorts and the Patagonia Baggies. AFTCO’s insanely comfortable shorts are perfect for a fishing boat or the Flora-Bama. Patagonia’s Baggies made of sturdy Supplex® nylon, have a quick-drying liner and an elasticized waistband with an adjustable drawstring.

Patagonia also offers Baggies for women. Patagonia treats these shorts with a durable water repellent, which helps water bead up and roll off the material, making them perfect for water sports, boating, and lounging on the beach.

Superior sun protection

beach-essentialsDon’t forget to protect your skin while you are enjoying these long summer days. Sun Bum moisturizing sunscreen formula will protect your skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays while enriching your skin with Vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals.

Plus, Sun Bum only makes mineral-based paraben- and sulfate-free products. They are vegan, cruelty-free, and reef-friendly. And they smell wonderful.

If you are looking for fashionable sun protection, check out Coolibar. Coolibar shirts and tunics give you an easy, stylish top that also offers UPF 50+ sun protection. 

Bonus Pick: The perfect sunglasses

Protect your eyes and look good at the same time with a stylish pair of sunglasses. We like Suncloud’s Optics Fairline Polarized Sunglasses, which reduce glare and look great for an affordable price.

Costa Del Mar also offers a range of fashionable yet functional eyewear, including a best-seller, the Rincon 580P Mirror sunglasses.

The most important part of any vacation is making room for relaxation. A little advance planning to ensure you have these beach essentials will help make way for the maximum fun, sun, and play!


Find all of your beach getaway essentials at Alabama Outdoors. We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time.  Visit one of our stores or take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup  #BeOutdoors


Top 10 2020 Graduation Gifts

Even though this graduation season looks different this year, you can still make the grad in your life feel special and celebrate this important achievement. 

A thoughtful graduation gift for that high school or college graduate is one way to recognize the milestone and let them know you are proud of them. Here are our top 10 gifts your graduate will love!

1.  A cooler for the beach or lake

yeti-coolerThe Yeti Hopper flip 12 is a great starter cooler. With its soft-sided design, it is one of the easiest to carry around, whether you are going to the beach, on a short hike, or even on a picnic at the park.

 2. A way to capture memories

Your new grad will be able to capture amazing memories on all of their new adventures with the GoPro Hero 7 silver bundle with SD card. This compact, rugged, and waterproof camera takes stunning HD videos and features its HyperSmooth stabilization.

3. A light and compact hammock

An ENO hammock is the must-have item on everyone’s list right now. It is the best sidekick to your adventure — you can tie it up almost anywhere and just relax. Don’t forget to grab a set of Atlas straps needed to hang up the hammock. You can find them here.

4.  The perfect weekend bag

The Patagonia Black Hole duffel is the go-to weekender or soft-sided travel luggage. The Black Hole 55 is perfect for holding ropes and a rack of cams, a clean change of clothes, climbing shoes, and anything else you may need for a short adventure.

5. A functional, stylish daypack

cotopaxi-daypackYour one of a kind grad deserves a one-of-a-kind daypack. The Cotopaxi Luzon Del Dia daypack truly is unique; no pack is the same color and all of them are handmade. This 18-liter pack is a great size for day hikes and other travel needs.

6. Adventure-friendly drinkware

Another hot item and gift your grad will love is the Hydro Flask wide mouth insulated bottle. This bottle is more than a trending item, it keeps liquids cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 6 hours- making it perfect for any adventure!

7. A (young) adult wallet 

The Thread vertical wallet is the perfect item for those who need to keep debit and credit cards safe, but don’t want to carry a bulky wallet or purse. It’s the minimalist’s dream for a secure, stylish card holder. Plus, it has RFID blocking technology for added protection.

8. A lightweight tent

The Marmot Tungsten 2 Person Tent is a great gift to celebrate a milestone on the road to adulthood. Easy to assemble and lightweight, this two-person tent is a great option for your graduate’s next camping trip.

9. An awesome guidebook

The book, Best Tent Camping: Alabama, paired with a new tent or sleeping bag, could be the getaway gift your graduate needs!  This book, written by Joe Cuhaj, is an extensive guide to the 50 best tent-camping sites from Alabama’s mountains to its white beaches.

10. Survival and medical kits

Give your grad the gift of being prepared for their new adventures with the  SOL Origin Survival Kit and Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Hiker Medical Kit. The survival kit includes essential outdoor emergency tools like a knife, fire starter, and of course, a compass. The Mountain Hiker Medical kit has everything you need for outdoor medical emergencies ranging from a blister to a badly sprained ankle. 


Find the perfect graduation gift for your high school or college senior at Alabama Outdoors. We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time.  Visit one of our stores or take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup Or make an appointment for a virtual shopping trip today! #BeOutdoors

Stores Reopening!

Dear Alabama Outdoors Customers:

Thank you again for your continued support during our temporary store closures.  We are so excited to serve you in person again when our stores officially reopen on Thursday, May 14, just in time for your summer adventures.

We place a high priority on the well-being of our amazing team members and the trust of our community.  That’s why our stores have implemented safety procedures that include:

  • Maintaining a 6-foot distance between team members, customers, and checkout registers.
  • Installing protective equipment around registers.
  • Requiring all team members to wear facemasks.
  • Limiting dressing room access and number of people in high traffic areas such as footwear.
  • Taking additional precautions with returns.
  • Limiting store capacity to 50 percent.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing frequently touched surfaces throughout the day.
  • Daily health check for team members and not allowing team members who are sick to work.

There will be a few other changes in our store practices to encourage a more contact-free, healthy environment.  For instance, we will not accept cash transactions at this time. We will have hand sanitizer available at every store for customers. Also, we aren’t requiring customers to wear facemasks, but we are encouraging it for the safety of everyone.

We will continue to offer contact-free options through our online store at and provide curbside as well as our super-fast shipping. You may also call your local store and we would be happy to serve you over the phone or virtually.

We have an excellent selection of new summer footwear and clothing from the brands you love, just in time for that beach getaway. We are also ready to outfit you with the latest in hiking and camping gear for your wilderness adventures.

Thank you again for your patience, understanding, and continued support of Alabama Outdoors. We look forward to seeing you in our stores and serving you soon!

Scott McCrory


Day Getaway: Natchez Trace in Alabama

By Jennifer Melhiser

(Jennifer Melhiser joined Alabama Outdoors in 2015 as an operations manager. She lives in Florence with her husband and 8-year-old son. She enjoys outdoor adventures such as hiking, canoeing, and camping and has a real passion for traveling and music.) 

As we are trying to adjust to our new routines, I discovered my family was spending more time on electronic devices than before.

The new routine has my son at home completely immersed in his tablet, laptop, or gaming device. The new routine is binge-watching TV shows, making silly dance videos, and playing video games. We seem to be living in our devices lately.


Since we live in Florence, we looked nearby for a new adventure: The Natchez Trace!  The middle part of it — about 33 miles of the original historic forest trail — runs through Northwest Alabama. It’s now our go-to for outside time.

Off the grid on the Natchez Trace

The entire Natchez Trace extends about 440 miles from Nashville, Tenn., to Natchez, Miss. If you are not familiar with it, I highly recommend you research it before making a visit. 

The Trace is an ancient path that began as a wildlife and American Indian trail. Today it’s a designated National Scenic Trail with no billboards, few road signs, and no commercial traffic. 

Cell service is spotty at best on the Trace, so make sure to bring a physical map and use the mile markers as a guide. At one point on a recent visit, we had three different devices giving us three different directions! 

My husband and I looked to the sun and studied the terrain to get our bearings. We were, once again, reminded of how dependent we have become on electronics.

Beautiful scenery and wildlife

As soon as you are on the Natchez Trace, the beautiful scenery takes you back to a pristine time.  The vivid colors of spring and summer blanket the Trace.

You can explore hiking trails, natural springs, creeks, and the Tennessee River. There are Indian mounds, overlooks, and historical sites to view. 

Seeing wildlife in action is always an extra bonus. We saw wild turkeys, hawks, black vultures, butterflies, and more.  Below are a few spots that my family and I enjoyed exploring along our journey of the Natchez Trace.

Colbert Ferry at milepost 327.3


Travel south on the Trace, cross the John Coffee Memorial Bridge over the Tennessee River, and you will find the Colbert Ferry. The ferry, on the southern shore of the river, is a must-see.

There is fishing, a boat launch, a picnicking area with grills, hiking, and camping. Not too far from the parking lot, you can access the original Old Trace and hike to an overlook on the Tennessee River. This area is part of the Northern Alabama birding trail and an Indian historical site.

Colbert Ferry has a rich history. According to local legend, George Colbert charged Andrew Jackson and his Tennessee army $75,000 to ferry them across the river (to and from the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.)


Rock Spring at milepost 330.2

A short nature trail here gives you a chance to explore a natural spring. Stepping stones along the path lead you across the creek and into the woods. Along this loop trail we saw butterflies, beaver dams, and even encountered a snake while crossing the creek.   Look out for ruby-throated hummingbirds as they are a favorite on this Alabama birding trail. Rock Spring is a spot to find tranquility within nature.

Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall east of milepost 338

The Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall is not an advertised stop on the Natchez Trace, but it is truly an Alabama must-see. A local man, Tom Hendrix, built this wall to honor his great-great-grandmother, Teh-La-Nay. 

She was a member of the Yapuchi tribe that was forcibly relocated to Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears. She ultimately walked back home to Alabama and the Tennessee River that she truly loved. 

The wall is located on private property and dogs are not allowed. As I walked this long path surrounded by woodland terrain, I could feel the anxiety and stress of the new normal lifting away.  

Cypress Creek

We crossed the state line into Tennessee and stopped at a picnic area along Cypress Creek. I looked across the road and could see we were at the edge of the rolling hills of Tennessee. We spent much time playing along Cypress Creek skipping rocks, climbing on fallen trees, and trying to keep the dogs from dragging us into the water. 

Over the weeks, I found my family looking forward to these outings. These experiences gave us the relief we needed to be able to mentally prepare for what the future holds and deal with the new routine. Take your time, breathe a little easier, and find a new adventure to explore. It is worth the memories!

To get there from Birmingham: Take I-20/59 west. Merge onto I-65 north toward Cullman, AL. Turn onto A1-157 west. Follow the road as it goes past Florence toward Cherokee, AL. Turn onto N. Pike Road in Cherokee.  Turn north onto the Natchez Trace Parkway.


Gearing up for a day trip? We can help! we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Buy an eGiftCard today or take advantage of our shipping, curbside pickup, or home delivery services or make an appointment for a virtual shopping trip today! #BeOutdoors

Backyard Chickens: Are They Worth It?

By Alex Martin

(Alex joined Alabama Outdoors in October 2018. The Lexington, Ky., native has a background in social media marketing and retail. She grew up spending summers at her grandparents’ farm and also has spent many years on working horse farms learning about the equine industry. With a love for animals and the outdoors, she hopes to own her own flock of backyard chickens one day soon.)

field-backyard-chickens-womanMore city dwellers are warming to the idea of backyard chickens as more people look into ways to grow their own food. But is raising chickens in your backyard really worth the investment?

We did some digging, some market research, and even hung out with some of these trendsetters and their chickens to better understand the trend. Here’s our list of top reasons people commit to becoming chicken parents:

Fresh eggs that are organic + non-GMO

This one is pretty obvious and usually the No. 1 reason people raise their own chickens. They want to know what they’re putting into their bodies and what they’re feeding their families. 

colorful-fresh-eggs-backyard-chickensSo how many eggs can you expect from your chickens? The short answer is that it depends on the age and breed of your hen. Egg count naturally decreases as hens get older. But well-fed backyard hens can lay up to 250 eggs in their first producing year.

Free-range eggs have several advantages over store bought-eggs in their nutritional value. Your farm-fresh eggs compared to store-bought eggs will contain less cholesterol, less saturated fat,  and increased vitamin A, E, and D. 

Backyard chickens have educational value

Owning a flock of chickens can provide your children with a better understanding of what it takes to put food on the table. They get a chance to literally see what “farm to table” means and all the work that goes into caring for chickens and getting eggs. Plus, they can learn about responsibility and empathy for animals.


  • You can expect to pay around $3-$6 a chick if you pick up your chicks at a Tractor Supply but you are committed to buying six. 
  • You’ll also need to invest in a chicken coup which can range anywhere from $200-$1,000 depending on the size that you want.
  • A 50 lb. bag of chicken feed costs around $16. Each laying hen will consume about ¼ lb of feed a day. 
  • Your time also has a price. What is your time worth to you? You can expect to spend time every day caring for your chickens: collecting eggs, letting them out of their coop in the mornings, and securing them safely inside at night, refreshing their food and water supply. 
  • Lastly, to raise chickens in a residential area you will need to comply with your local ordinances. If there are permits or fees they are not much different from a dog or cat license. We found a helpful resource if you’re wanting to check out what regulations apply to where you live. 

Overall, yes it is cheaper to purchase eggs (even organic ones) at your local grocery store but you can experience so much more from raising backyard chickens. You’re helping fight the cycle of animal cruelty in the egg industry by raising free-range chickens and not investing your money in factory farming.

A source of therapy: Entertainment + companionship 

backyard-chickens-mother-childIt’s not breaking news that spending time around animals has many health benefits. One of the most notable benefits being reduced stress levels. Spending time with your new flock can be a nice way to end a stressful day.

A relatively new chicken owner of only three years, Emily Black, values spending time outside with her family watching their hens. “Watching my kids learn about raising livestock is such an amazing benefit of owning chickens. They love searching for eggs every day. It’s like nature’s own scavenger hunt.” Emily shared her thoughts with us on how her children are gaining new experiences from raising chickens. “Hanging out with my flock on the weekends is so fun and honestly they have such a calming effect on all of us.” 

Many people become quite attached to their flock by naming them and spoiling them as if they were pets. Chickens likely won’t take the title of Man’s Best Friend from dogs anytime soon, but, with their rapidly growing popularity, they seem to be making a name for themselves on the “best pets” list.

Pros and cons of owning chickens

However, if you’re not in the market for pets and are solely interested in eggs that are higher quality and cost less than ones that you can buy locally. this might not be an endeavor you want to take on. Chickens are low maintenance, but they can be noisy, messy, and smelly, and they can tear up a backyard. 

But they will let you test out your city farming skills before you commit to a more rural setting and more time-consuming livestock like goats or cows. Just make sure you are ready for the challenge before you commit to becoming a chicken parent!


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Trail Running: Top Trails in Alabama

Trail running is a challenging sport that combines running with hiking on unpaved surfaces for a unique and fulfilling mental and physical workout. If you are looking for the best trails to run in Alabama, we have compiled a list of the top trail-running areas from Florence to Birmingham to the Gulf Coast.

Birmingham running trails

Red Mountain Park

Red Mountain Park offers more than 1,500 acres of trails to run at your own pace. One of our favorite trails at Red Mountain is the route to Rushing Rendezvous which is 2.05 miles from the welcome center. Red Mountain is also pet-friendly: They have Remy dog park for your furry friends when you are done on the trails. 

Oak Mountain State Park

Oak-Mountain-State-ParkLocated in Pelham, Oak Mountain has more than 100 miles of trails for hikers and mountain bikers alike. The park is Alabama’s largest state park with over 11,000 acres and offers a wide variety of trails, from a 3-mile loop around Double Oak Lake to a 6.2-mile moderate path to a 14-mile difficult trail.

Moss Rock Preserve

Located in Hoover, Moss Rock Preserve is a 349-acre nature preserve with about 12 miles of hiking and running trails. Moss Rock is also very popular for climbers as it offers around 40 easily accessible bouldering problems. Be sure not to miss the beautiful waterfalls while you are there!

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve

Located in Birmingham, about 15 minutes from downtown is Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve. Ruffner Mountain has around 12 miles of trails and offers some spectacular overlooks and views of The Magic City. 

Florence/ Shoals Area trails

Cane Creek Canyon

cane-creek-trail-runningLocated in Tuscumbia, Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve is about 15 miles south of Florence. This preserve has 700 acres of beautiful nature filled with over 15 miles of trails great for hiking and trail running. As you run or wander through the nature preserve you will find stunning overlooks and waterfalls.

Shoals Creek Preserve 

Shoals Creek Preserve is a beautiful nature preserve just north of Florence. The preserve is around 300 acres and has over 4 miles of trails for hiking, running, biking, and even horse riding. Be sure to check out the waterfall on the Lawson Branch trail!

Wildwood Park

Wildwood Park is just a couple miles from downtown Florence. The park has plenty of nature trails and even 3-5 miles of mountain biking trails ranging from beginner to advanced. Not to mention it is so easy to access if you are looking for a beautiful spot for a quick run.

Mobile area trail runs

Blakely State Park

Blakely State Park is a historic park in Spanish Fork with more than 2,000 acres of very diverse habitats.Blakeley-trail-running Located within the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, the park also offers boat tours through the rivers. So after your run or hike, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the sights of the park from the boat. 

Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail

Located in Orange Beach, Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is made up of seven trails, with six different ecosystems that stretch around 15 miles. The trail systems will take you through Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and even Gulf State Park. Not only are the trails great for hiking and trail running, but each also offers something different, so make it a weekend trip and explore all the attractions it has to offer. 

Chickasabogue Park ( Chickasabogue Park Temporarily Closed for Amenity and Infrastructure Upgrades)

Chickasabogue Park is a 1,100-acre park just 20 minutes north of Mobile. With over 17 miles of hiking and biking trails, there are plenty of options for you, whether you are looking for an easy stroll through the wildlife refuge or a longer trail run. This is another great park for a full day of activities as they also have a disc golf course, a white sandy beach with a swimming area to relax, and campsites for when you are ready to call it a day. 

Read a review of trail-running shoes and socks here. Find all your trail-running gear at Alabama Outdoors! We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time.  Visit one of our stores or take advantage of our shipping, curbside pickup, or delivery. #BeOutdoors