Alabama Sales Tax Holiday: July 21-23

Alabama schools are announcing plans for the new school year, which means it’s time to start thinking about back-to-school gear. Alabama’s 18th annual back-to-school sales tax holiday is just around the corner! 

Every year on the third full weekend of July, the state of Alabama allows certain items that are typically purchased for the school year to be sold state tax-exempt for one weekend only.

The Legislature created the three-day sales and use tax holiday in 2006 to help trim costs for parents. Popular items include:

See below for all of the details for this year’s sales tax holiday.

Man and women on college campus with backpacksBack-to-school sales tax holiday details

Friday, July 21, 2023, at 12:01 am through Sunday, July 23, 2023, at midnight.

Throughout the state, businesses are required to participate in the state tax holiday if the county or municipality they are located in participate. Check out this comprehensive list of counties and municipalities that are participating this year. 

What supplies and products qualify: 

  • Clothing $100 or less per article of clothing, footwear included
  • Computers and computer supplies, a single purchase of $750 or less
  • School and art supplies, $50 or less per item (i.e. backpacks, lunch boxes, paper and pencils, etc.)
  • Books $30 or less per book

Check out this list for a more detailed description of each category.

What you need to know

  • Make sure that the county or municipality you are shopping in is participating before you go.
  • Check out (or bring with you) this overview of items that are tax-exempt. While it says “clothing,” items like glasses, watches, and breathable masks are not included. 


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 in-store pickup! #BeOutdoors

Intro to Camping in Alabama: What To Know and Where To Go

Alabama Cheaha

With four national forests and 21 state parks, Alabama offers infinite opportunities to spend a weekend in the great outdoors—whether you prefer to find a campsite in the woods or pitch a tent practically on the beach. Alabama’s state parks typically play host to tons of amenities, often including restaurants, lodges, equipment rentals, and nature centers or museums; many state parks also provide access to incredible backcountry experiences.

Other public land—encompassing nearly 667,000 acres of Alabama—boasts much of the same fascinating history, much of it with the Civilian Conservation Corps, but in the company of fewer other visitors.

Regardless of where you plan to pitch your tent (and whether you plan to drive, hike, bike, or boat there) the time to hit the trail is now: Temperatures are cooling off, bugs have dissipated, and the fall camping season is in full swing. The wilderness is awaiting adventurers—and if you’re a camping newbie, here’s a rundown of some of the best spots for camping in Alabama.

Oak Mountain State Park

There is a ton to do at Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama’s largest state park. 

With over 11,000 acres, Oak Mountain is Alabama’s largest state park—and whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or a more rugged, off-the-beaten-path experience, this park has you covered. Oak Mountain boasts tent and RV sites, along with excellent hike-in backpacking sites for parties of up to eight.

It’s not just great camping: In addition to its hiking trails, this park’s mountain bike trail system was named to the international Epic Trail list by the International Mountain Bicycling Association in 2010. Oak Mountain rents canoes and SUPs for use on one of two 85-acre lakes—and, for those not ready to quite give up the summer, a beach specifically for campground guests.

Open Pond Recreation Area

Looking to skip the crowds? Open Pond Recreation Area has fewer amenities than many of Alabama’s state parks, but it also sees far fewer visitors each season—and, at just $8/night for a tent site, it’s a bargain. Sites boast panoramic views of the area’s namesake pond, as well as access to fishing, boating, biking, and hiking on the Conecuh Trail, which covers 20 miles of Conecuh National Forest. The trail—built by the Youth Conservation Corps—is open to backpackers, though it’s crucial to coordinate backcountry trips with the District Office to avoid scheduled deer hunts in the adjacent wildlife management area.

Cheaha State Park

Cheaha is the place to go for amazing views. Brian Collins

Alabama’s oldest state park is also one of the best spots for great views—it encompasses the 2,413-foot Cheaha Mountain, the highest point in the state. The Civilian Conservation Corps built a stone observation deck on the summit of Cheaha in the park’s early days; visitors can still take in the sights from Bunker Tower today. Cheaha is also the starting point for the 335-mile Pinhoti National Recreation Trail, which winds through Talladega National Forest on its course to the Appalachian Trail.

The park’s semi-primitive tent sites allow campers to park adjacent to their spot along the Picnic Trail, while primitive sites feel isolated from the hustle and bustle of the park. Reserve either type in advance for the best spots.

Cathedral Caverns State Park

Looking for a unique experience? Head to the caverns. Marshall County CVB

Cathedral Caverns is no longer called “Bat Cave,” but the moniker is still appropriate: The park’s main feature is its limestone cave system, which contains a forest of stalagmites—including Goliath, one of the world’s largest at 45 feet tall and 243 feet in circumference.

The park offers both improved and primitive campsites—no reservations required, and, unlike many state parks, no minimum stay, even on weekends—along with a backcountry site on Pisgah Mountain. Save a few bucks thanks to Cathedral Caverns’ cheaper camping fees (a benefit of its off-the-beaten-path nature), and splurge on a 90-minute cave tour, offered several times daily year-round.

Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve

With 12 miles of waterfront, Magnolia Branch is one of the best spots in the state to enjoy kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing, or tubing just steps from your tent. The reserve does have RV hookups and 15 tent sites with water. For folks looking to plan a last-minute trip, Magnolia Branch doesn’t put a limit on the number of primitive campsites—meaning you’re virtually guaranteed a spot, even on a busy weekend.

DeSoto State Park

There are several options for camping at DeSoto State Park. Jody Claborn

This state park gets plenty of points for biggest variety both in terms of overnight options and daytime activities. In addition to its improved, primitive, and backcountry sites, DeSoto State Park is home to a wall tent site, four rustic CCC cabins, and the primitive Pioneer Cabin.

Start the morning off on the right foot by attending an hourlong session of outdoor yoga (schedule here; $5/person), then spend your days canoeing or kayaking a section of flatwater above 107-foot Desoto Falls—the park rents single sit-on-top kayaks for $15/hour or $25/hour for tandem—or hiking on the park’s 35 miles of trails.

Gulf State Park

Alabama Gulf State Park has almost 500 campsites, plus 11 primitive sites. Ken Ratcliff

Located on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, the aptly named Gulf State Park is home to 2 miles of white sand beaches, along with over 28 miles of hiking and biking trails in the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail Complex, which covers six distinct ecosystems.

The developed campground at Gulf State Park is enormous—it offers nearly 500 sites with hookups—but the park has also added 11 primitive campsites for a more intimate experience, and 3 glamping sites. Along with myriad other forms of wildlife, this park is home to alligators, and though attacks on humans are rare, park management asks that visitors stay aware of their surroundings while in the park.


Written by Blane Bachelor for RootsRated in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of AL and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Find what you need for your camping adventure here! 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 in-store pickup! #BeOutdoors

Featured image provided by Alan Cressler

4 S’mores recipes to change up your fireside desserts!

Whether you’re camping in the backyard or in the backcountry, you’ll need a fire and some ingredients to make a great s’more. And we’ve got all your campfire needs covered, from fuel and fire starters to the Solo Stove or the MSR PocketRocket 2.

We all love a fireside s’more, but sometimes it’s fun to mix it up. So if you’re a lightweight hiker trying to cut down the food you carry or you just want to wow the campsite, check out some new and easy recipes. 

Peanut Butter S’mores

Peanut butter
Chocolate bar pieces
>>>Or sub both for peanut butter cups
Roasted marshmallows
Graham crackers

  1. Layer peanut butter on one or both of your graham crackers.
  2. Add your favorite chocolate bar pieces on one side.
  3. Or, for an extra treat, swap out the peanut butter and chocolate for a peanut butter cup.
  4. Add your toasted marshmallows directly on top of the chocolate or peanut butter cup.
  5. Sandwich together with the other half of your graham cracker, and enjoy!

Mint Lover’s S’mores

For a minty, easy-going s’more try this.

Thin mint cookies
Roasted marshmallows
Graham crackers (optional)

  1. Option 1: Take your roasted marshmallows and sandwich between two thin mints cookies, and enjoy!
  2. Option 2: Take the prepared sandwich from above and put it in between two graham crackers for a double stack!

Hazelnut and Banana S’mores

Any Nutella or dessert crepe lovers? This one is for you!

Chocolate hazelnut spread
Sliced bananas, or your favorite fruit (strawberries are also great here!)
Roasted marshmallows
Graham crackers

  1. Add a layer of hazelnut spread to your graham crackers (measure it with your heart).
  2. Top one side with sliced bananas or your favorite fruit.
  3. Add your marshmallows to your preferred roasted liking!

Pretzel S’mores

To really cut down on mess or multiple ingredients/snacks on the trail, this is a great one!

Chocolate or yogurt-covered pretzels
Roasted marshmallows

  1. Take your roasted marshmallows and sandwich in-between two chocolate or yogurt covered pretzels. 
  2. It’s that easy. Enjoy an easy and sweet + salty treat!



Find your favorite back-to-school apparel and gear at Alabama Outdoors.  Alabama Outdoors wants 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 in-store pickup! #BeOutdoors

How to Layer Clothing (and Why You Should)

Woman zips rain jacket on Norweigan mountaintop.

If you’re working, exploring or playing outside, your clothing is arguably your most important equipment. If you layer your clothing correctly, it can keep you warm (or cool) and dry. Layering divides up your clothing so that you can add or remove as much as the weather calls for without your clothes getting too bulky or leaving you too exposed. Here’s our guide on how to layer!

Illustration explaining clothing laters.


Base Layer


This is your first layer of clothing, the items you wear directly against your skin. The base layer for cold weather conditions is typically tight against the skin. That way, it reflects more heat back to the body. Base layers for warm weather should be looser so that air can flow between the garment and your body, helping you cool down. Think thermal/long underwear, t-shirts, socks and gloves. What you’re looking for is something that will add a little warmth but also wick moisture away and dry quickly. You Couple hikes in rain gear.may feel fine when you’re doing some sort of exercise, but once you start cooling down, any moisture held against your skin is going to make you that much colder. Look for items made from polyester or Merino wool. We love Icebreaker’s iconic line of Merino wool base layers, including shirts, technical tops, and leggings.

Mid Layer


This next layer is generally responsible for insulation. It traps air warmed by your body when it escapes from the base layer. More than one mid layer can be worn at a time, depending on how cold you are. The mid layer should also be moisture-wicking and quick-drying. You don’t want moisture to get trapped between the base and mid layers. That’ll just weigh you down and feel uncomfortable. Ideally, you want a garment that isn’t too heavy or bulky, too, since you’ll have to carry it if you don’t wear it. Look for items made from polyester fleece or stuffed with either a down or synthetic fill.


Outer Layer (Shell)Hiker sits, writing, on mountaintop.

This layer goes on top of everything else and is responsible for keeping wind, rain and snow off of you. Because they are made to repel moisture and block winds, shell layers are typically not very breathable. That means that they’ll reduce the effectiveness of any wicking properties of other clothes you have on. Shells are divided into three different styles: hard, soft and insulated. One material that is particularly favored in this area is GORE-TEX. It tends to be one of the more breathable materials that still stops moisture and wind from reaching the body. Arc’teryx offers some GORE-TEX shells.


Using a combination of these three layers of clothing will allow you to prepare for both expected and unexpected weather without leaving you wishing you’d brought along that one thing you left behind.


Text by Bo King


Wanting to get out and explore? Find what you need for your next winter adventure here.

10 of Alabama’s Best Places For Fall Camping

Some of the best things about fall camping are the smell of the fresh fallen leaves; the crisp, cool breeze; a notable absence of mosquitos; a warm fire at night; and s’mores. Thankfully, Birmingham is surrounded with great places to enjoy them all. Whether you are a backpacker, tent camper, or RV’er, you are guaranteed to find a place to camp within two hours of Birmingham that suits your taste. Here are 10 of our favorites.

1. Sipsey Wilderness

For the camper that is more interested in hiking than sitting for hours around a campfire, you’ve got to try the Sipsey Wilderness . It is a popular backpacking trail that will give you the all-nature experience you’re looking for. Forget the campground-provided wifi and water hookups. At the Sipsey Wilderness, you’re on your own. And that’s how backpackers like it.

2. Desoto State Park

The cascades of DeSoto Falls are breathtaking in the fall.
The cascades of DeSoto Falls are breathtaking in the fall. Natalie Cone

With incredible views from the top of Lookout Mountain, DeSoto State Park is one of our favorite places for camping. Choices include both improved campsites as well as primitive camping and two backcountry campsites with shelters. There are more than 25 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as kayaking, bouldering and rappelling opportunities.

3. Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park

Trails are shaded and quiet at Tannehill State Park.
Trails are shaded and quiet at Tannehill State Park. Natalie Cone

Tannehill is a great place to visit in the fall whether you’re camping or not. With interesting things such as Trade Days, where “shoppers and swappers” peruse booths of knives, jewelry, clothing, tools and many other hand-made and unique items you can’t find anywhere else. With woodcarver shows, festivals and programs, you’ll never run out of things to do at Tannehill. Bike, walk or hike Tannehill’s gorgeous trails and check out the blast furnaces, cabins and old mill from the 1800s.

4. Pinhoti Trail

Backpacking the Pinhoti is an adventure.
Backpacking the Pinhoti is an adventure. Todd

For the more ambitious and primitive camper, the Pinhoti is perfect for you. It is a paradise for backpackers. With a whopping 339 miles of trails from Cheaha State Park to Talladega National Forest, you’ll have to pack carefully and plan meticulously. With creeks, wildlife, beautiful views and unparalleled solitude, the Pinhoti won’t let you down if you’re looking for adventure.

5. Buck’s Pocket State Park

Breathtaking view of Buck's Pocket.
Breathtaking view of Buck’s Pocket. Aaron Davis

Buck’s Pocket State Park  features a campground for the campers that need amenities such as water and electricity, as well as a primitive camping area for the tent campers that like roughing it a little more. Along with over 20 miles of hiking trails, there is also a playground, an old drying kiln, and a picnic shelter.

6. Cheaha State Park

Waiting for the Sunset at Cheaha State Park.
Waiting for the Sunset at Cheaha State Park. Fang Guo

You won’t believe the views at Cheaha . The state park is host to the highest mountains in the state, and offers several types of camping options: primitive, semi-primitive, improved, and group primitive campgrounds. With trails, overlooks and waterfalls galore, you’ll run out of memory in your camera before you run out of energy. You can enjoy rappelling and rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, and checking out the buildings such as the Indian Relics Museum, Gem Mine, and Civilian Conservation Corps Museum.


7. Oak Mountain State Park

Oak Mountain State Park has endless trails and gorgeous views.
Oak Mountain State Park has endless trails and gorgeous views. Kelly Verdeck

Oak Mountain State Park  is great for tent campers, RV’ers and backpackers. It is, without a doubt, a state park that has something for everyone. It is the largest park in the state with 51 miles of hiking and biking trails to explore and many waterfalls to discover. Also available are boat rentals, an archery park, an educational Interpretive Center, and wildlife rehabilitation center.

8. Brushy Lake Campground

Brushy Lake Campground is a great basecamp for hiking the Sipsey Wilderness and Bankhead National Forest.
Brushy Lake Campground is a great basecamp for hiking the Sipsey Wilderness and Bankhead National Forest. Michael Hicks

For backcountry campsites that are as primitive as they come, Brushy Lake Campground wins the award. Nestled along the shore of a 33-acre freshwater lagoon, you’ll find yourself getting lost in the beauty of the blue-green, smooth-as-glass water. It is the best base camp for hiking the Sipsey Wilderness and Bankhead National Forest, and in itself, is a paradise waiting to be explored. With only 13 campsites available, it is a smaller campground, but well-worth the visit with incredible waterfalls and endless nearby hiking trails.

9. Wind Creek State Park

Wind Creek State Park offers plenty of recreational opportunities on Lake Martin.
Wind Creek State Park offers plenty of recreational opportunities on Lake Martin. Alabama State Parks

Wind Creek State Park  features one of the largest state-operated campgrounds in the U.S., so this place is huge. It hugs the shores of beautiful Lake Martin and makes for some beautiful sunrises and sunsets. There are just under 29 miles of hiking trails, so you’ll have plenty of time to relax by the fire after a little exploring in the woods. If you’re a fan of birding trails, Wind Creek is also a stop on Alabama’s Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail .

10. Lake Guntersville State Park

A peek through the pines along the shoreline of Lake Guntersville.
A peek through the pines along the shoreline of Lake Guntersville. Aaron Davis

For the tent campers that like camping lakeside, Lake Guntersville would make a great choice. The serenity of the placid, beautiful waters of the lake will make your stay more peaceful. There are 36 miles of trails to stretch your legs and explore a little, and can be customized for a short .5 mile hike, a moderate 3.5 mile hike, or a combination of trails for a hike that is as long as you like. Everywhere you go in this park beautiful, so bring a camera and have fun.


Find your favorite Fall 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 free shipping on orders over $69.99 or free in-store pickup! #BeOutdoors


Written by Natalie Cone for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Michael Hicks

Junior League of Birmingham Shop Save & Share

Supporting the local community

Your participation in the Junior League of Birmingham (JLB) Shop Save & Share helps JLB build better communities! That’s because your Shop Save & Share card is more than just a coupon card; it’s also a fundraiser that helps JLB focus on improving the lives of children in our communities through our impact area — Healthy Children: Hunger, Nutrition & Fitness.


How Shop Save & Share Works

  • Your Shop Save & Share coupon card can be used from September 28th through October 9th
  • The cost is $40 and provides users with a 20% discount at Alabama Outdoors as well as over 200 merchants throughout the Birmingham area. Shop Save & Share is about shopping local, but it is also about eating local! Be sure not to miss out on discounts and deals at some of our amazing restaurants in town! 
  • Purchase your Shop Save & Share coupon card online here or at our Homewood location. All buyers receive a digital pass and you can choose to also be mailed a physical coupon card to keep with you!
  • Shop Save & Share coupon cards are available for purchase to everyone in the community, not just JLB members.
  • All proceeds enable JLB to continue its community impact projects.

Shop Save & Share Policies

  • All policies are honored at the individual store’s discretion.
  • The Shop Save & Share card entitles ONLY the cardholder to the specified discount during the specified shopping dates.
  • The Shop Save & Share card discount does not apply to any purchases made prior to or after the event dates.
  • Sale/clearance merchandise, special/custom/commissioned orders, and gift certificates are not honored with the Shop Save & Share discount.
  • The Shop Save & Share card holder must present the card at the time of purchase for discount.
  • The Shop Save & Share card discount is not valid/combinable with any other discount offer or promotion.
  • Exceptions and exclusions apply at some stores. A list of exclusions is provided to card holders in the shopping guide available on
  • The Shop Save Share Card excludes brands: On Running, Yeti, Hoka, Birkenstock, and Solo Stove at Alabama Outdoors locations.
  • The Shop Save & Share card is non-transferable, non-replaceable, and non-refundable.
  • The Shop Save & Share card discount does not apply to any purchases made online, unless the retailer is listed as an “online retailer” or as specifically stated by the participating retailer.
  • The Shop Save & Share card discount does not apply to the purchase of alcoholic beverages.
  • We appreciate your allowance to the one shopper per card policy.


Come shop with us in-store at any three of our Birmingham area stores:

Alabama Outdoors- Homewood
3054 Independence Drive
Birmingham, AL 35209 (205) 870-1919

Alabama Outdoors- Trussville
5467 Patrick Way  Suite 101
Birmingham, AL 35235  (205) 655-6025

Alabama Outdoors- Inverness
108 Inverness Plaza
Birmingham, AL 35242  (205) 980-3303


Or, shop with us online at and take advantage of Curbside Pickup! #BeOutdoors

New Arrival: Hoka Bondi 8 Running Shoe

The all-new Hoka Bondi 8 Running Shoe is a revolutionary shoe, redesigned.

With high-tech features like a new foam sole compound, a reconfigured upper, and a better fit for superior performance. Take a deep dive with us as we break down what’s new and why you’re going to love it.



From top to bottom, the Hoka Bondi 8 is all-new.

Building on the foundation of previous models, this update redesigned the sole. The low-profile foam and sturdier midsole make them perfect for long runs, walks, or shifts on your feet. The changes include an updated midsole composition with an extended heel for extra support. The billowed grooves on the side provide added impact protection. This midsole design gives this model a bouncy, responsive feel that keeps you on the move. While previous styles were often pillow soft, they didn’t provide the necessary firmness to support your feet. This style solves those issues with flexible cushions and superior support. And the outsole is more durable than ever thanks to targeted rubber abrasion pads. Shop Men’s. Shop Women’s. Shop all Bondi 8.



 The redesign also features an all-new upper .

With an integrated memory foam collar, a more plush mesh, and a more tapered fit, it’s ready to go for summer runs. The integrated memory foam collar provides key structural support. That support keeps your ankles comfy without compromising on performance. The plush mesh upper provides room to stretch and lets your feet breathe. Thanks to the technical mesh construction, it doesn’t add extra weight, and still cradles your foot. The updated taper fit is a better option for narrow feet, and the style comes in a 2E width as well for wider feet. The upper comes together to create a structured, breathable design that’s light enough for easy runs.

This update transforms the Bondi from a squishy, pillow-soft trainer into a competent and supportive recovery shoe with the cloud-like feel you love. If you’re staying on your feet and need soft support over long distances, this shoe is for you. From long runs to long shifts, comfort doesn’t stop with the Hoka Bondi 8 Running Shoe. Shop Men’s. Shop Women’s. Shop all Hoka.


Love Hoka but looking for a different style for your activity? Shop all Hoka styles here!


Find your favorite back-to-school apparel and 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 or in-store pickup! #BeOutdoors

Alabama Outdoors Fall T-Shirt Graphics Contest


Calling all creatives in Alabama! See your design come to life. Alabama Outdoors is partnering with AAF Birmingham and holding a design contest for students and creatives to create a new t-shirt design for our Fall/Winter 2022 season. The winning designs will be used on our new product line of Alabama Outdoors brand Pima Cotton long-sleeve tees and featured in Alabama Outdoors five retail locations as well as an online web store. Designs will also be featured on our social media, printed materials, etc. with a special shoutout to the artist.


  • Access Alabama Outdoors Fall T-Shirt Guide HERE
  • Designs must appear native to the Southeast.
  • Design must be the original work of the submitter.
  • Design must include a front-pocket design with no more than two colors.
  • Main back graphic must contain no more than 6 colors.
  • Graphics must be in vector form.
  • Designs must meet brand and t-shirt standards and guidelines.
  • Graphics must be original work designed by the contest participant and have not been used previously for commercial purposes (including freelance websites such as Fivver, etc.).
  • Participants must live in the state of Alabama.


The competition is open to all students, freelance designers, and all creatives within Alabama.


  • Main back graphic images must be designed to fit a 10-inch by 10-inch (10”x10”) space.
  • Front pocket designs must be designed to fit a 3-inch by 3-inch (3”X3”) space.
  • Designs must be submitted electronically in a vector format (pdf, etc)
  • Entries must be submitted using this form: Alabama Outdoors x AAF Fall T-shirt Contest Submission Form
  • Limit (2) submissions per participant.

Submission Deadline

  • Contest Begins: Monday, July 18th, 2022
  • Submission Deadline: Monday, August 8th, 2022, 12:00 noon.
  • Winners will be notified via email by August 16, 2022. 


A committee of Alabama Outdoors employees will judge and select up to 10 styles to move forward to a public voting round. Entries will be judged on their visual appeal, adherence to the concept prompting the contest, quality of design, and ease of reproduction through screen-printing. The polling link will be (and can be) shared publicly. The community voting round will be live from Tuesday, August 9th, through Friday, August 12th at 11:59pm CDT. Each voter may vote only once but they may vote on their favorite design they would love to see created. Additional submissions may be selected as winners. Once the community voting round is over, the Alabama Outdoors committee will take into account the poll as well as the initial judging concepts and guidelines and will select up to 5 winning styles (note that less than 5 winning designs is possible). The final selection of winners will be decided by Alabama Outdoors. Alabama Outdoors may request additional tweaks/changes to winning designs.


By submitting a graphic design for entry in the competition, the designer acknowledges that they are the original creator of the design. The designer also certifies that the design does not infringe upon the rights of any third party and that it does not violate any copyright. Alabama Outdoors will acquire ownership of all winning contest submissions by assignment of copyright, and the winning designers will disclaim any trademarks and without limitation, all other rights related to the design upon being selected by Alabama Outdoors. Winning graphics cannot be sold or redistributed to others.


Winners will have their design(s) showcased and sold in Alabama Outdoors five retail store locations and website. Winners will receive (1) Swag Bag that will include (1) AO t-shirt with their winning design, (1) AO Nalgene Bottle, (1) AO $200 Gift Card, and a plaque presented by AAF Birmingham. Alabama Outdoors is not responsible for lost, late, misdirected, incomplete, illegible, or otherwise unusable entries, including entries that are lost or unusable due to computer, internet, or electronic problems.


Check out our current season T-Shirts and more Alabama Outdoors gear here.  Alabama Outdoors wants 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 in-store pickup! #BeOutdoors

Burn Off Thanksgiving Dinner With These Alabama Hikes



Of course, it’s tough to resist that delectable dressing and gravy, as well as the pecan pie. So, instead of depriving yourself, work it off by hiking during your holiday break. After all, you can burn hundreds of calories per hour while hiking, and it’s a great opportunity to spend quality time with your family and friends.

In Alabama, you’ll find plenty of great hikes that not only burn calories, but also take you to high-mountain views, quiet streams and beautiful waterfalls. When you’re ready to work off your Thanksgiving feast, consider one of the following invigorating hikes.

Pinhoti Trail/Cave Creek Loop

Along the Pinhoti Trail/Cave Creek Loop you’ll pass a bronze marker celebrating the connection of the Pinhoti Trail to the Appalachian Trail. Joe Cuhaj


Cool, crisp mountain air and one of the best views of the Talladega Mountains await you when you hike the 6.8-mile Pinhoti Trail/Cave Creek Loop.

This moderate hike begins just northeast of Cheaha State Park at the stone portal of the Cheaha Trailhead on Highway 281. Half of this loop uses Alabama’s famous long path, the Pinhoti Trail, which is appropriate since Pinhoti is an Indian word for “turkey.” Along the Pinhoti section you’ll pass the bronze marker that’s embedded in a granite boulder commemorating the connection of the Pinhoti Trail to the Appalachian Trail. Further along, you’ll reach McDill Point, which offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. To return, you’ll use a connector trail to reach the Cave Creek Trail. In one section you’ll do a little rock scramble, but you’re rewarded with more great views.

Turkey Creek Nature Preserve

Take in the tranquility of the rushing waters of Turkey Creek at the preserve that bears its name in Pinson. Andy Montgomery


If you’re looking for quiet solitude in the woods and a fun place to work off the mashed potatoes, take a ramble along the 5.3-miles of trails at the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in Pinson.

The preserve is closed on Thanksgiving Day, but it reopens the following day.

The paths range in difficulty from easy to moderate as they wind through a thick forest of pines and hardwoods. During your hike you’ll encounter babbling streams, a boulder field, and the rushing waters of Turkey Creek. Normally, in the summer months the creek is filled with locals and visitors splashing in its icy waters, but in late fall this is a tranquil place where you can rest beside a garden of small waterfalls and let the sound take you away.

Martha’s Falls

Hike to Martha’s Falls in Little River Canyon. Alan Cressler


How about a water”fall” hike to Martha’s Falls in Little River Canyon. Starting at the Little River Canyon Center, this one is an easy 3.2-mile roundtrip walk. You’ll enjoy beautiful views of the deepest canyon east of the Mississippi and visit Martha’s Falls, where tumbling rapids spill into a broad pool. This is also a popular spot in the summertime for a dip in the swimming hole.

Land Trust of North Alabama

The Monte Sano Preserve in Huntsville has an impressive array of trails. Shannon McGee


Maybe you’d like to get in your exercise before you gobble down all that great food. If that’s the case, join the staff and volunteers of the Land Trust of North Alabama for their annual Thanksgiving Day hike at the Monte Sano Preserve in Huntsville. The preserve has an amazing array of trails with towering bluff lines, old quarry caves, springs, waterfalls, and interesting history.

The organization has been hosting this event for the past 26 years, and the 4-mile trek begins at 9 a.m. and ends at the Three Caves Quarry.


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Written by Joe Cuhaj for RootsRated in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of AL and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to



Haunted Hikes of Alabama

Visit the ghostly grounds of haunted Old Cahawba.



If you’re fascinated by ghosts, shadow people, and things that rustle in the night, you should plan a haunted hike to add a new twist to your Halloween celebration. Whether you’d like to trek through a eerie pocket of the backcountry, or simply stroll through a creepy cemetery, you’ll find that Alabama has plenty of destinations that will send a chill up your spine. Here are a few of our favorite haunts:

Blue Mountain Shelter on the Pinhoti Trail

Each year, hundreds of people hike Alabama’s veritable long trail, the Pinhoti, and spend their nights in the many trail shelters that dot the path. In Section 7 of the trail, at mile 2.1, you’ll encounter the Blue Mountain Shelter, which has developed a bit of spooky reputation.

Built in 1983 the shelter is an unassuming, 3-sided, typical trail shelter. But, inside, you’ll see where someone has written, “There are shadow people here!”

Those who spend the night in the shelter have reported seeing strange shadows and hearing weird noises like scratching sounds on the walls. After hearing the noises, hikers have investigated the area and claimed that there were no signs of animals, and there are no trees located close to the shelter.

Old Cahawba Archaeological Park

Old Cahawba in the 1860s was a major prison for Union soldiers during the Civil War.

Old Cahawba in the 1860s was a major prison for Union soldiers during the Civil War. Joe Cuhaj


Old Cahawba has had quite a history. Beginning in the early 1800s, it was a bustling cotton distribution hub along the Alabama River. In 1820, it became the first state capital, and in the 1860s it was a major prison for Union soldiers during the Civil War. Today, you can roam those same streets—more than 5 miles of them—and you might come face to face with some of the town’s past residents, like the spirit of a key-stealing slave.

Not long ago, the site director for the Old Cahawba Archaeological Park and paranormal investigators made an audio recording in the “New Cemetery” where the white people of town were buried. On the recording they heard a voice say, “Don…key”.

The following day, Don, the park’s maintenance supervisor, came in and told the director he couldn’t find his keys. They found them in the slave cemetery on the other side of the park next to the grave of the key-stealing slave.

If space is available, you should try to join the park’s annual Haunted History Tour.


Old Cahawba Prairie Tract

Are there ghosts haunting the Forever Wild’s Old Cahawba Prairie Tract in Selma? Could be.

The site was once owned by Jesse Beene, whose uncle was William Lowndes Yancey, and Yancey is credited with helping Alabama enter the Civil War. Legend has it that all of Yancey’s slaves were poisoned at a well somewhere on the property. When Yancey died, he was buried in a family plot on the Old Cahawba Prairie Tract, but at some point the tombstones were removed, and the family graves were most likely plowed under by farmers. However, the bodies of those dead and gone are still somewhere on this tract, and their spirits are waiting to tell you their tale.

Fort Morgan Historic Site

Witnesses say that if you are near the fort in the evening you can hear screams.Witnesses say that if you are near the fort in the evening you can hear screams. Bradley Huchteman


Only a short drive west from Gulf Shores is the Fort Morgan Historic Site. Visitors can take a 2.4-mile ramble around the grounds to visit many historic sites and the fort itself.

Built in 1834, this massive stone fortress was built to defend the nation against foreign invaders. In 1864, it played an important role in the Civil War’s “Battle of Mobile Bay” that killed 322 Union troops and 1,500 Confederates.

Witnesses say that if you are near the fort in the evening, or are afforded a rare opportunity to enter it after hours, you can hear the screams of those who died. You might even see the ghostly figure of a woman who was killed during the battle and whose spirit continues to roam the grounds.

If you plan a visit, be aware that the fort hosts a haunted tour one night only in October.


Tuskegee National Forest

The smallest national forest in the state, Tuskegee near Auburn features the 8.5-mile Bartram Trail, which closely follows the footsteps of 18th Century botanist William Bartram. While walking the trail, hikers have heard some strange noises.

According to accounts, devil worshippers used to use an old house in the forest for bizarre meetings and ceremonies. In the early 1990s, the local sheriff’s office raided the house and discovered bodies. It’s said that the group feared the sheriff would find a secret burial ground they had established nearby and burned the house down. Ever since then, hikers have reported hearing weird sounds…perhaps the victims?


Sloss Furnace

Sloss Furnace is one of the most haunted sites in Alabama.

Sloss Furnace is one of the most haunted sites in Alabama. Shannon McGee


Known as the most haunted site in Alabama, the old Sloss Furnace in Birmingham has been featured on the television series “Ghost Hunters.”

The furnace was a major foundry in the region from 1882 to 1971, when it supplied steel to the entire country. In the early 1900s, the foreman for the night shift was James “Slag” Wormwood, a hard-driving manager who often made his workers do very dangerous jobs. While Wormwood was in charge, 47 workers died.

Slag died when he accidentally fell into the molten iron. After the accident, workers reported hearing a disembodied voice say, “Get back to work.” Years later, three supervisors went missing and were eventually found unconscious and locked in a small boiler room. The last thing they remembered was that a man with badly burned skin came up and told them to “Push some steel!”


Nancy’s Mountain

Hike Nancy’s Mountain and you might catch a glimpse of Nancy herself.Hike Nancy’s Mountain and you might catch a glimpse of Nancy herself. Joe Cuhaj


OK, a little personal experience about a nondescript hiking trail called Nancy’s Mountain.

The trail itself is not spectacular, just a wonderful walk in the woods, especially in the fall when the trees are vibrant with color. The trail is located in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Haines Island Park on the banks of the Alabama River in Franklin. The trailhead parking area also serves as the landing for the Davis Ferry.

As the story goes, Nancy and her family lived on top of the mountain,and Nancy’s only son went off to fight for the Confederacy in the Civil War. Months passed without word from her boy, and Nancy became distraught. Every day she would walk to the river to see if her son had returned home on one of the passing boats, but he never did. Her husband decided he would set off to look for him.

More time passed when word finally arrived that her husband was found frozen to death next to the grave of an unknown soldier in Tennessee. Soon after, Nancy disappeared, never to be seen again.

Race ahead to the present and Nancy has been seen on the trail. Former park superintendent Ike Lyons says that on several occasions campers on the mountain were seen running for their lives because they had seen a woman dressed in period clothing “floating” down the trail with a lantern in her hand.

Not long ago I walked Nancy’s Mountain with my big rescue Labrador, Archer. It was a cool morning with fog from the river shrouding the mountain. Archer loves to lead the way on hikes, but this time he wouldn’t budge. He would not hike the trail. He just sat down and whimpered.

Was it coincidence or was it Nancy? Hike the trail in the early morning or evening and see for yourself.


Find your favorite Fall 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 or curbside pickup! #BeOutdoors


Written by Joe Cuhaj for Blue Cross Blue Shield of AL and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Scott Weingart