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 28 years, and the 4-mile out and back trek begins at 9 a.m. at the Bankhead Trailhead and goes to the Three Caves Trailhead. You can also choose to leave a car at the Three Caves Trailhead for a 2-mile one way option.

Looking for help with your holiday shopping list this year? Check out our holiday gift guides for ideas for everyone on your list! 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


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 legal@getmatcha.com.



Alabama Outdoors 2023 Jacket Drive

How the Alabama Outdoors Jacket Drive works

Help us celebrate the season of giving by giving back to our communities with our Annual Alabama Outdoors Jacket Drive! Beginning Wednesday November 1st and ending on Tuesday November 7th, come into any Alabama Outdoors location to donate a gently used jacket and receive 15% off a new jacket or pullover. In-store only.

Donate in 4 easy steps:

  1. Pull from your closet a gently used jacket.
  2. Bring it to your local Alabama Outdoors store and hand it to an Alabama Outdoors team member to make sure it is in good condition to donate.
  3. Shop around the store and receive 15% off a new jacket or pullover at the time of donation!
  4. Jackets are taken to a local charity by the Alabama Outdoors team and donated to a person in need this winter!


It’s really that easy.

Alabama Outdoors will be holding the Jacket Drive at all of our locations and partnering with charities in our communities.


The partnering charities in each community are:

First Light’s mission is to work with homeless women and their children to create hospitality in a safe and nurturing community, to encourage them to maintain dignity, to find hope, to seek opportunity, and to grow spiritually, thereby achieving their full potential.

The Salvation Army assists approximately 25 million Americans annually. They have over 1.5 million members
consisting of officers, soldiers, and adherents. The Salvation Army helps with Anti-Human Trafficking, Combatting Addiction, Disaster Relief, Holiday Assistance, Music & Arts, Serving Veterans, Social Services & Youth Programs.

TEAM is a non-profit ministry providing food and clothing to those in need. They are located on Chalkville Road in Trussville, Alabama.

YWCA Central Alabama is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YWCA Central Alabama’s vision is to create a more caring community. We work every day to make a positive change in the lives of individuals and in the community.  They provide shelter, dignity, hope, and a strong foundation as they help those they serve find the strength to rebuild their lives.

Dwell Mobile exists to provide opportunities for refugees to thrive by raising awareness, removing obstacles, and restoring relationships. We envision our city as a place where refugees find their home.

Rules and exclusions:

Must present gently used jackets at the time of the transaction to receive a discount and provide warmth/weather protection. Valid in-store only at any Alabama Outdoors location. All offers limited to stock on hand; no rainchecks. Not valid on prior purchases, gift cards, gift certificates, taxes, or shipping or processing charges. Customers must pay applicable sales tax. Offer may not be combined with any other sale, promotion, discount, code, coupon, and/or offers. This offer ends November 7th at the end of the store’s operational hours. See team member for details.

Support Alabama Outdoors Jacket Drive and be part of something special that will make this fall and holiday season truly meaningful.


Fall is here and temperatures are dropping! Shop all new fall arrivals 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

New Brand Spotlight: mou footwear

Introducing mou boots: Your Perfect Companion for Cooler Weather

As the temperature starts to drop and the leaves begin to change, it’s time to embrace the cozy and be comfortable outdoors. And what better way to do so than with the all new mou boots! We’re thrilled to offer the Eskimo boot in two styles: the tall boot at 24cm in one color and the low boot at 18cm in 5 different color options, ensuring there’s the perfect boot for you!

Mou, a brand renowned for its commitment to quality and craftsmanship, has captured the essence of warmth and style in their Eskimo boots. What sets these boots apart is their meticulous attention to detail. Crafted with an EVA sole, these boots provide excellent support and durability for your outdoor adventures.

Outer: Leather 100%
Lining: Sheep Skin/Shearling 100%
Sole: EVA Rubber 100%

The genuine leather exterior not only exudes elegance but also ensures your feet stay dry and cozy, making them ideal for unpredictable weather. And let’s not forget the hand-crocheted wool detailing, adding a touch of uniqueness and charm to every pair. These boots are the epitome of comfort and style, designed to keep you snug and stylish as you explore the outdoors. While mou boots are not waterproof, they are water resistant and are adequate to wear in light snow and light rain, but we recommend keeping them dry for longevity of the leather.

Whether you prefer to shop in-store or online, our mou Eskimo boots are available now. Don’t wait; it’s time to gear up for cooler weather. These boots are your perfect companions to keep you warm and fashionable during the fall and winter seasons. So, visit Alabama Outdoors today and step into the ‘mouniverse’ – where quality, style, and comfort unite for your outdoor adventures.

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 $29.99 or free in-store pickup! #BeOutdoors

The Ultimate Alabama Climbing Road Trip


Sitting at the southern end of the Appalachian Mountain chain, Alabama is home to an array of crags and boulder fields that offer climbers many options for bouldering and sport climbing. Because many of Alabama’s best climbing areas are concentrated in the eastern and northeastern parts of the state, it’s possible to hit several of them without driving great distances. Really, it’s an ideal place for an epic climbing road trip, and fall will be here soon, bringing lower humidity and prime conditions for spending time outdoors. So, if you need to escape for a week, alert your friends, gather your gear, and check out our itinerary for an excellent Alabama climbing road trip.

Day 1: Moss Rock Preserve

20180831-Alabama-Moss Rock Preserve-Climbing

Moss Rock Preserve

Start your trip just south of Birmingham at a site that was nearly overtaken by development almost 20 years ago.

Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover has become one of the most popular and well-climbed boulder fields in the state. Close to 50 bouldering problems dot the preserve, and you’ll find everything from highballs to sloping mantles. There may be some light graffiti to break up the natural beauty, but the preserve is home to some of the best bouldering in Alabama.

Cap off a great day of climbing with a trip to one of the may area brew pubs, including local favorites Avondale, Good People, Cahaba, and Trim Tab breweries. You can stay the night at Oak Mountain State Park, which has 60 primitive tent camping sites, and six tent sites with electricity.

Day 2: Horse Pens 40

Horse Pens 40 draws climbers from around the world. Curtis Palmer

From Moss Rock Preserve, drive approximately 60 miles to reach your next destination, Horse Pens 40, a mecca of bouldering. It’s privately owned by the Schultz family, who live on the property and make HP40 one of the most hospitable bouldering destinations in the world. Everything you need for this stop on your road trip can be found on-site, including camping, cabin rentals, a bath house, a convenience store, and restaurant. You can even rent crash pads here. The boulder field has been meticulously detailed in a guidebook compiled by Alabama climber Adam Henry.

There are nearly 300 climbs at HP40, and many of the problems are in the V5 range, making this one of the best moderate bouldering sites in America. It’s also known as a great place for fall and winter climbing and hosts a few bouldering competitions each year.




Day 3: Hospital Boulders

From Horse Pens 40, head back to I-59 and travel north toward Gadsden. After you go about 25 miles you’ll reach Hospital Boulders, which is owned and managed by the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC). For SCC-owned climbing areas you will need a gate code to enter. You can get the code by request on the SCC webpage for each respective area. The 39 acres that make up Hospital Boulders consist of high-quality bouldering, plus some short trad, sport, and top-rope climbs. From the area parking lot, you’ll take an easy hike to reach the boulder field, which sports more than 200 problems.

Camping isn’t allowed at Hospital Boulders, but there are good campsites at Noccalula Falls, less than five miles away. Plus, Gadsden has several chain hotels. During your stay, check out the Back Forty Beer Company, Blackstone Pub and Eatery, or Merrill’s BBQ. Blackstone is a popular late-night pizza kitchen with occasional live music, more than a dozen unique pies, and 42 beers on tap. For quintessential Alabama barbeque, Merrill’s is where it’s at. It’s usually busy, and you might have to wait a while, but they serve some of the best barbeque you’ll ever taste.

Day 4: Cherokee Rock Village (Sandrock)

Cherokee Rock Village (or Sand Rock) offers trad and sport climbing, as well as bouldering. Alan Cressler

Now that you’ve had your fill of bouldering, it’s time for the trad and sport climbing leg of the road trip. From Hospital Boulders you’ll drive about 24 miles northeast to reach Cherokee Rock Village (climbers call it Sand Rock) in Centre.

Climbers have flocked to Sand Rock for decades, but for years they had to share the area with local partiers, and it wasn’t known as the most comfortable spot to climb due to litter and graffiti. Fortunately, site ownership now resides in the hands of Cherokee County, and the park has managers on-site, along with bathrooms, a playground, and camping sites.

You can trad or sport climb here, and also tackle solid boulder problems. It’s known as a spot where beginners can gain experience and veterans can find a new challenge. There is enough room here to spread out to avoid crowding, and the first climb you approach is a mere 100 feet from the car.

Day 5: Little River Canyon

Little River Canyon boasts the toughest sport climbing routes in Alabama. Alan Cressler

Now that you’re warmed up, it’s time for a bigger challenge, so leave Sand Rock and head about 20 miles northeast to Little River Canyon. Not for beginners, Little River Canyon is home to steep sandstone walls that offer the toughest sport climbing in the state. (For more beta, visit mountainproject.com, and get a copy of the “Little River Canyon Climbing Guide.”) Most routes are rated at least 5.11, making this crag a challenge for even the most seasoned climbers.

Little River Canyon is one of the most pristine and scenic areas of the country, but camping isn’t permitted in the canyon itself. Nearby DeSoto State Park has primitive campsites, and you can use the showers in the Improved Campground. If you’re not in the mood for campground cooking, head to Fort Payne and get a belly full of Alabama barbecue at Sally’s Smokin Butt BBQ, or Bar-B-Q Place.

Day 6: Jamestown

On the other side of Little River Canyon, about 15 miles away, is Jamestown, another SCC-owned site. If you’re into trad climbing, this is your go-to destination in Alabama. Bolting is only allowed with SCC approval, and there is a tight concentration of two- and three-star routes across more than 1,500 linear feet of sandstone rising 80 to 100 feet. While no camping is allowed in the climbing area, you can camp at DeSoto State Park or Cherokee Rock Village. Your best bet may be to head to Yellow Bluff, the final stop on your ultimate Alabama climbing road trip.

Day 7: Yellow Bluff

From Jamestown you’ll drive 85 miles to reach Yellow Bluff, a sandstone cliff that stretches nearly 1,500 feet. Formerly private property, Yellow Bluff became so popular that the former owners closed it to climbing, but the SCC purchased the land in 2009. Fortunately, climbers once again have access to over 70 climbs, more than half of which are sport climbs rated above 5.7. You can also find trad and boulder climbing here—just make sure you stay within the SCC boundary.

Yellow Bluff is located 20 miles east of Huntsville and is one of the most popular crags in Alabama for good reason. Since the SCC took over maintenance of Yellow Bluff you will find fresh quickdraws, anchors, and bolts, all less than a five-minute walk from the parking lot. Camping and fires are not allowed at Yellow Bluff, meaning that Huntsville will be your best bet for accommodations (try Monte Sano State Park). When you’re in Huntsville, take advantage of the thriving craft beer scene.


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 $29.99 or free in-store pickup! #BeOutdoors

Written by Hap Pruitt 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 legal@getmatcha.com.
Featured image provided by Will Gurley

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 October 18th through October 29th, 2023.
  • The cost is $40 and provides users with a 20% discount at Alabama Outdoors as well as over 250 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 in person at our Homewood location for a physical card. 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. Only applicable with regular price purchases.
  • Exceptions and exclusions apply at some stores. A list of exclusions is provided to card holders in the shopping guide available on www.shopsaveandshare.net.
  • The Shop Save Share Card excludes these brands at Alabama Outdoors: Yeti, Hoka, UGG, 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 www.alabamaoutdoors.com and take advantage of our convenient in-store pickup! #BeOutdoors

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

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. DeSoto State Park

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. 

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. Carl Stanfield

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. 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

Pulpit Rock overlook at Cheaha State Park. Cheaha State Park

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 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

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  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

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 legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Michael Hicks

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 legal@getmatcha.com.

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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!



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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.