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Best Backpacking In Alabama

Our comprehensive guide to the best backpacking you can find in Alabama.

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Pinhoti Trail

This 111-mile path samples every flavor of wild Alabama, from the mixed hardwood forests and cooling streams of the Appalachian Mountains to rugged ridgelines, hidden lakes, and longleaf pine groves where the forest floor is a thick, soft blanket of needles. Keep an eye out for turkeys, armadillos, and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Plans are underway to connect Pinhoti’s northern end with the Appalachian Trail in Georgia.

Contact: Talladega Ranger District, Talladega National Forest, (256) 362-2909; www.southernregion.fs.fed.us/alabama.

Sipsey Wilderness

Wild-flowing creeks in northwestern Alabama converge to form the Sipsey River, 61 miles of which are designated Wild and Scenic. Here you’ll find some of the state’s last stands of virgin timber, sinkholes and small caves, towering bluffs, and the rare flattened musk turtle. Several good loop hikes depart the Sipsey River Recreation Site on the wilderness area’s southern boundary.

Contact: Bankhead Ranger District, William B. Bankhead National Forest, (205) 489-5111; www.southernregion.fs.fed.us/alabama.

Talladega National Forest

Journey beyond top-pick Pinhoti Trail (above) and you’ll find more great hiking in Talladega National Forest. Thick hardwood forests, sunny rock outcrops, hidden waterfalls, and the southern edge of the Appalachians make Talladega National Forest prime country for hikers, bobcats, turkeys, and deer. From Lake Chinnabee, several trails access the forest and link to the Cheaha Wilderness and the Pinhoti Trail.

Contact: Talladega Ranger District, Talladega National Forest, (256) 362-2909; www.southernregion.fs.fed.us/alabama.