Climbing & Hiking Trails - 13 min read

15 Best Hiking Trails in Birmingham (Great Running Trails!)

Town and Tourist

Town and Tourist, Updated November 2, 2022

Birmingham may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of hiking, but you may be surprised when you experience the trails here. The industrial history of Birmingham provides a unique twist on your typical hikes.

Several abandoned mining sites, mine shafts, and buildings are nestled in the mountains that surround the city and provide endless nooks and crannies to explore. 

Birmingham has some great hikes that provide an escape from the city. There are lots of historical trails that offer peace and tranquility without having to leave the metro area. With a little bit of something for everyone, Birmingham has some truly great hiking to offer and it should definitely be on your list of places to hike.

There are plenty of great hikes in Birmingham, and nearly all of them are considered easy or moderate difficulty. This is the perfect place to hike for nature lovers and history lovers alike. 

We put together a list of what we think are the 15 best hikes in the Birmingham area so let’s check out some hikes!

1. Overlook Trail via Quarry Trail

Credit: Alex Strickland / AllTrails

The Overlook Trail is a quick hike that will take you out and back over 2.8 total miles in about an hour and a half.

This is a popular trail that is open year-round. As guessed by the name, this trail has a beautiful overlook that has great views of the surrounding area. 

The hike has lots of uphill sections but is generally short and followed by downhill sections where you can catch your breath. The entire hike is well marked and you will find lots of shade to help keep you cool. 

Dogs are welcome but must be on leashes. The nature along the way is beautiful and there are tons of wildflowers to enjoy during the right seasons. This is a great hike if you want to escape the city and enjoy the nearby nature. 

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.8 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 383 feet

2. Black Creek Park Rails to Trails

Credit: Sheree Martin / AllTrails

This trail follows an old rail line that was removed and then converted to the trail. Since this trail was previously train tracks, the trail is very level and easy to hike or bike. The trail surface is smooth gravel and is very well maintained. 

The trail more or less follows alongside Black Creek through the woods. There are benches every mile or so and mile markers every half mile. There are also a few trails that break off to the side and will lead you down to the creek

This is a very relaxed trail for those who just want to get out and enjoy the outdoors while getting a bit of exercise. This is also a popular spot for birdwatchers to try and spot the various species that are in the area. 

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 7 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 305 feet

3. Jemison Park Nature Trail

Credit: Maria Alonso / AllTrails

The nature trail in Jemison Park is a great way for families to get out and enjoy nature together.

The trail is about 4.7 miles long and takes an hour and a half to hike out and back over the rolling hills. The elevation changes are easy and the hike is very relaxed. 

The trail is mostly paved and there is plenty of shade along the way. This trail is very popular with walkers, runners, and bikers.

There is a cute bridge that goes over a creek and plenty of landmarks that are historic to the community. This is a very easy way for inexperienced hikers or those with small children to get out and enjoy nature.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 4.7 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 137 feet

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4. Eureka Mines Trail

Credit: Hannah Pruitt / AllTrails

Eureka Mines Trail is a relatively easy 2.4-mile hike that will take you past several historic mining sites from the late 1800s.

The trail surfaces can have loose gravel in some areas so sturdy shoes are recommended. This is a great hike for kids or dogs as the elevation and terrain are pretty easy for most. 

There can be some muddy spots along the hike but nothing that will ruin your day. Red Mountain Park is the home of the Eureka Mines Trail and has free entrance and free parking. There is plenty of shade but it might be a good idea to bring some water with you. 

This hike will take about an hour but many hikers take much longer to stop and explore the different mine sites along the path. This is a fun hike for the family and has lots of history to enjoy.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.4 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 288 feet

5. Veterans Park Loop Trail

Credit: April Shelton / AllTrails

The Veterans Park Loop Trail is an easy loop that will take about an hour to hike. As a gentle hike through the woods, this is a great option for families. The elevation is not difficult and it is a relatively short hike. 

The gravel path will take you past a lake, streams, a playground, and a tunnel. There is enough shade along the way to keep you cool. This is a popular loop for trail runners and hikers. Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash. 

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.7 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 167 feet

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6. Ridge Walk, Spring Gap, BMRR North, and South Trail

Credit: Joseph Wolf / AllTrails

This is a very popular loop that will take around two hours to complete. This trail has lots of hikers, mountain bikers, and bird watchers. Kids and dogs will also have a great time on this trail. 

There is a lot of shade as you hike across the varied terrain. You will find several artifact displays with educational signs that will teach you a little bit about the history of the area.

Lots of different species of birds live amongst the trees here, so bird watchers will enjoy this hike as well. 

The beginning does have one steep section, but most of the hike has fairly mellow inclines and declines.

Most of the trail is well marked and isn’t too difficult to follow. You will hike along a ridge, along gravel roads, old railroad beds, and more.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 5.3 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 423 feet

7. Lizard Loop from Ruffner Road

Credit: Dana McKeen / AllTrails

Lizard loop is a quick 45-minute hike on a mostly flat trail. This trail is easy and short enough for kids and dogs to tackle. There is lots of shade to protect you from the sun. The trail can get a little bit muddy so be prepared with proper footwear.

The trail takes you through some pretty dense forest with lots of exposed rock, wildflowers, birds, and wildlife. There are some old buildings and structures that have begun to fall victim to the forest. 

This hike is an easy introduction to hiking for kids or those who don’t have any hiking experience. It is a great way to plant the seed that will grow into a love for hiking!

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.8 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 114 feet

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8. Grace’s Gap Overlook

Credit: Matt Robinson / AllTrails

Grace’s Gap Overlook will take you on an hour and a half hike over 3.9 miles to the top of Grace’s Gap and back. This hike is located in Red Mountain Park and will take you past abandoned mining buildings and mine shafts. 

The overlook gives a nice view of Birmingham and has a cool suspension bridge and treehouse to enjoy.

The trail is well-marked and has a pretty smooth surface so it will be easy on the knees and ankles. The elevation isn’t terribly difficult but there are a few spots where it gets rocky. 

Be aware that the park closes at 5 PM in the winter so you will want to get there with enough time to finish the hike.

Also, this is a very popular spot. You definitely won’t have the trails to yourself. The hike is on the easier side of moderate so dogs and kids should be able to manage it. 

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.9 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 380 feet

9. Moss Rock Preserve Trail

Credit: Pepato Creative / Flickr

This is a great loop for those who want to add a little bit of cardio to their hike. It is rated as a moderate difficulty because of the elevation changes and terrain. You will have a few creek crossings and lots of inclines and declines on this hour and a half hike.

The trail is generally well marked in most places but can be easily lost if not paying attention. You’ll see lots of exposed rocks and boulders along the trail. Rock climbers will enjoy bouldering some of the rocks here. Wildlife lovers will enjoy the wildflowers, birds, and wildlife. 

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 431 feet

10. Moss Rock Preserve Loop

Credit: Marciacbm / TripAdvisor

The Moss Rock Preserve Loop is a longer and more technical alternative to the Moss Rock Preserve Trail. The loop is a little more than two miles longer than the Trial and will take you through some different terrain. 

You will see a few small waterfalls, lots of exposed rock, wildflowers, wildlife, creeks, birds, and more. This hike has some pretty steep sections and the terrain can be rocky and have lots of exposed roots so some sturdy hiking shoes would be a good idea

There is shade on about half of the loop so be prepared to face a little bit of sun. The trails can be poorly marked in some areas so it is recommended to have a map or the AllTrails app to help navigate. This hike should take a little more than two hours and you can take your dogs as long as they are on a leash. 

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 5.2 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 597 feet

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11. Moss Rock Preserve: Orange Trail

Credit: Yoshinari Ishikawa / AllTrails

Another great option in the Moss Rock Preserve is their Orange Trail. This loop is about 3.5 miles and should take an hour and a half or so to complete.

The terrain can be moderately challenging due to the steep inclines and high steps. Dogs and kids should generally be able to hike this loop.

Along the way, you will see boulders, waterfalls, lots of wildflowers, wildlife, birds, and more. The peak of the hike is an overlook that gives a nice view and a good spot to rest before heading back. 

This is a great hike for nature lovers. The creeks and waterfalls create a peaceful scene and the exposed rocks and boulders are a reminder of how old this place is. It can be a little bit muddy after rain but good shoes should help. 

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance:3.5 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 462 feet

12. BMRR South Branch Trail

Credit: Betty Sermon / AllTrails

South Branch Trail is another popular loop in Red Mountain Park. This 2.7-mile hike should take just a little more than an hour to complete. The terrain isn’t terrible but there are some steep areas with rocks and roots so hiking boots are recommended

The trail is well marked throughout and has lots of wilderness and historical aspects like old mining structures and sites to explore and enjoy. There are lots of different plants and wildflowers that you can spot along the hike as well. 

This hike is on the easier side of moderate so kids and dogs are able to enjoy it as well. Runners, hikers, and dog walkers regularly enjoy this trail but you usually won’t find it to be terribly overcrowded. This is a very peaceful abode that is just next to the city.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2.7 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 285 feet

13. Boulder Canyon Nature Trail

Credit: William Dixon / AllTrails

This is a quick loop that has some pretty steep inclines and declines. The hike is less than a mile and can be completed in about 25 minutes. The hike is short but the terrain can be rugged and it can be difficult to follow the trail, so it is considered a moderate hike. 

There is a beautiful creek with a small waterfall for you to enjoy along the way. You’ll also see lots of wildflowers and maybe catch a glimpse of a few birds. This hike is dog-friendly but be aware that snakes are commonly spotted in the area so keep an eye on your dog

Sturdy hiking boots will definitely help with the rugged terrain. Also, keep in mind that there are usually fallen trees along the trail that can take some work to navigate around. Overall, this is a short hike but will come with a bit more of a challenge compared to other sub-1 mile hikes. 

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 0.8 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 131 feet

14. Red Mountain Full Loop

Credit: Matt Holt / AllTrails

This is the full loop of Red Mountain. At just under 10 miles, this hike should take about four hours to complete, depending on how much time you spend exploring the mine sites. You can take any of the shorter variations of the loop if you don’t want to hike the entire thing. 

This is the full tour of Red Mountain Park. You will pass lots of abandoned mining sites and shafts. You’ll cross a suspension bridge, hike through a few different terrains, and see lots of different historic artifacts. 

This hike also has lots to offer for nature lovers. You will find plenty of trees, mushrooms, wildflowers, birds, and more. The overlooks provide great views of the city and are also a great place to stop and catch your breath. 

There are a few difficult spots, but kids and dogs should be able to manage most of this trail. You always have the option of taking a different variation to cut the hike short if needed. 

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 9.7 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,099 feet

15. McDuffie Fitness Trail

Credit: Alexander Quante / AllTrails

This is a winding single-track trail that uses switchbacks to take you up and down the mountain on this loop.

This trail usually takes an hour and a half to two hours to complete. As guessed by the name, this is a perfect trail to get a great workout. 

Very popular with hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers, McDuffie Fitness Trail offers some blood-pumping inclines that will make you work to get up the mountain. This trail isn’t just for getting a workout in, hikers can enjoy taking things at a leisurely pace as well. 

The trail surface and terrain are pretty smooth but the inclines can be tough. Kids and dogs are welcome on this hike as well.

Also, be on the lookout for runners and mountain bikers coming down the mountain. There is plenty to enjoy on this unique loop packed full of switchbacks. 

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.6 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 278 feet

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