1. Fall Creek Falls State Park – Spencer, Tennessee
Located in rural Spencer, Tenn., Fall Creek Falls State Park is home of two beautiful waterfalls. At 256-feet, Fall Creek Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the Eastern United States. Samford sophomore, Riley Lackey, shared her experience at the state park by saying, “As a Texas resident, I didn’t grow up around waterfalls, but Fall Creek Falls was one of the most incredible waterfalls I have ever seen.” Fall Creek Falls is just over three and a half hours away from Birmingham making it preferable for a two-day trip.
2. Stephens Gap Callahan Cave Preserve – Woodville, Alabama
Home one of the best kept secrets in Ala., Stephens Gap Cave boasts a 150-foot waterfall inside of one of the largest caves in the state. For the typical Birmingham resident, Stephens Gap Cave presents an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of a city and spend a day exploring. Brian Woods, an avid hiker from Johnson City, Tennessee, said, “The trail is rated ‘moderate’ because it becomes a bit technical as one advances up the gap. The preserve itself is pristine and the terrain is interesting.” Brian described the experience as “simply magnificent!”
3. Lula Lake Land Trust – Lookout Mountain, Georgia
On top of the beautiful Lookout Mountain stands one of the most exclusive hiking spots in the South, Lula Lake Land Trust. With online reservations and limited capacity, spots at Lula Lake fill up nearly two months in advance. Home of two gorgeous waterfalls and a stunning creek, Lula Lake is an incredible place to meet avid hikers from across the country. Courtney Fish, a Texas native, described Lula Lake as “one of the best hiking spots in the state.” Fish went on to say that she enjoyed the park enough to purchase an annual pass and visits regularly.
4. Walls of Jericho – Estillfork, Alabama
Near the Tennessee-Alabama border stands the Walls of Jericho. Caleb Shillingburg, former Birmingham resident, river rafting guide and outdoors enthusiast said that the hike at the Walls of Jericho was one of the most physically demanding hikes in the state. Full of elevation changes, waterfalls and caves, the Walls of Jericho are the perfect spot for hikers looking for a challenge.
5. Foster Falls Recreation Area – Sequatchie, Tennessee
Located just outside of Chattanooga, Tenn., Foster Falls is a part of the South Cumberland State park which stretches across the Cumberland plateau in Southeastern Tenn.. Along with the 60-foot waterfall, Foster Falls has unique spots for climbing, repelling, swimming and hiking along the creek that flows from the deep pool at the base of the waterfall. Illinois resident, Elena Joy Sasieta, described Foster Falls as, “absolutely gorgeous.”
6. Desoto Falls State Park – Mentone, Alabama
In Mentone, Ala., Desoto Falls stands as a favorite for Alabamians. At 107-feet, Desoto Falls is home to one of the most visited waterfalls in the state. During the warm summer months, the beautiful pool is filled with children and teenagers swimming beneath the massive waterfall. Whitney Seals, a student from Talladega, Alabama, said “Eating lunch by the waterfall was so cool and if it had been warmer, it would have been a great swimming hole,” after visiting the falls in February.
7. Tallulah Gorge State Park – Tallulah Falls, Georgia
Home of one of the most beautiful canyons and suspension bridges in the Eastern United States, the North Georgia hiking spot is nearly always filled with hikers eager to see the peaceful river banks. Recent Samford graduate and Atlanta native, John Pawlik, said, “The view over the gorge is my favorite part, but the massive staircase is a must see.”
8. Cheaha State Park – Delta, Alabama
At the very highest point in the state stands Cheaha State Park, home of two beautiful lookout spots. From the well-paved path to Bald Rock or the more rugged trail to Pulpit Rock, Cheaha State Park is filled with short, family-friendly hikes to some of the most beautiful views in Ala.. Cheyney Statham, an online reviewer said that Cheaha was “worth the few dollars to get into the park.” Statham went on to say that she “would love to go back in the spring or fall.”
9. Oak Mountain State Park – Pelham, Alabama
Located just outside of the suburbs of Birmingham, Oak Mountain is a fan favorite for Birmingham residents. At 9,940 acres, Oak Mountain is the largest state park in Ala.. With kayaking, basketball, hiking, swimming and lake sports available, Oak Mountain presents the perfect day trip for those looking for a local spot to frequent. Bessemer resident, Thomas Bracker, said he hiked Peavine Falls at Oak Mountain State Park, with his five year old. He described the hike as, “fairly simple on the way in, climbing down to the falls was a little steep, but nothing over the top.”
10. Caney Creek Falls – Double Springs, Alabama
Hidden in the backwoods of the Bankhead National Forest, Caney Creek Falls is one of the many waterfalls nestled in the Sipsey Wilderness. With unmarked trails and poor cell service, Caney Creek is for the most experienced hikers. Despite the difficulty, Andrea Lowery, a hiker and online reviewer on AllTrails said, “The waterfall is always beautiful and worth it.”During the winter months, Caney Creek freezes over and is home to a beautiful winter wonderland.