A Local’s Guide to Alabama’s Best Dog-Friendly Hikes


A small black and white rat terrier dog in an orange vest standing in front of a waterfall in Bankhead National Forest in Alabama

Adventure 1 and 2

Nestled atop beautiful Lookout Mountain in scenic Northeast Alabama there are an abundance of waterfalls, wildflowers, and the southern peak of the Appalachian mountains. Desoto State Park and Little River Canyon are two great parks located just a few minutes away from each other! I highly recommend visiting both places and driving the 15-mile scenic parkway. There are more than 30 miles of pet-friendly hiking trails in the park. 

The main attraction at Desoto State Park is the 104 foot Desoto Falls. It’s truly a sight to see! Drive down the scenic parkway about 12 miles and you will run into Little River Canyon National Preserve. Little River Canyon is more than 15,000 acres of federally owned and managed. The pet-friendly hiking trails range from the scenic boardwalk to backcountry backpacking. You can also cool off with your dog in the natural swimming hole dubbed the “hippie hole”. 

The coolest part of Little River Canyon is your pup can become a National Park BARK Ranger! You can pick up a BARK Ranger checklist at the visitor center and once completed, your dog will receive their very own BARK Ranger tag. These are collectible tags available at pet-friendly national parks and preserves. You can find out more information about the BARK rangers program at BARK Rangers

 

An Australian Shepherd dog stands in front of a waterfall at Desoto State Park in Alabama

Rosie at Desoto State Park, photo by Taylor Schdmit

Adventure 3 

Let's take a journey to the Land of 1,000 Waterfalls! Yes, a 1,000 Waterfalls! 

Bankhead National Forest is located in northwestern Alabama near a tiny town called Double Springs. Bankhead is a hot spot for hiking, hunting, kayaking, swimming, and horseback riding. The Sipsey River runs through the Bankhead Forest providing a wide variety of wildlife, waterfalls, streams, and limestone cliffs. You can adventure down marked and unmarked trails in the forest with your furry friend, just be careful it’s easy to get lost out there! The Borden Creek Trail is one of our favorite marked trails. 

Bankhead Forest is a place where you always want to be prepared with extra food, water, and appropriate gear. There is limited cell service so make sure you download your trail map beforehand and alert someone that you are planning on hiking a certain part of the forest. 

Bankhead National Forest is extremely pet-friendly with lots of places to hop in and cool off in the summer heat! 

Adventure 4

Finally, off to seek adventure and solitude on the highest point in Alabama at Cheaha State Park. At 2,407 feet above sea level, Cheaha State Park is located on top of Cheaha Mountain. The views are breathtaking from the Bald Rock and Pulpit Rock trails. 

Cheaha State Park is surrounded by the Talladega National Forest, the Pinhoti Trail, and Cheaha Wilderness Area. You will find lots of mountain views and beautiful rock gardens to hike with your dog. Don’t forget to check out the pet-friendly Bunker Observation Tower and Bosarge Memorial Dog Park located at the top of Cheaha Mountain. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention a BigFoot named Sully lives there!

Get Going!

Whether you’re from Alabama and looking for some new adventures or traveling through the area and looking for a place to start, these are definitely our top picks for your travels with dogs. We love the scenery here in Alabama and the variety of waterfalls, solitude, and pawsome pet-friendly hikes make for the perfect vacation spot for you and your furry friends!

 

A dog mom and her Australian Shepherd and rat terrier dogs pose together on a hike in Alabama

Author

Blog author Candice Scott and her dog RosieCandice Scott, Rosie, & Sarah

Candice is an Alabama native. She works as a Marketing Director for a chiropractic clinic located in Huntsville. In her free time you can catch her hitting the trails alongside her two adventure dogs, Rosie and Sarah. They are always chasing the waterfalls and the views. You can follow along with their adventures on Instagram @ourhomewardbound.