by Erin Burke
North Alabama is full of hikes and trails the whole family can enjoy, and the city of Madison is no exception. From paved greenways where one can enjoy walking and biking to kid-friendly hiking trails on Rainbow Mountain, our small city has plenty of opportunities for you and your family to get outdoors.
Greenways in Madison, Alabama
Mill Creek Greenway is a 1-mile paved path that runs north from the intersection of Mill Road and Balch Road along Mill Creek to Browns Ferry Road. Parking lots can be found at both ends. This greenway also features a dog park near Browns Ferry Road. Currently, there are plans to expand Mill Creek Greenway north across Browns Ferry Road.
Bradford Creek Greenway is a 2.5-mile paved path that runs from Palmer Park to Heritage Elementary School. There is parking at Palmer Park, on Mill Road, and at the north end of Heritage Elementary.
Indian Creek Greenway is located near Research Park along Indian Creek. It is a 2-mile paved trail that runs from Old Madison Pike to Creekwood Park. There are parking areas off of Old Madison Pike and at Creekwood Park. There are future plans to expand Indian Creek Greenway north to Hwy 72, making it a 6-mile long path.
Hike Rainbow Mountain
Rainbow Mountain is a part of the North Alabama Land Trust and has a variety of hiking trails, from easy to more challenging. All trails start from Stoneridge Trail and usually intersect at some point with the Rainbow Mountain Loop Trail. See the Rainbow Mountain Trail map here.
The parking for Rainbow Mountain is located toward the end of Stoneway Trail at the top of Rainbow Mountain.
Most of the Rainbow Mountain hiking trails are family-friendly. Sticking to the trails at the top of the mountain, such as Stoneridge Trail, Balance Rock Trail, and the upper portions of the Rainbow Mountain Loop Trail, are easier with less incline.
The longer trails on Rainbow Mountain, such as the full Rainbow Mountain Loop Trail and Spring Trail have steeper inclines. They are still kid-friendly for kids who are experienced hikers, but know your child’s abilities before you go.
There is also a small playground at the beginning of the hiking trails for kids to enjoy.
Beaverdam Swamp Boardwalk
The Beaverdam Swamp Boardwalk is a fun family hike located on Old Highway 20 west of County Line Road and south of I-565. Part of the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, the trail is a 1/2-mile trail (totaling 1-mile in and out) that is partially a gravel path and partially a boardwalk. The entire path is flat, making it a great hike for family members of all ages.
The boardwalk takes visitors over a swamp of tupelo trees, making it a great spot to see some native North Alabama wildlife. When it hasn’t rained recently, the swamp occasionally dries up. So if you want to be sure to see it with water, go after a big rain.
Also, be sure to bring some bug spray!
A few family hiking tips:
- Be prepared with snacks, water, sunscreen, and bug spray.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Know the trail you plan to take before you go. Sometimes cell phone signals can be hard to get on hiking trails, so make sure you know where you are going ahead of time.
- Be aware of your surroundings. You are sharing the space with wildlife, so be conscious of the presence of other animals.
We hope you get out and enjoy these wonderful trails in Madison!
About the author: Erin Burke is a freelance writer and a Huntsville/Madison native. She lives in Madison with her husband and daughter. You can read more of her travel writing on her website Flying Off the Bookshelf.