Walking the thirty-two miles of sugar-white sand beaches
is a start, but don't stop there. The parks and recreation trails of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offer everyone from hikers to casual walkers the opportunity to explore the abundant natural beauty and wildlife of this paradise by the water. Each of our parks are noted not only for their natural beauty and wide range of nature, but also for their accessibility (and parking!) for those of all ages. Here are a few of our favorite parks for nature hiking and backcountry experiences:
Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail and Gulf State Park
With twenty-five miles of walking and hiking trails, Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail
takes you through six separate ecosystems. Located within the boundaries of Gulf State Park
, it spans the region from Gulf Shores to Orange Beach. From flat pine woods to coastal hardwood swamps, you’ll find a wondrous diversity of plant and animal life. You might even run across Lefty the Alligator or one of his cousins basking in the sun, so take along a camera.
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
With a network of hiking trails, the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge provides a look into the natural habitat of regional plants and animals. Explore the seasonal homes of migrating songbirds. Catch a glimpse of endangered species like sea turtles and the Alabama sea mouse. Available guided walks combine education with the park's astounding natural beauty.
Wade Ward Nature Park
Wade Ward Nature Park
's boardwalk trail allows you to explore this unique wetlands ecosystem up close. Connecting Little Lagoon with Lake Shelby
, the park is home to diverse wildlife, including otters, pelicans and alligators. Wherever you choose to explore, whichever path you hike, the beauty of the coastal Alabama backcountry will fill you with awe.
Outdoor History Sites
If you're looking for a historic angle on your outdoor adventure, tour Fort Morgan
. This AL state historic site was used to protect Mobile Bay
during the Civil War, it remained in service until after World War II. Another popular site is the Historic Oakleigh House Museum
, which provides a look into the daily life of another era.
Continuously in use for more than a hundred and eighty years, the Greek Revival house is a superb example of historic preservation.
Combine history with nature as you visit Historic Blakely Park State Park
on the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. Part of Alabama's Coastal Scenic Connection Byway
, the park’s ten miles of boardwalk trails allow you to explore nature and the history of the region. Sightings of eagles, black bears and alligators are a bonus that you won’t find at many historic sites.
Winding through Mobile and Baldwin counties, the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail
is a genuine bird watcher’s paradise. Fifty birding sites along the trails and an abundance of perennial and migrating bird residents offer unparalleled viewing opportunities. You'll see a multitude of Gulf Coast bird
species from Peregrine falcons to colorful songbirds and waterfowl of every description. It will take more than one visit to see it all, so plan to spend some time here.
So Much to Explore
Take a casual walk through a live oak forest or lace up your boots and do some backcountry hiking. See Coastal Alabama's abundant plants and animals in their natural environment. The trails and parks of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offer so much to explore and so many adventures you may not know where to begin, but we can help with that. Request a Gulf Shores Nature Guide
, which includes information about area nature attractions, trail maps and more, and plan your vacation
to Alabama's Gulf Coast today.