Haylee Smith


Hugh Hendricks


Axl Buchheit

Three trails in the Tuscaloosa and Northport areas that are perfect for year-round enjoyment.

Studies have shown a connection between sunlight and the production of serotonin—a neurotransmitter associated with mood, cognition, reward, and numerous other biological processes. Limited sunlight can cause a dip in this neurotransmitter, leading to heightened depressive moods and anxiety. Mental health is an important matter, especially for a college student that already has enough to worry about as it is. Getting outside for a few hours a week is an easy (and fun!) goal to achieve, with more significant ramifications than you might have originally believed!

But where to go? There are tons of choices for getting outside on The University of Alabama’s campus. We’ve all taken a walk around the quad,  enjoyed some window shopping downtown, and bounced from bar to bar on the strip, but these are only some of the ways  to get fresh air in the Tuscaoola and Northport areas!. For instance, have you checked out the hiking trails around town? They provide students with new places to catch up on homework, walk their dog, and enjoy some beautiful views of Alabama’s forests and river systems. 

We’ve compiled three of the most interesting places around town for you to check out as the weather improves over the next few weeks. Get out, get some exercise and enjoy the sunshine!

Tuscaloosa Riverwalk

Tuscaloosa Riverwalk

Located just off campus, the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk offers a quality paved trail which stretches 4.5 miles along the Black Warrior River. The Riverwalk is pet and bike friendly, has a playground, a public restroom, and offers many places to set up a hammock and enjoy a nap! Pro Tip: The trail winds past the Tuscaloosa River Market, which on Saturdays, hosts a local farmers market from 7AM-12PM. Get some exercise and snatch some fresh produce all in one trip.

Open: 24 hours

Price: Free

Distance from Student Center: 0.7 miles (easily walkable)

Length: 4.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy (paved)

Pet-Friendly: Yes

Bike-Friendly: Yes

Facilities: Restrooms, water fountains, playground, plenty of benches, well-lit

The University of Alabama Arboretum

The University of Alabama Arboretum was created to promote conservation and public education. It houses numerous walking trails, along which you can find informational plaques about local plant life and nature-centric learning opportunities for children. The park is home to wildflower, community and children’s gardens. While the trail is not bike friendly, leashed pets are welcome. Marked with names at every intersection, the trails tend to snake and criss-cross multiple times, making navigation a little confusing. 

Open: 8AM-Sunset every day (Closed New Years’ Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas)

Price: Free(donations appreciated)

Distance from Student Center: 6.8 miles

Length: Various  lengths, most loop around to parking

Difficulty: Easy

Pet-Friendly: Yes, must be on leash

Bike-Friendly: No

Facilities: Restrooms, pavilion with picnic tables, community garden, amphitheater

The University of Alabama Arboretum

Lake Lurleen State Park

Lake Lurleen State Park

As the name suggests, Lake Lurleen State Park is situated on the banks of Lake Lurleen. In addition to gorgeous hiking and biking trails, it offers camping spots for both tents and RVs, water access for fishing and boating, and recreational areas for picnics and playgrounds. There are seven trails of various lengths and difficulties to choose from; ranging from the 0.4 mile McFarland Trail to the 11 mile Tashka Trail that circles the entire lake. Experienced hikers, or ambitious go-getters, can even hike all of the connecting trails which join   together to make a 23.5 mile hike! 

I personally hiked the Ridge Loop, a beautiful 4 mile trail through the woods, up hills and around valleys. With many overhanging trees, it’s likely very shady in the summer, providing for a comfortable hiking experience even in the heat. The trails are all color-coded with either half-mile or mile markers, and signage for potential hazards like small bridges, sharp turns or steep hills. Cellphone service may be spotty on the trails, so the park recommends hikers tell a responsible, non-hiking party where they plan to go and when they plan to be back. This was my favorite of all the places I checked out, even though it is one of the farthest away. It is well worth the twenty-ish minute drive for some peace and quiet. 

Open: 7AM-Sunset every day

Price: $5.00/adult, $2.00/child or senior

Distance from Student Center: 13 miles

Length: Various lengths, though some are only accessible via the Tashka Trail, so you must add their lengths to the length it takes to get to them

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Pet-Friendly: Yes, leashed

Bike-Friendly: Yes, mountain bikes only

Facilities: Restrooms at campground, playgrounds, pavilions with picnic tables, boat rentals, camping, beach area with bathhouse, fishing piers, nature center