Monte Sano State Park is located in north Alabama in the city of Huntsville. It provides a variety of hiking trails, camping, mountain views, and much more. In this guide I will be going over all the best things to do, best hiking trails to do with your family, places to visit, and more. I will also include our favorite places to go to around Huntsville, Alabama that are outside of Monte Sano State Park.
About Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville, also known as ‘Rocket City,’ is located in north Alabama. This beautiful growing city is filled with many things to do for the entire family. It offers a wide range of outdoor activities to do along with local restaurants, coffee shops, and pastry shops to visit. You can also find a good variety of museums that will fit everyone’s style. There are also many playgrounds and parks that are free to visit to take your kids too. I listed some of our favorite spots at the end of this guide that are outside of Monte Sano State Park in case you want to venture through Huntsville a little more.
About Monte Sano State Park
Monte Sano State Park is located on Monte Sano mountain in Huntsville, Alabama. The name Monte Sano is a Spanish name that means ‘mountain of health.’ This beautiful state park is a perfect place to visit for outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, wedding events, waterfalls, and stunning mountain overlooks.
This state park has a well established campground as well as a planetarium, hiking trails for all hiking experience levels, bike trails, and more. Best of all, it is only a short drive from downtown Huntsville where you can find a wide variety of restaurants, more parks, events, museums, and more. It’s a perfect place to set up camp at for a week or two and explore everything that the city has to offer.
Visiting Monte Sano State Park
I have visited Monte Sano State Park many times growing up. My family and I moved from Puerto Rico to Huntsville when I was 9 years old. Living so close, we were able to enjoy the park quiet often.
Since moving out and getting married, I had only visited the park one other time in the last 10 years and it was briefly to meet up with my dad during his camping trip for a few hours. However, this trip we made sure to explore more of the state park and what it had to offer.
It was very nice being able to bring my daughters to the same park I went to growing up. It’s a bittersweet feeling to say the least.
In this guide to Monte Sano State Park I will be sharing all of the details so you can learn how to plan a trip. I’ll be going over hikes, camping, playgrounds for the kids, overlooks, a beautiful waterfall, and so much more. Let’s get planning!
Hiking at Monte Sano State Park
Monte Sano provides a wide variety of hiking trails for all types of hikers. From families with little ones to experience long hikers that love to get those miles and elevation gain in their workout.
Many of these hiking trails can also be used for biking if you’re into that sport. It’s a great sport but make sure you have the right bike and gear. Don’t forget to follow the proper trail etiquette.
The Waterfall Hike
The very short hike that we took was at the playground area where you can walk down to a waterfall. Yes! A beautiful waterfall and easy enough for families to go down to view it from below. I had completely forgotten all about this waterfall.
We were taking pictures by the overlook above and I heard the water rushing down below. I knew there was a stream nearby but it sounded like a waterfall. When I saw a hiker come up and walk by us I immediately had to ask him, “Hey, Is there a waterfall down there?” He responded, “Yes! Just follow the trail around the pavilion.” I instantly got excited and gathered my family to rush down below.
I can’t believe I had forgotten all about this waterfall in Huntsville. There’s not a whole lot of waterfalls but this one is definitely a pretty one to see.
Monte Sano Hiking Trails
Besides this short little hike down, Monte Sano has many other hiking trails for you to choose from. Some of the kid friendly hiking trails I recommend you do are:
- North Plateau Loop – 1.9 miles (slightly more difficult than the ones listed below. I’m only mentioning this one because of the waterfall.) You can start this hike right by the pavilion where the waterfall is at. Just go through the park entrance and follow the sign for the playground that will be on your right. When you park walk pass the bathrooms towards the overlook. You will see a pavilion to your right and the trail will be to the right of that. You can also start this trail at the parking lot by the overlook close to the planetarium. Because it’s slightly more difficult, you can just go see the waterfall and do another hike instead.
- South Plateau Loop – 3.4 miles (Please note that it does get difficult in some areas).
- Bog Trail – 0.5 miles
- Bucca Family Trail – 2.6 miles
- Fire Tower Trail – 1.6 miles
- Japanese Tea Garden – This is more of a walk from the parking lot through a short wooded trail to the tea garden but it’s not extensive or long at all.
What to Pack for a Day Hike
- Comfortable sneakers or hiking shoes.
- Comfortable clothes.
- Water and a Hydro-flask or water bottle to keep your water cool.
- Snacks – I share some healthy snack ideas here.
- A hiking backpack to carry your items or a small pack.
- Don’t forget about the 10 essentials for hiking.
You don’t need much since these are mainly day hikes. Just pack accordingly. If you choose to do a longer hike then you can take a small camp stove to warm up some water for a dehydrated meal or even bring a sandwich or something else for lunch. Just make sure to plan ahead and stick to the hours of the trails.
Camping at Monte Sano State Park
Monte Sano State Park has a campground which makes a great place to go camping at. The park’s campground has 21 primitive campsites for tents only, 59 water & electric hook-up campsites, and 15 full hook-up campsites for you to choose from.
What to Pack for a Camping Trip
- Tent – I recommend this 4 person or 6 person tent
- Extra stakes
- Small ax
- Sleeping bags
- Sleeping pad
- Extra blanket
- Camping stove – We love this small camping stove by MSR Gear for long hikes and quick easy one pot meals. You can read my stove review here.
- Cooking utensils, plates, and eating utensils. I recommend this Stanley Adventure Base Camp Set.
- Camp Pots – I absolutely love the MSR Gear Wind Burner set. You can read my full review here.
- Clothes – pack accordingly.
This is a general packing list if you go camping but definitely pack according to the weather, your family size, and style of camping. I also went ahead and linked a detailed camp kitchen packing list below.
Monte Sano State Park Cabins
At Monte Sano State Park you can find 11 Civilian Conservation Corp stone cabins with their original build, working fireplace, and a porch that is screened in. These cabins were built back in the 1930’s. What makes these cabins worth the visit is the fact that they were built along a bluff line that rewards you with a breathtaking view of the valley below.
The Monte Sano Lodge
The Monte Sano lodge is more of an event building. It’s the perfect place to hold business meetings and even huge events such as weddings, vow renewals, and family reunions. It also overlooks the valley down below. However, it’s only for events, not really for outdoor recreation, but if you’re looking for a place to hold a big event at, then this is a good option for you.
Visiting the Wernher von Braun Planetarium at Monte Sank State Park
The Wernher von Braun Planetarium, also known as VBAS Planetarium, hold educational events and opportunities to learn about our galaxy. They have really great telescopes that you can look through to observe the beautiful universe after the planetarium program. I visited here once when I was little. They recently opened back up with limited seating up to 25 people so make sure to make your reservations ahead of time.
Other Things To Do at Monte Sano State Park
There are many fun things to do at Monte Sano State Park. Some other activities that you can do include:
- Disc Golf
- Mountain Biking
- Visit the Civilian Conservation Corp Museum and Memorial
- Take the kids to the playground
- Have a picnic at an overlook
- Star Gazing
Details About Monte Sano State Park
Location: 5105 Nolen Ave. Huntsville, AL 35801
Hours: Office Hours 7 days a week 8am-5:00pm Park Hours 8am-sunset (trails close 30 minutes before sunset)
Family Friendly Things to do Outside of Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville is a great place to come to experience many fun things with your family. When we visit a new city or even return to a destination we’ve been too before, we like to check out the local parks, hiking trails, museums, coffee shops, restaurants, and more. Below I’ve listed some of our favorites and some that have been recommended to us.
Local Parks in Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville has various local parks that you can visit as well. Here are a few of our family favorites to visit.
- Big Spring Park – Bring some change so you can feed the fish and the ducks at the lake.
- Bicentennial Park – There’s a splash pad at this park that’s perfect for kids during the summer.
- Brahan Spring Park – We love taking the kids to the splash pad here during our summer visits.
- Dublin Park – Located more towards Madison but still one of our favorite parks to go to when visiting the area of Huntsville, Alabama.
Hiking Trails in Huntsville, Alabama
There are many beautiful hiking trails in Huntsville, Alabama. Here are a few of our favorite family friendly hiking trails in the area.
- Wade Mountain Nature Preserve
- Green Mountain Nature Preserve – Alum Hollow Trail
- Green Mountain Nature Park Trail
- Blevins Gap Nature Preserve – hiking guide coming soon
- Land of Trust of North Alabama: Three Caves
- Burritt on the Mountain Nature Trails
Best Coffee and Pastry Shops to Visit Around Huntsville, Alabama
Pastry and Doughnut Shops
- Bigfoot’s Little Doughnuts – There doughnuts are amazing.
- Daylight Donuts
- Edgar’s Bakery
- The Moon Bakeshop
- L’Etoile Patiserrie
Museums Around Huntsville, Alabama
- Huntsville Botanical Garden
- U.S. Space and Rocket Center – travel guide coming soon
- Burritt on the Mountain Museum
- Huntsville Depot Museum
- EarlyWorks Children’s Museum
- Huntsville Museum of Art
- U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum
Monte Sano State Park is a great place to visit when traveling to Huntsville, Alabama. It’s a great outdoor destination that offers a great camping experience and beautiful hiking trails all around the Monte Sano mountain. The surrounding areas are also a great place to explore too.