The idea of a hike with my 2 year old had been floating around my head since the evening before, but I hadn’t made any preparations. That morning, I knew we’d struggle to beat the day’s heat, but I wanted to get those little boots on trail for an adventure. Grandma DeeDee was up for some exploring too, so we met at the Monte Sano Park Office to begin our journey. One of the nice things about Monte Sano’s North Plateau Loop is you can begin from several places around the park, but that is just the beginning of this trail’s convenience.
Within 100 or so yards of the trail there are two different restroom areas, a picnic area, and a playground making it the ideal trail for a family outing. If you don’t have the little ones, this trail still offers a fun hike as it passes over seasonal waterfalls, beautiful vistas, and North Alabama Birding Trail site #29. It is definitely a great hike for first time visitors to Monte Sano, or anyone hoping to learn more about what the park has to offer for future trips. This blue blazed path also traverses much of the park’s history from the original park entrance to historic cabins. The trail itself is an original feature of the park, and the stone walls and many of the facilities passed along the way were built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Core. Weekend hikers can take a break to visit the CCC Museum and learn more about the park’s rich history.
Another short detour can allow travelers to explore the Japanese Tea Garden located near the Park Office. This unique feature in the park has attracted thousands of visitors, and helped the City of Huntsville secure a “sister city” relationship with a city in Japan. Each spring and fall the garden’s developers host cultural events.
a hike that has something for everyone…
While the amenities beyond the path are a nice feature of the trail, the North Plateau Loop is a great hike on its own merits. At roughly 2 miles it packs a lot into the journey, and I’ve lead hikers from 1.5 to 87 years along this route. It does have rocky sections, abundant roots, and sandy areas, with a few short climbs or descents, but overall hikers of most experience levels can handle this trail well. Furthermore, since it is a loop that crosses a few paved paths it is a good trail for hikers and children still learning their limits. Travelers are never too far from a paved path back to their vehicle, a bathroom break, or a nice view to stop for a snack.
One last note about the North Plateau Loop is the ability to connect it with other trails. This trail intersects multiple other routes that lead off the plateau into the depths of the surrounding valleys for more challenging hikes, or travelers can extend their mileage without the climb along the plateau’s southern route or Fire Tower Trail. If you’re looking for a hike that has something for everyone, this is the one.
What to know?
- Be prepared with appropriate clothing, footwear, water, snacks and other essentials
- Tell someone your plan, and hike with a buddy
- Know your limits, and those of your children and pets
- Follow all park rules, such as keeping your pet on a leash, and Leave No Trace principles
- For more tips on preparing for a hike read Planning Your First Hike
- Visit Monte Sano State Park to plan your trip
- Consider annual membership to the Monte Sano State Park to support park conservation (available for families, seniors, and individuals)
Let us guide you on a private adventure or group hike. Contact ButterflyOutdoors@gmail.com for rates and more information.
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