And, Monte Sano State Park is located only 2 miles outside of Alabama’s largest city, Huntsville.
During the late 1800s visitors would arrive by train for ‘the season’ and take in the fresh air, gorgeous panoramic views and the curative mineral springs on the mountaintop.
Today Monte Sano State Park still delights visitors wishing to escape from their busy lives for a bit of fresh air and adventure.
This Alabama state park has miles of hiking and biking trails, a campground and cabins, a Planetarium, a Japanese Garden and spectacular views of the mountain and busy city below it.
Monte Sano State Park was established and built during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
They built cabins, a lodge, an amphitheater and created many of the trails still used today.
You can learn more about their hard work and efforts at the CCC Museum & Memorial located inside of the park.
Plan your visit to include camping out under the stars as a perfect way to end a full day of exploring the mountainside.
Here are some of the activities that you’ll find at Monte Sano State Park:
Trails at Monte Sano State Park
Scenic overlooks of the Tennessee Valley, mountains and bustling city below await you on the 20 miles of hiking trails and 14 miles of biking trails at Monte Sano State Park.
Another 23 miles of trails lie nearby in the adjoining Monte Sano Nature Preserve.
Most of the trail system is considered moderate to difficult because of the steep climb up the mountain.
However, the popular North Plateau Loop does contain an easy 2 mile section before it accesses these harder trails.
Here are a couple of the more popular trails:
- Sinks Trail to Stone Cuts Trail – A moderate 2.9 mile trail through forest and wildflowers that leads to the enormous rock formations known as the Stone Cuts. This trail is best between March and October and is ideal for both hikers and mountain bikers.
- Mountain Mist to Stone Cuts – Another moderate trail leading to the spectacular Stone Cuts but longer at 4.6 miles.
- McKay Hollow – 4.7 mile moderate hiking trail.
Stone Cuts at Monte Sano State Park
The popular Stone Cuts are the striking rock walls and caves created and formed by nature over many years.
These dramatic cuts in the limestone are part of the ridgeline on the mountaintop (the southernmost tip of the Appalachian Mountain chain).
The Stone Cuts section of the trail system is more difficult to navigate and you will need to follow other trails to access it.
Japanese Garden at Monte Sano State Park
In 1988 Mr Robert Black created a Japanese Garden inside of the park.
It started as a hobby and as something fun to do with his children.
It gradually grew into something more and in 1991 a Tea House was added.
Since 1992 Japanese Spring Fest has been held annually in this picturesque garden atop the mountain.
Each year (on the first Sunday in May and the first Sunday in October) a tea ceremony, dancing and music celebrates Japanese culture and the beauty of these seasons.
It’s a perfect spot to birdwatch, among the azaleas and Japanese Maples.
Planetarium at Monte Sano State Park
Huntsville is nicknamed the ‘Rocket City’ so it should come as no surprise that there would be a planetarium on the mountaintop above it.
The Wernher Von Braun Planetarium has 2 observatories, an astronomical library, telescopes and a planetarium.
Disc Golf at Monte Sano State Park
This 18 hole course is considered the nicest one in the state and also includes a shorter 8 hole course along the main course.
Wildlife at Monte Sano State Park
A couple of interesting examples that have been sighted here are the Indigo Bunting, the Great Crested Flycatcher and the Red-eyed Vireo.
As far as other signs of wildlife…don’t be surprised if you see a goat or two. There are feral goats living on the mountain that have escaped from nearby farms.
Other animals you’re likely to see are rabbits, deer, squirrels and opossum.
Weddings at Monte Sano State Park
The beautiful scenery on the mountain creates a picturesque spot for weddings and other special events.
Choose your ideal location – in one of the many pavilions, the amphitheater or at the Lodge.
The Monte Santo Lodge was originally built by the CCC in the late 1930s but sadly it burned in 1948.
The current lodge was built in 2006 and designed to match the historic CCC structures inside of the park.
This rustic lodge is beautifully furnished and contains a large lobby area, a large and small meeting room and a terrace with views of the bluff.
Camping at Monte Sano State Park
You’ll find both modern and primitive campsites at this wooded mountainside park plus 14 rustic cabins, 2 bathhouses, a coin operated laundry facility, a camp store and a playground.
There are 89 improved campsites, 59 with electric and water hookups and another 15 with full hookups (electric, water and sewer).
The 21 primitive campsites nearby are tent only. Each campsite in the park has its own firepit.
The rustic cabins situated on the mountainside have spectacular views of the valley and surrounding Monte Sano Mountain.
11 of the 14 cabins are original to the park and built during the 1930s by the CCC.
Each cabin has a kitchen, bath, fireplace, cable tv, porch, outdoor grill and picnic table.
Pets at Monte Sano State Park
Pets must be leashed. Some of the cabins are dog friendly, inquire when making reservations.
Attractions Near Monte Sano State Park
Love plants, flowers and butterflies? Then you should checkout Huntsville Botanical Gardens.
Monte Sano State Park
5105 Nolen Ave
Huntsville, AL 35801
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Monte Sano State Park: