Hike to Stephens Gap

Alabama Stephens Gap Trailhead

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    2 Miles

Scenic
Waterfall

Short and easy hike to a huge 150ft cave with a waterfall. Stephens Gap is an unreal experience and a must-see hidden gem in Alabama.

The hike is 2 miles round trip. It starts from the open space where you park. (Details on where to park when you email in the permit). There is a sign labeled as the trailhead. Trail is easily visible, but just in case you can't follow it, they have marked it with yellow flags on trees. The trail and area was recently purchased by the SCCI and is still being worked on.

There are two entrances into the cave - A walk down entrance and an entrance to rappel. The cave can be very wet and slippery and the walk down entrance can be pretty steep so watch your step. The cave features a natural pedestal to stand on which is great for pictures and is also a great spot to rappel onto. There is about a 30ft drop off the backside of the pedestal so be careful getting up and down. The cave can be very loud if water is flowing.

For rappelling directly onto the pedestal, there is a keyhole that if you rappel into, will drop you directly onto the pedestal. The keyhole is a small hole on the upper side of the pit.

Pack List

To hike to Stephens Gap it is necessary to have the following:

  • The required permits and paperwork Instructions Here
  • A good pair of hiking shoes with good tread
  • Clothes that you expect to get muddy
  • A camera
  • Headlamp (Can be very dark)
  • Towels for the trip home
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Reviews

Overall rating: 

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This place is absolutely beautiful. We got a permit and signed waivers a few days in advance. We were the only people there on a week day. We had the place all to ourselves and it was magical. We went after a week of heavy rain which including the night before our arrival. This made the trail very slippery. What would typically be an easy hike, was more difficult because of the slippery conditions. The water was rushing through the cave today and literally every inch of the place was soaking wet. I loved seeing it this way! Additionally, I wouldn't bring children.

3 months ago
3 months ago

Stephens Gap cave was my first caving experience in Alabama and it was simply incredible. The hike to the entrance of the cave was a decent workout considering the short distance that it covered. The steep path down into the cave is super slippery and my friend actually fell pretty hard, but was lucky to not get hurt. Be sure to wear good shoes (hiking boots are best) and just take each step cautiously. It helps to have free hands too. Once down at the bottom of the cave, it is possible to take in the scale of the large room. The roof towers about 40-50 feet overhead and the waterfall plunges about 70 feet down to a lower section of the cavern below. The light is best around mid-day, and you can get some incredible sun-rays which Edward Day did a great job of capturing in this adventure. There is also a campsite near the mouth of the cave which looked spacious enough for a 2-3 person tent. Although I completely skipped over the hike to the cave, it is beautiful in its own right too. You hike up a narrow valley that is full of shade and wildflowers in the summer. Definitely enjoyed this adventure and I am already planning on coming back with more friends.

3 months ago
3 months ago

Not only does this cave make for a great adventure in and of itself, since you can hike into it and explore the main cavern without need for repelling gear. But if you do want to rappel not only can you rappel into the main cavern but the land owner informed me that there is a way to do a 3 leveled "pull down" rappel over several waterfalls that finishes with you ending in the main cavern so you can walk right out when you are done! Definitely plan on going back one day for that! (Oh and I would advise bringing a headlamp, you won't need it for most of your time in the cave unless it gets super cloudy, but if you want to explore the cavern just a bit a headlamp is definitely helpful.

5 months ago
5 months ago

This is certainly a hidden gem. It's one of those places that you wonder how it is real. It's not difficult to hike to or travel down into the cave. Trail notes are spot on. Definitely get a permit.

5 months ago
5 months ago

I went to Stephen's Gap in 2014 when it did not require a permit and did not have a detailed map. I found the coordinates from a hikers blog and started from there. My boyfriend, my sister and I parked the car on the side of the road and went up the gravel road to this rock quarry. We were suppose to take a left where we would have seen a sign for the trail head. Instead we took a right and ended up climbing all the way up and over till we finally found the cave over on the left side of the mountain. The cave itself was surreal I would defiantly go back. Thankfully we saw the trail on our way back. It was a much less strenuous hike back then the hike there.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

The hike in was very easy and nice. If you do not have or plan in doing any repelling then plan on a short adventure. Once we got into the cave we realized that was far as we were going to be able to go. We couldn't get to the very bottom to go explore the caverns so we settled to take a few photos and explore outside. It was still with the drive from Atlanta but was under the impression we were going to go further in. If you go with the expectation of a short hike and some scenic photos you will dig it.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Beautiful area. Relatively easy hike to the gap. The drive from Birmingham is really nice. Try and get the permit at least a day in advance.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Edward DayExplorer

Explorer. I like going places with my camera.

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