Hikes,  Kid Friendly Hikes

The Three Caves Loop

The Three Caves Loop is an easy 0.26-mile loop trail near Huntsville, Alabama. The short hike leads you around the perimeter of The Three Caves, which were created when the area was a limestone mine. Along the trail, there are barrier gates to help people get a good view of the caves but keep them from falling. However, the entire loop is not gated off, so watch for some steep areas, especially around young children.

You cannot enter the caves due to falling rock. There are gates blocking entry. But it still offers an amazing view. Three Caves often has concerts and events held there.

This was my very first hike with my family when we moved to Huntsville. At the time, my boys were 2 and 4, and it was just perfect for them. We have now been back several times. It is a fairly simple loop that is well marked. The trail leads to two other trails, Water Line (.76 miles) and Alms House (1.76miles), which are a little more difficult.

The caves were not actually caves but a former limestone mine, originally called Hermitage Quarry. In 1945, Madison County leased the site to the Madison County Limestone Company. After the war, the demand for limestone increased. The quarry supplied the limestone that made many of Huntsville’s main streets and parking lots. To access higher-quality limestone, a mining method called “room and pillar” was used. This created the three cave-like openings we see today.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, officials designated it as a fallout shelter. The site also served as a filming location for movies (“The Ravagers’ and ‘What Waits Below”) and a music video by the rock group Kansas in the early 1980s.

The quarry was donated to The Land Trust of North Alabama in 1989. 80 additional acres were added to Monte Sano Nature Preserve. The Land Trust opened the caves to the public and gave tours. In 2006, rockfall issues were discovered and deemed hazardous for visitors, causing the caves to be closed to the public. However, they continue to be used for concerts and other Land Trust special events.

Information:

Location: 901 Kennamer Dr SE, Huntsville, AL 35801

Parking: Parking is in front of the trail head and plenty of it!

Difficulty: easy, though watch out for drop off spots around the perimeter.

Map: You can access the map here

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