Stephens Gap Cave Trail is a 1.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Paint Rock, Alabama that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
1.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
239 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

cave

forest

waterfall

rocky

The Stephens Gap Cave Trail requires a permit before visiting. The permits are free and can be obtained at: https://permits.scci.org/ Please note permits can up to 2 days before approval.

hiking
11 days ago

Love Stephen's Gap. Never disappoints!!

hiking
2 months ago

Moderate hike to the cave but rather narrow at times. I wouldn’t want to take small children. Inside the cave was very slick. Be sure to have good shoes, flashlight or headlamp. Beautiful site!

3 months ago

Bugs were bad but well worth the fight to get to cave. VERY BEAUTIFUL!!! Make sure and get your permit and gate passcode ahead of time. Could not get signal at gate had to drive east to Limrock to get a signal. Well worth the trouble though

hiking
4 months ago

Contrary to some posts this is a kid friendly hike, IF you’ve prepared and purchased actual hiking boots. Kids in sneakers just won’t make it. My husband and i took our 6 year old and he loved it (this was his third hike and the most intense). There were a few muddy/slippery spots but that’s to be expected. We were also able to hike down into the cave (wet rocks and mud) and our son had no issues, we loved it!

Make sure you bring your bug spray though! We forgot and the mosquitoes were in full effect.

You need to get a permit for everyone on the hike, they’re free and have the access code to the gate you need for entry.

hiking
4 months ago

We hiked this trail in April 2018, the weather was decent, there’s alot of tree cover. This trail is NOT kid-friendly. When ascending the zig-zag ledges to reach the cave, our small
children (2yo and 4yo) had a very difficult time climbing and finding footholds.

There are endless opportunities for children to lose there balance, tumble off the side of the ledge, and fall to their death to the dry creek bed full of boulders and rocks. This trail would be great for older kids (10yo+) who are experienced and mindful of their trail placement. With our young children, it was a constant, fidgety nightmare of saving their lives from eminent peril.

Why continue you may ask? We were told that this trail was “easy” and “kid-friendly” by a family member. So we forged forward thinking the trail would ease up, and it did once you reached the same plateau as the cave. We also could not scale down into the serenity of the cave because it was far too steep and slippery for the children to manage.’

hiking
5 months ago

This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to! It’s a short hike out and back but I would rate this on a moderate level of difficulty due to the inclines and slick trails. Trail heads are clearly marked and it’s immaculately clean/well kept. Permit is easy to obtain and the guys who issue them are super quick to respond and very friendly. I went once in early April ‘18 and back again the following month. The trail holds water pretty well, be sure to bring some good hiking boots and prepare yourself to get a little wet/dirty. When I first went in April, it was still fairly cool so the vegetation was light. I went back about 2 or 3 weeks later after the first real warm up of the spring season and boy did it change! Super lush! Vegetation brings the critters, so pack some deep woods insect repellent. Definitely have a headlamp just in case, it can get dark in some spaces. After a rain, the cave is very wet, but manageable if you stay smart and watch your step. I spent probably 1.5 hrs inside the cave each time, there is such much to see and soak in! There are two waterfalls on either side of the cave, both beautiful and very unique in their own way. Heed warning on the left side....me and a friend did some “off trail” hiking above that waterfall and there were a couple of scary moments. There is a spot for camping on the right side above the cave entrance. It's extremely primitive though, just a heads up. If you’ve never been, I would advise bringing a buddy with you the first time. It’s an incredible spot to share anyway. The most ideal time to go would be fall or early spring. I can’t wait to go back! Really enjoyed both trips and it will forever hold a special place in my heart!

6 months ago

I love this trail!! It's so beautiful! It isn't easy though more like moderate.

7 months ago

AH-MAZ-ING hike! I would rate it between easy and moderate. A lot of rocks and a good leg workout. Mostly uphill on the way in and downhill on the way out.
Path clear, easy to read and folks on trail are SO nice.
When you get to the end, you can go to the top of the waterfall or explore the waterfall inside the cave (off to the left).
*UPDATE: Hiked this for the second time today. If you plan in hiking this trail, you will need the pass code to get in! You can find the website and phone number on the sign posted. If you do not have the code, you WILL NOT get in. This is posted as private property and there are cameras. SO worth it! You MUST explore the cave while you are there!!!
AND PLEASE..... IF YOU HAVE DOGS, TAKE POOP BAGS AND PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG.

hiking
8 months ago

This trail is amazing. Definitely bring your hiking boots. I would also rate this as more moderate. It is definitely not for everyone. I went after a rain storm. The cave was beautiful and glowing with lots of water but was extremely slippery. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful.

8 months ago

I gave this a good review because of the vertical pit in the area. I have not seen a trail anywhere labeled as Stephens gap. but there is a nice cave back there. But people need to be careful or they could fall over 100 feet onto nothing but breakdown and boulders. It's a decent walk back to it.

8 months ago

great place to spend day exploring and relaxing. Rocky and slippery but awesome

hiking
9 months ago

More direct link for permit online. ^^; https://permits.scci.org/

10 months ago

Beautiful trail but leans toward the moderate side if you’re not real sure footed. Cave and sink hole were fantastic!

11 months ago

Great hike with a nice reward. Very hard to find, print your directions before you go, cell service is non-existent.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Does anybody know the best time of day this time of year to get photos inside the cave on the pedestal?

hiking
Sunday, October 01, 2017

Stunning view from inside the cave. Great for spelunking. Get your permit from SCCi.org first.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

did this trail back in May , nice trail watch out for ticks.......ugghhh...... rappeled the cave 145ish feet.......almost all vertical........met some cool locals.....thanks for letting me use your ropes........! make sure you got your permits......you need them to rap the cave......"scci"

hiking
Friday, July 07, 2017

Best time to see a waterfall is when the water is flowing. However most of the "trail" here is simply bare earth/rock where water channelizes to flow down to the creek. If you're gonna do this trail, BRING DRY SHOES TO CHANGE INTO. It rained on us while we were there and we walked through flowing water the majority of the time. There are also some creek crossings you will have to do. The trail is marked with yellow blazes. They're pretty easy to spot but the lower portion of the trail could be marked a little better. There's some tape on tree branches that help but there are so many little flow ways that look like channels that we took the wrong route once or twice. We saw some pink flags leading us up the hillside when we got close to the cave/waterfall and then caught back up with the yellow blazes.

The waterfall and cave is very cool. If you're looking at the waterfall, the cave entrance is to your left. It is fairly easy to climb down. It is mostly rock though and they can get pretty slippery when wet. The view from the pedestal inside the cave is cool but the climb down is a little risky, ESPECIALLY when there is water flowing over the rocks. If you're gonna do it, make sure you have a buddy help you up/down. It isn't worth falling to your death. Look for rocks to hold onto as well when you climb to/from the pedestal.

This is a great hike. Short, easy, and the cave/waterfall are totally worth it. Kids would love it but be careful with them. I wish I could give it 4.5 stars but I can't do I will give it 4 stars because of what I mentioned above.

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