Scottsboro is a small city in Northeastern Alabama where the mountains meet the water. Just imagine the awesome things to do in Scottsboro with a combination of watersports and mountain activities. We even have a couple of urban things to do in Scottsboro to round out your trip.
The mountains are part of the Cumberland Plateau on the southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains. The geology here is slightly different from other portions of the range, making for bountiful caves and karst formations.
The water is Lake Guntersville, Alabama’s largest lake known for trophy bass and bald eagles. You’ll also find free-flowing rivers and cascading mountain streams.
Come along and discover all of the fun things to do in Scottsboro for an adventurous weekend getaway to remember.
Map of Things to do in Scottsboro Al
Below is our map of things to do in Scottsboro, Alabama. It has all the activities from this guide, so you can best plan your weekend getaway. If the map doesn’t load, just hit the refresh button. It’s coming. Trust us 😉.
Stay in Jackson County Park
Jackson County Park might be the best vacation value you haven’t heard about. First off, there’s location, location, location. It’s only a mile off of Highway 72, near the intersection with 279. So you can access all of the fun in the park and eat at all the yummy local favorites like Toros Cantina, which garners hundreds of five-star reviews. It’s also right on the water, so you can get out and explore Lake Guntersville from their full-service marina, including overnight slips, ramps, and even boat rentals.
What sets Jackson County Park apart is its exceptional rental cabins. These two-bedroom / one-bath waterfront beauties sleep ten adults and come with a full kitchen. They’re also less than five years old, so they come with modern amenities like plasma TVs in every room. You get all of this for $140/night in season, $100/night during the winter. There are minimum stay requirements and a small cleaning fee, but it’s an unbelievable price for everything they offer!
Enjoy Waterfront Dining
It should come as no surprise that a 75-mile long lake will have its share of waterfront dining. You can boat-in or drive to most of these options, but we’ll start with one that’s walking distance from your cabin at Jackson County Park. KC’s Bar-B-Q is an unassuming eatery with an outstanding view. If you love downhome goodness, this is the place for you.
The Docks at Goose Pond Colony is a rung up on the culinary ladder, with shrimp and grits that taste as good as the panoramic views of Lake Guntersville and fried catfish to write home about. On the subject of writing about fried catfish, the fried catfish at Top O’ The River in Guntersville made the list of 100 Dishes You Have to Eat in Alabama Before You Die. Best of all, you can eat it bayside. There are many other waterfront dining options, so you can make it a quest to eat at every one of them, and get bonus points if you do it by boat.
Play on Lake Guntersville
The 75-mile long Lake Guntersville has 108 square miles of surface area, making it the largest lake in Alabama. That’s even larger than the 69-square mile Lake Martin, which at one time was the largest man-made lake in the world. It’s a laid-back lake with plenty of back bays to cast a line or float away the afternoon.
Apart from boating, Lake Guntersville has two truly spectacular wildlife opportunities. First off, it’s one of the best spots in Alabama to see bald eagles, particularly around Lake Guntersville State Park, where breeding pairs were reintroduced in the mid-80s.
Lake Guntersville is also a fishing hotbed, notably Guntersville’s ‘Miracle Mile’ around Goose Pond Colony. The abundance of trophy bass in this area, including the big bays formed by the Sauty, Mink, and Roseberry Creeks, puzzled naturalists. They weren’t distinctively different from other lake areas but received more fishing pressure than remote bays. However, it might just be the anglers themselves that created this fishy phenomenon. Lake Guntersville hosts many fishing tournaments like B.A.S.S. Elite and FLW Major. Often the check-ins are at the Goose Pond Colony docks, where the fish are released after weigh-in. A single tournament could easily bring 250 quality bass back to the dock. Like the eagles at the state park, the fish are free to roam but often don’t go far.
Visit Lake Guntersville State Park
Lake Guntersville State Park spans the shoreline between the mouths of Town Creek and Short Creek. It’s near the southern end of the lake by the dam and the town of Guntersville. It’s a fantastic access spot for all kinds of watersports on that end of the lake. It hosts some excellent land activities too.
Thirty-six miles of trail extend through the park providing hikers and mountain bikers a variety of recreation activities ranging from easy to intense. There are also a highly rated zip-line and golf course. You can also use the park to rest between adventures on the balcony at the park lodge and look for eagles soaring over the lake.
Kayak Coon Bay
Coon Bay, where Racoon Creek enters Lake Guntersville, is located just below the Rt 117 Bridge on the east side of the river. There’s a public ramp at the end of County Road 491 that doesn’t appear on the map, which you can use to access the mile-wide bay.
With so many backwater paddling opportunities at the lake, why would you choose this one? Because you’ll have a chance to kayak into three caves here. They are located in small inlets on the bay’s south side, so you’re looking at a minimum three-mile paddle to see the caves. Bain, the middle cave, is the deepest of the three, with about 30′ of water passage before it gets too narrow to proceed. If you’re looking for a guided trip, North Alabama Paddling Adventures periodically runs trips here with rental kayaks available.
Float Paint Rock River
Karst topology creates more than caves. It can create azure blue waterways as mineral-rich water seeps from the rock. Paint Rock River isn’t nearly as blue as Havasu Creek in the Grand Canyon, but you can see the namesake color, especially on the upper Paint. Paint Rock Canoe and Kayak Rental offers rentals and shuttles on the middle Paint where the river crosses US-72. A paddling trip on the Paint Rock River is a beautiful way to escape into nature.
Tour the North Alabama Waterfall Trail
This section is the point where our guide of Scottsboro attractions transitions between water activities and mountain activities. Do you know what they call that point in nature? A waterfall. Not surprisingly, the land where the mountains meet the water has its share of waterfalls.
We created an entire waterfall road trip guide, but here are some of the highlights. High Falls is a dramatic, high-volume waterfall just up from Lake Guntersville State Park. De Soto Falls is in De Soto State Park and is a picture-perfect spot for fall photography. Little River Falls has the highest volume of water flow of any of these falls and sits at the start of the picturesque Little River Canyon. Long story short, whether you are going to only a single waterfall or trying to see them all, make sure you bring your camera.
Take a Hike
Some of Scottsboro’s bests waterfalls can’t be seen on a road trip. You’ll have to pack your hiking boots (and a camera) to see these beauties. The Walls of Jericho is perhaps the most famous hike in North Alabama. It shows up on the list of Alabama’s 20 nature wonders (along with De Soto Falls and Little River Canyon), and the signage starts at US-72, about 25-miles from the trailhead. It’s a moderate hike to a steep canyon with waterfalls flowing in from all sides. Bethel Springs Nature Preserve is a closer and easier hike, where a dramatic waterfall cascades 80′ down a sheer cliff and disappears into a cave.
Other hikes around Scottsboro aren’t to waterfalls at all. The Pinnacle is a karst outcropping on a hilltop overlooking Lake Guntersville with some of the best views in the county.
Descend into the Earth at Cathedral Caverns
You’ll need more than cars and boots to see every waterfall in North Alabama. For one of the most beautiful falls around, you’ll need to descend into the earth at Cathedral Caverns State Park. Here you’ll find the frozen waterfall, a cascade created by limestone deposited over many centuries. You’ll also see Goliath, one of the largest stalactites in the world, and an extensive stalactite forest.
The cave has arguably the most massive entrances of any commercial cave. Mists fill the 125′ gaping chasm as you descend into the earth for a 90-minute tour into the unknown. Our group had everybody from a grandma riding a golf cart to kids who couldn’t wait to get outside and “mine” for gems at the gift shop. Even though it’s accessible, it’s still loads of good, clean fun.
Step Back in Time at Russell Cave
Russell Cave is an archeological site that tells the story of prehistoric life in the Southeast. It’s not far off Hwy 72, just before you cross into Tennessee. If you happen to be up that way, it’s worth stopping by for the short nature hike on the boardwalk and a beautiful view of the large shelter cave. However, if you’re a history buff, you have to visit Russell Cave.
History will come alive before your eyes with the interactive exhibits on the grounds and the ancient hunting demonstrations by the rangers. By the time you reach the cave, you could imagine yourself returning to the clan after a great hunt. Signs at the entrance tell the tale of archeologists uncovering numerous artifacts and piecing together 10,000 years of human residency.
Shop Unclaimed Baggage
Russell Cave gave scientists a look at tools and treasures left behind for reasons unknown. A modern anthropologist might ask questions like, what happens to your luggage when it gets lost on an airplane. Ph.D. level bargain hunters know that every one of those bags ends up in Scottsboro, Alabama. The Unclaimed Baggage is the nation’s only retailer of lost luggage and its contents.
It’s a store where shopping truly is an adventure, and you never know what you’re going to find. Displays showcase some of the most exciting finds, like suits of armor or giant horns. You’re only sure to find one thing, great prices.
Wrapping The Guide to Fun Things to Do in Scottsboro
Scottsboro, Alabama, is an outdoor adventurer’s dream because there’s so much diversity. From mountains to rivers, coves to caves, there’s always something to do in nature. However, the town holds many more surprises.
From the one-and-only Unclaimed Bagged Center to waterfront dining, you’ll find more than you expected in Northeast Alabama. What’s more, all of this comes at a very reasonable price point, so you can afford to keep coming back and finding new adventures. We live just up the road in Huntsville, and it seems like there’s always something new and unexpected popping up and drawing us back down the road to Scottsboro.
As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.
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