STEPHENS GAP, AL
Cool off with natural AC on this easy dayhike to a 143-foot-deep cave.
One way to evade late-summer temps in the South? Go underground. It’s not a big hike, but trust us: You won’t mind cooling off in this 143-foot, open-air cave. Better than the natural AC is that Stephens Gap is beginner-friendly and nontechnical. Experienced cavers can, of course, rappel in through the top (pictured), while the rest of us can scramble in near mile .7 of an easy hike from the eponymous trailhead on AL 35. The side entry looks like a vast garage door, and hikers can clamber through it to get to the watery cave floor (wear sturdy shoes; the opening lets in enough natural light that you can forgo a headlamp). PERMIT Required (free); apply at permits.scci.org. CONTACT bit.do/stephens-gap