The pilot had flown from eutaw to seale, al to participate in a parachute activity. Although the plane was equipped for parachuting, it was not used for that purpose on that trip. Before returning to eutaw, the pilot used a dipstick to check the fuel and estimated he had a sufficient amount remaining for the 1.1 hr return flight. He did not check the weather or refuel the aircraft. En route, he encountered clouds, darkness, and heavy rain showers. While deviating from his planned course, he lost track of his position and the fuel supply became low. He diverted to tuscaloosa, al, but ran out of fuel during his approach. The plane struck trees about 1/2 mile from the runway during a forced landing. No seat or seat belt was available for the passenger; however, the passenger received only minor injuries.