Top 5 Places to Hike in Birmingham

DSC_0178Birmingham is located at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, providing adventuring souls with hundreds of acres of trails to explore. Whether you want a short, easy walk or a steep climb, there is a hiking trail just for you.

Oak Moutain State Park
What to do: hiking, biking, geocaching, boating, fishing
Best Hiking Trails: Peavine Falls
Location: 200 Terrace Drive, Pelham, AL 35124
Hours: 7 AM – 7 PM
Admission: $4/person

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve
What to do: hiking, Visitors’ Center exhibits
Best Hiking Trails: Crusher Trail, Overlook Trail
Location: 1214 81st Street South, Birmingham, AL 35206
Hours:9 AM – 5 PM
Admission: Free
Things to know: No exit after 5 PM, closed on Mondays, opens at 1 PM on Sundays
Tech tip: Go to Ruffner’s website to access a trail map that can track your current location

Moss Rock Preserve
What to do: Hiking, bouldering
Best Hiking Trails: Orange Trail
Location: 617 Preserve Way, Hoover, AL 35226
Hours: Daylight
Admission: Free
Note: Be sure to go to the boulder fields!

Red Mountain Park
What to do: hiking, biking, zip line, geocaching, dog park
Best Hiking Trails: SkyHy Treehouse (via Smythe)
Overlooks: Ishkooda Overlook, Grace’s Gap Overlook
Location: 2011 Frankfurt Drive, Birmingham, AL 35211
Hours: 7 AM – 7 PM
Admission: Free

Jemison Park
What to do: Walking/Running, Picnicking
Location: Shades Creek Parkway/Lakeshore Drive near Mountain Brook
Hours: Daylight
Admission: Free


Alabama Adventures: High Ropes in the Hugh Kaul Beanstalk Forest

By Sydney Cromwell

When life is feeling stale and you need a break in your routine, the Magic City delivers. From 14,000 feet in the air to hundreds of feet underground, we found the best adventures in the Birmingham area. This is the first in a six-part series.

High Ropes

Hugh Kaul Beanstalk Forest
Red Mountain Park, 2011 Frankfurt Dr.
$50 per person (two hours)
(205) 913-7899

Hidden in the trees of Red Mountain Park is a series of ropes, cables and wooden planks that create both a mental and physical challenge. The Hugh Kaul Beanstalk Forest consists of 13 tree platforms, the highest sitting over 60 feet off the ground, with 20 obstacles spanning the space in between.
These challenges include a slack-line, rope bridges, a climbing wall and a variety of other things to crawl, climb, jump or balance upon. Meagan Odom, the adventure operations and service manager, said one of the most popular parts is the “surfboard,” a hanging plank that people can ride back and forth between two platforms.
Odom said the course was built in May 2013 to accommodate growing interest in the outdoors in Birmingham and “to encourage a bunch of shapes, sizes and ages to get up and challenge themselves in a safe way.” Since then, she has seen hundreds of children and adults take on the Beanstalk Forest.
“I like that everybody does it differently,” Odom said. “You’ll see a six-year-old kid and a 32-year-old man do the same event within the same two hours and it will not look like the same event.”
One of the other advantages of the course, Odom said, is that people can choose which challenges they want to try. Some want to experience every obstacle, and others have fun just trying two or three. Both of those approaches are encouraged.
For those who want multiple adventures in one day, the park also has a zipline that is visible from the Beanstalk Forest, a climbing wall under construction and miles of hiking trails. Odom said Red Mountain Park’s adventure area “does nothing but grow.”

Moss Rock Preserve for nature lovers and thrill seekers alike

Just 12 miles from the towering buildings and busy streets of downtown Birmingham lies a scenic outdoor escape with a quiet forest, peaceful streams and the most noticeable feature — magnificent, lofty boulders.

The boulders of Moss Rock Preserve draw all types of people in. Avid climbers make the trek from various parts of the Southeast to face these rocks. Families enjoy fresh air as they take family portraits or let their kids climb. Young couples walk with their dog. College students take a study-break from classes. The wonderful feature of this getaway is that whether a first-time guest or a regular climber, each trip to the boulders of Moss Rock Preserve offers a challenge and thrill.IMG_2642

Colby Tindle, a 25-year-old painter from Hoover, first came out to Moss Rock in high school. He said it was much less crowded back then. Tindle speculated that word of mouth has made the spot more popular over the last few years. Tindle first came to the preserves with friends, and since then he has introduced his brothers and others to these boulder adventures. So what exactly draws people in? The natural landscape and beautiful scenery are certainly appealing, but for many people it really is about the rocks. Bouldering, or rock climbing without a harness, is a culture in-and-of itself.

Garrett, Tindle’s brother, is a recent high school graduate that climbs in his free time as well. Climbing for him is a relaxing, free way to get out. He says it’s his favorite thing to do. Garrett likes the thrill of knowing there is a possibility of falling and also the ability to conquer new rocks.

Being out on the rocks makes him feel closer to nature. Tindle really enjoys finding new rocks and new paths to conquer. Regulars like him often have their own climbing shoes that let them grasp the rocks better and give them the ability to do more difficult climbs. He also has a crash pad — which he puts under the climbing path in case he falls.

Tindle said that he likes the people he meets out at the Moss Rock Preserve. Bonded by a love of climbing, he gets to make connections with all types of people. Strangers have tips to offer, climbing paths to point out and stories to tell.
Climbing at Moss Rock Preserve offers a unique outdoor experience for nature lovers and thrill seekers alike.