One of the benefits of living in the Birmingham area is we have easy access to so many really great parks and natural areas. Once out in the boonies, Oak Mountain State Park is now surrounded by urban sprawl, and being easily accessible, is one of these great places to go to get away from it all. It is now an even better place, especially for those seeking healthy recreation and a healthy economy, for two big reasons.
REASON ONE: More trail:
Yesterday, the park formally dedicated the new Lake Trail, which for the first time provides a relatively level loop around the swimming lake. This trail, which is approximately 2.3 miles long, winds its way from the day use area at the end of Terrace Drive to a trail ahead just across from the existing trail head to just north of the Marina area. Winding its way through the woods, with views to the lake, it crosses the top of the dam offering a really great view of Oak Mountain with the fall colors reflecting on the lake in the foreground. Designed to be a beginner mountain bike trail, this relatively level trail also serves as a beginner hiking trail, and by looping back to the day use area via the beach area, makes a nice three mile hike. It is hoped that this trail will encourage people to get out of their cars and enjoy the beauty of Oak Mountain State park either on foot or by bike, getting some heart health exercise as well.
Constructed by a partnership between the Park, (owned and managed by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources), Shelby County, the City of Pelham and the Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers (BUMP.org) , this trail was funded by a recreational trail grant from ADECA. The majority of the trail, including a connector trail called Rattlesnake Ridge, was designed and built mainly by volunteers from BUMP, with assistance and support from Shelby County. The bridge over the dam spillway, a major obstacle to building the trail, was constructed by the City of Pelham.
The trail head for the new lake trail is easy to find, located just left of the restrooms on the day use road. Other facilities near by include changing rooms and a bike wash, near the main parking area.
REASON TWO: Epic trail status
The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA)recently announced that the Oak Mountain mountain bike trail System has been designated EPIC status. This does not mean much to people who do not mountain bike, but it means the trail will now appear on a list of the best mountain bike trail systems in the world. This is expected to dramatically increase mountain bike tourism to the area, which will be a shot in the arm for the local economy. Cyclists are typically relatively affluent and look for places like EPIC trails to spend their vacations. Together with the fact that there are many many other great trails within an hour’s drive of Birmingham, and you have a great place to come spend your vacation dollars. The Red Trail mountain bike trail was built and maintained by BUMP, who will be starting construction on another three mile single track section this weekend, adding even more great riding to the system. Visit www. bump.org for more information.
Given that quality of life is often listed as high on the list of things young professionals are looking for when deciding on where to work, and attracting such people is a major goal of our local business community, this is good news indeed. Be sure to make an effort to go visit the park soon to check out the new trail, and the other great things to do there.