There's no better time than now to be outdoors! The brutal southern summer heat has passed and the trees are showing their spectacular colors of autumn. We have lots of great places to enjoy nature in the Shoals - so, no excuses! Get out there and take a hike, a bike ride, or simply relax and watch the leaves fall. Here are some of the best places in the Shoals to enjoy the great outdoors!
Deibert Park, Florence Location: Corner of Darby Drive and Cox Creek Parkway
This is definitely the "showplace" park of Florence. It also has an interesting history. According to the Visitflorenceal website:
This acreage was once a part of a large antebellum plantation owned by Judge Sidney Cherry Posey. In 1875 his heirs sold his farm to Charles Posey who had worked these same fields as a slave. Later, Charles and his wife, Amcy, began dividing the land among their heirs and this settlement became known as Posey. According to tradition, Charles Posey built a schoolhouse here for his children and others in the neighborhood. This park was donated to the people of Florence by Dr. Kirk R. and Lillian Cook-Diebert who initially acquired this property in 1952. It was officially dedicated on May 25, 2000.
The park is beautifully maintained with spacious paved trails that wind through open and wooded areas featuring several ponds stocked with lots of fish and turtles. Perfect for walking, running, biking, or pushing a stroller! Deibert Park also has public restrooms, an amazing playground, and an interactive children's museum. For park hours and museum info, visit their website here.
Martin Park, Florence Location: 337 N. Royal Ave (near the stadium)
This park is a hidden gem that's easy to miss. Convenient to downtown and both East and North Florence, the park features a paved walking trail loop that is just short of a mile. The track is not flat - it has a couple of inclines that'll get your heart pumping and also has fitness stations around the perimeter of the walking track. The park has a playground, a public outdoor swimming pool (open summer months), and tennis courts just below the park on Royal Avenue. For more info, visit their website here.
Wildwood Park, Florence Location: 110 West College Street
Wildwood Park is one of the best places in the Shoals where you can really get out in nature without driving a long way. As stated on the florenceal.com website:
"One of our most beautiful, serene and secluded parks, Wildwood Park is located just a couple of minutes from downtown Flore.nce and a stone's throw from the UNA campus."
The park features nature trails (unpaved), beginner and advanced mountain bike trails, and a new canoe and kayak ramp. For more information, visit their website here. *Please note the warning on the page about Cypress Creek if you plan to be in the water or kayaking. Check out the video below by beerded_brewer mountain biking on "the loop" at Wildwood.
McFarland Park, Florence Harbor Marina Location: Near Hwy. 20 and 72 intersection at O'neal Bridge
Here you'll find a breathtaking view of O'neal Bridge spanning the Tennessee River across to he beautiful limestone bluffs of Colbert County. At night, the walk is especially nice around the Florence Harbor Lighthouse and the paths are lighted, as well. There are campgrounds, golf, playgrounds, a floating restaurant in Florence Harbor, and the Florence Visitors Center is located in the park. For, more info, visit the florenceal.org website here.
TVA Trails Complex, Muscle Shoals Location: several entrances on TVA's Reservation Road.
From easy paved walking and biking trails to rugged riverside cliff trails, TVA has a vast amount of trails that wind around the Tennessee River and Wilson Lake. The TVA website states:
"The Muscle Shoals National Recreational Trail system is a 17-mile paved and primitive trail and bikeway located on TVA’s Muscle Shoals Reservation. This National Recreation Trail System connects numerous historical sites including:
•Civil War earthworks
•Remnants of a steam plant constructed during World War I
•The original railroad used during construction of Wilson Dam
•Structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s
•TVA’s Old First Quarter"
We truly have a treasure of trails in the Shoals thanks to TVA. Explore the trails online here. You may find one or two you didn't even know about!
TVA Rockpile Trail & Waterfall, Muscle Shoals Location: TVA Reservation Road
This is a great walk - especially for visitors to the Shoals where they can see Wilson Dam up close plus take in the waterfall and natural springs located along the walk. The walk to the waterfall is on a gravel road, flat, and easy to access. Great for parents with strollers! When you go down the hill to the Rockpile area, turn right toward Wilson Dam to reach the area that leads to the waterfall. You'll see parking available by a service road that will lead you on foot the rest of the way to the waterfall. On the opposite end of the Rockpile area near the boat ramp, you'll also find the entrance to several unpaved trails. Some of these go all the way back to the Old Railroad Bridge which is next on the list!
The Old Railroad Bridge, Tennessee River Location: Access the bridge via Ash Blvd, Sheffield
One of the most unique landmarks in the Shoals and an amazing place to enjoy the outdoors! Alabama's oldest bridge site - dating back to 1839 with the existing bridge built in the late 1800's. The Old Railroad Bridge is now a pedestrian walkway that spans two thirds of the river - providing a great view along with some good excercise! Check out the nature trails at the entrance to the bridge that connect with TVA Trails, too! Click over to the website of the Old Railroad Bridge Company here for more info and the latest activities going on at the bridge including sunset Yoga classes currently being offered!
Gattman Park, Muscle Shoals Location: 901 Gattman Park Road
A family friendly park tucked away in a residential area of Muscle Shoals, you might be surprised at what Gattman Park has to offer! There are easy outdoor trails and walking areas plus an indoor trail. According to the Muscle Shoals Parks and Recreation website:
In Gattman Park, there are many facilities. First of all, we have two gyms. Gym #1 has a gym, party and meeting rooms, kitchen, and also holds the administrative office. Gym #2 has a gym with an indoor walking track. This track has a rubber type floor that is very comfortable to walk on. Gym #3 has a gym and meeting room.
For more info and hours, visit their website here.
Spring Park, Tuscumbia Location: Spring Park Road Downtown Tuscumbia
Spring Park is a "must see" for visitors and folks new to the Shoals area and offers an afternoon of entertainment along with the excercise! With a short paved walking trail featuring a picturesque waterfall that tumbles over huge stone blocks, a pond with ducks (bring bread for feeding them!), several playgrounds, an antique carousel, and a train ride that circles the park, this park offers something for everyone and is definitely a local favorite. There is a nice lighted fountain show at night that you can even watch from your car if the outdoors isn't your thing. During the Christmas Holidays, the train operates at night and meanders around lighted holiday displays. It's free to enter the park but the train ride costs a small fee. For more info, click here.
Riverfront Park, Sheffield 1416 Alabama Avenue, Sheffield
Located on the banks of the beautiful Tennesse River near downtown Sheffield, this is another local park that has something for everyone - from a playground, a splash pad (during summer months) and some great local fishing. For walking, there is a nicely paved flat trail that runs adjacent to the river along a mile of shoreline. At each end the trail goes off the pavement for those a bit more adventurous and branches out into a few short trails. .For hours and more info, see the Sheffield City website here.
Joe Wheeler State Park, Rogersville Location: 4401 McClean Drive (entrance on Hwy. 72 in Rogersville).
According to their website: "
The Joe wheeler Resort and State Park offers hiking and mountain biking trails that allow you to reconnect with nature and view some of the best scenery that north Alabama has to offer. The 2,550 acre state park also has a waterfront lodge and restaurant, a full-service marina, 18 hole golf course, lakeside cottage and cabin rentals and primitive camping spaces."
For more info, check out their website here.
St. Florian Walking Loop and Park, St. Florian Location: Just off Old Jackson Hwy. in St. Florian by the Senior Center
This is one of my favorite places for a nice walk on a sunny afternoon. The charming little park is very well maintained and has an easy paved walking trail that makes a short loop through a small wooded area. You can tell that the friendly community of St. Florian has taken great care of the park and gone to great lengths to make it a welcoming part of their community. A small playground with a rentable picnic shelter is available by the trail, too. Each fall the park is the center of the town's Octoberfest celebration. For more info, see their website here.
Shoal Creek Preserve, Lauderdale County Butler Creek Road (County Rd. 61)
This is a great place for hiking with two unpaved trails that are well marked and easy to navigate.The total length of the trails is 4.3 miles. According to the visitflorenceal website:
Three-hundred acres of woods, waterfalls, creeks, and bluffs just north of Florence. Challenge yourself over 4½ miles of rugged terrain and trails for horses, hiking, mountain bikes. This preserve’s natural beauty is unsurpassed.
Hiking at Shoal Creek Preserve feels like you're farther out in the wilderness than you actually are - while it's only minutes from the center of Florence. For more info, visit here.
Rock Springs Nature Trail, Lauderdale County Location: Natchez Trace Parkway Milepost 330.2
A beautiful unpaved natural trail located on Natchez Trace Parkway. According to the Natchez Trace website:
The trails and stepping stones in the area lead you across Colbert Creek past Rock Spring and through the woodlands. Since 1977 numerous beaver dams have been built then abandoned by the beaver or destroyed by high water. Walk the trails and enjoy a changing environment of this once free flowing spring-fed stream.
This is one of my personal favorite local trails! It's beautiful in the late spring when there are lots of wildflowers in bloom and just as pretty in the fall with the leaves in brilliant colors. For more info, visit the Natchez Trace website here.
Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve, Colbert County (Tuscumbia) Location: 251 Loop Road, Tuscumbia
According to wikipedia: "Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve is a 413-acre private nature preserve in Colbert County, Alabama, south of Tuscumbia that opened in 1986 and is owned by Jim and Faye Lacefield. The couple purchased 40 acres of land in 1979 and gradually added land, growing to over 700 acres. The land's features include waterfalls, wetlands, streams, glades, cliffs, and the canyon. The preserve, which is open to the public, has 15 miles of hiking trails, and access to the preserve is free." Don't miss the beauty of Autumn in the Canyon! Find more information about the preserve here with Friends of Cane Creek Nature Preserve.
Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge, Lauderdale County (Southwest of Florence) Location: 2700 Refuge Headquarters Road
Here you'll find a 2.5 mile hiking gravel road and dirt pathways mostly in open grasslands. Hiking in the spring and summer, you'll see acres of open fields full of Black Eyed Susans and Sunflowers in full bloom. Fall hiking is gorgeous, too, with the view of the surrounding forests that frame the fields in fall colors. For bird watchers, this area is very popular, as well. For more information, visit their website here.
Veterans Memorial Park, Florence Location: Just off Cox Creek Pkwy South near the Marriot and Wilsom Dam
Florence was way ahead of it's time when frisbee golf or disc golf was introduced here in the 1970s. In fact, one of the first disc golf courses in the U.S. was opened at Veteran's park. The 18 hole course at Veteran's Park has remained very popular over the years and still get great reviews online. Bring a frisbee and give it a try! To see a map of the disc course, visit here at Udisc. Veteran's park also has playgrounds, tennis courts, and a great view of Wilson Dam where you can walk down to the edge of Wilson Lake. There is also a Veteran's Museum in the park. See their website here.
So there you have it: plenty of choices for getting outdoors in the Shoals area. Now, put on those walking shoes and hit the trail! The beautiful fall leaves will be gone before we know it! Did I leave out your favorite outdoor space in the Shoals? Leave a note in the comments!
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