The leaves are changing color and the brisk autumn air brings with it a welcome drop in temperature. This particular time of change in season is always a perfect time for getting outdoors and exploring the beauty of nature in transition — all around us, right here in the Birmingham area. Load up the family or grab a friend or two, pack a thermos of something warm to drink, and head out to one of these top 5 places in Birmingham to spend a fall day.
Red Mountain Park
Red Mountain is one of Birmingham’s most historic and beautiful outdoor destinations. With more than 1,500 acres of land along the Red Mountain Ridge, the park features over 14 miles of trails, two stunning overlooks of the city, and access to three historic iron ore mining ruins. Adventure-seekers will be thrilled to try one of several outdoor attractions featuring climbing, zip-lining, and even rope bridges. Feeling especially adventurous? Check out the Red Ore Zip and the Kaul Adventure Tower.
Oak Mountain State Park
Just a short drive from the downtown metro area of Birmingham, Oak Mountain State Park boasts more than 10,000-acres and is Alabama’s largest state park. Hikers in particular will enjoy a visit to one of the blue trails along the top ridge, and will likely be treated to some type of wildlife sighting. Whether or not you want to hit the trails for a brisk walk or bike ride, or even take a drive along the long, winding roads, Oak Mountain offers especially stunning views this time of year. Don’t forget to bring along your camera to capture autumn colors at their best.
Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve
Another of Birmingham’s historic gems, Ruffner Mountain is a former iron ore mining site that has transitioned into one of the city’s most well preserved natural urban spaces. With 1,038 acres of land, Ruffner is one of the largest privately held urban nature preserve in the United States. Visitors can enjoy catching glimpses of Birmingham’s industrial past at many different locations along the twelve miles of trail throughout the preserve. Ruffner also features some of the best fall outdoor evening activities including a wine and cheese hike, Beer on the Back Porch, and this year, a special paranormal investigation event on Halloween night.
Moss Rock Preserve
Moss Rock is another hidden gem located just outside of the Birmingham downtown area, in Hoover. It contains about 12 miles of trails amid a beautiful wooded nature preserve. With loads of low resting boulders (perfect for climbing), Moss Rock also offers visitors the chance to enjoy the beauty of several waterfalls. Filled with an assortment of pine and hardwood trees, Moss Rock is nearly completely shaded, so depending on the time of day, extra layers of clothing may be necessary. The Moss Rock Preserve is also just behind the location of the annual Moss Rock Festival, the Southeast’s premier eco-event happening this year on November 7th & 8th.
The Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Photos courtesy of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Taking a stroll through Birmingham’s most cultivated gardens during the autumn months will give you a whole new perspective on nature’s ability to transform. Known as Alabama’s largest living museum, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens is home to more than 12,000 different plants situated upon more than 67 acres. Admission and parking are both free and allow visitors access to explore at least 25 different specialty gardens, all of which offer dramatic changes in color and in texture during the autumn months.
Photos from the first four above locations are courtesy of Katrina Foreman, a local outdoor enthusiast and photographer who enjoys taking pictures in natural settings. Learn more about her photography at hotwaterphotography.com.