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292 pages (November 2007); 14.4MB downloadMenasha Ridge Press
; ISBN: 978-0-89732-978-1
Nationwide, hikes that are close to home and accomplished within a day represent the most accessible and most popular form of outdoor activity. Home to great in-town urban hikes and walks, scenic suburban hikes, and world-class area wilderness hikes, Birmingham is no exception.
Part of the most comprehensive urban hiking series in print, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles Birmingham profiles the best day hikes and walks within roughly an hour's drive of the metro area. Whereas many urban areas farther north experience defined hiking seasons, Birmingham's moderate winter climate encourages hiking year-round. Sunny and warm spring is the ideal season for outdoor exploration in the area. Summers wax hot, but hikers can find respite on one of many shaded forest trails such as those located in the Talladega National Forest, the Sipsey Wilderness Area, or even right here in town at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve.
Ruffner Mountain is a real urban hiking jewel. Located just minutes from downtown, the forested 1,000 acres is the second largest urban nature preserve in the United States. 60 Hikes within 60 Miles Birmingham covers six hikes in this parcel of land filled with mining history. Just a 20-minute drive from downtown, Oak Mountain State Park is probably the most popular destination for area hikers. The park's rugged terrain, public lakes, well-marked trails, dense mix of hardwoods and pine, and abundance of facilities makes Oak Mountain a place that's easy to visit over and over.
As part of a general urban renewal plan and effort to Green the city, plans are currently underway for the development of three, new, and major outdoor/hiking venues. Railroad Preservation Park will provide manicured downtown hiking. The Five Mile Creek Greenway will open up 17 miles of footpath along a reclaimed creek, from Tarrant City to the Black Warrior River. Located east of Birmingham, Red Mountain Park, the granddaddy of the lot, will pack in 64 miles of trail, stretching nearly to Bessemer. Although not yet open to the public, these trails will be discussed in the Introduction as coming attractions.
Ultimately Birmingham holds its own with more well-known hiker havens such as Portland and San Francisco. The scale is smaller, the pace a bit slower, but the opportunity for a great hike close to home looms just as large.
About the Author
Russell Helms is an avid hiker and editor of outdoor guidebooks. In addition to treading area trails by foot on a weekly basis, he hangs ten on his mountain bike daily. Helms is also the author of "GPS Outdoors: A Practical Guide for Outdoor Enthusiasts."