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RED MOUNTAIN PARK, a new urban park in Birmingham, Alabama, is transforming property that was once intensively mined for iron ore into a place of healthy activities, neighborhood connections, environmental stewardship, and economic vitality, all while celebrating the region’s diversity and unique history.
Trail Crew at Redding Hoist House, one of the historic mining
structures being preserved on Red Mountain Park
At 1,200 acres and four and a half miles in length this new open space for Birmingham will raise the city’s open space per capita to among the highest in the nation. A number of abandoned mining structures remain on site and evidence of mining activity is readily apparent. Since mining operations ceased 50 years ago the landscape has regenerated with native flora and fauna as well as a number of invasive species.
Red Mountain Park is located in the southwest corner of Birmingham. It rises approximately 200 feet above the surrounding neighborhoods and is the dominant geographic feature in the city.
Old railroad beds and maintenance roads that once transported iron ore are becoming the foundation of a comprehensive urban trail system.
The trails will serve a wide variety of trail users with miles of enjoyable hiking and biking and equestrian trails. These trails will be a hub for the region’s growing greenway network, linking neighborhoods and cites around the mountain with a seamless trail system.
Deer are common residents on the well-vegetated park site
Volunteers are helping with construction of a new set of trails connecting historic sites. Working with the staff, the Friends of Red Mountain Park are collaborating with other trail enthusiasts to build the natural soft surface trail system.
Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers (BUMP), the Boy Scouts, church youth groups, and volunteers from a number of civic organizations are actively working to design and open miles of shared use trails in the city. Trails to the #13 mine site are now open. A trail head has been cleared at the Redding Hoist House. Regions Bank employees will help us open 1,500 feet of new trail along the ridge line in early November. Volunteers and trail enthusiasts like these will help make Red Mountain Park a reality in Birmingham.
Red Mountain Park is a project of the Red Mountain Greenway and Recreational Area Commission. The Commission’s Early Action Plan include a shared use Round the Mountain Loop trail, a heritage and welcome center, a lake, , group and family picnic areas, scenic overlooks, and a number of play and activity pods.
All of these projects seek to preserve and interpret the historic and cultural resources of the property once owned and operated by U.S. Steel—an internationally known integrated steel producer. Furthermore, the Commission will conserve important historic mining sites and preserve the heritage of Red Mountain’s mining communities through the development of a visitor center and interpretive programs.
New rock steps on the trail system
Red Mountain Park will strengthen regional, city and neighborhood wellness and promote economic stability by enhancing the city’s natural resources, providing recreation, and defining community identity.
Red Mountain Park is currently open to hiking and cycling on a limited basis. The public can tour the site on the third Sunday of each month for guided tours.
Learn more about trails, plans, and events for Red Mountain Park at www.redmountainpark.org. More news and information is available from the Friends of Red Mountain Park at www.friendsofredmountainpark.org.
This article was published in the American Trails Magazine Fall 2009 issue. See more from this issue at www.americantrails.org/trailtracks/index.html.