Take a hike at Oak Mountain

Published 9:03 pm Thursday, July 16, 2009

The miles of trails that wind through Oak Mountain State Park offer something for everyone.

The park, Alabama’s most visited one, is just a short drive up Interstate 65 in Pelham.

From meandering streams to breathtaking views, chance wildlife encounters to beautiful Peavine Falls, the park serves as a sanctuary for those wanting to get away.

Though temperature are warm, summer is still a great time to plan a hike.

Several of the park’s trails offer breathtaking views from Double Oak Mountain. Visit in May or June when everything is alive and green or October for fiery foliage.

The two most popular destinations at Oak Mountain are Peavine Falls and the Treetop Trail.

Peavine Falls

Oak Mountain features 24 miles of hiking trails, most of which make their way to Peavine Falls.

The 65-foot waterfall roars down a rock wall into a collection pool, perfect for splashing in during summer months.

The waterfall tends to dry up some during summer, trickling down the rocks, but its still worth the effort to get there, if just to cool off.

“You have to watch your step. It’s steep, and there’s no direct route to the base,” said Emily Cohen, a naturalist at the park.

Wildflowers and trees bloom in spring.

Peavine Falls is just a short walk from the South Trailhead parking lot.

Treetop Trail

The Alabama Wildlife Rehabilitation Center works to return injured and orphaned animals to the wild. Sadly, some animals can’t ever be released.

“There’s something wrong with them that they can’t exist in the wild,” said Cohen.

The Treetop Trail offers close-up views of hawks and owls along an elevated walkway.

The half-mile trail is family-family and handicap-accessible. The trail starts near the park office on Terrace Drive.

Longer trails

Foothills Trail (Yellow Trail) – 8.2 miles point-to-point, 5-6 hours, moderate to difficult in the beginning but easy for the last half.

Peavine Falls (Green Trail) – 4.6 miles out-and-back, 3-4 hours, difficult for most of the way with steep climbs.

South Rim Trail (Blue Trail) – 6.7 miles point-to-point, 3-4 hours, starts with difficult climb but soon levels out.

Shackelford Point Trail (White Trail) – 6.3 miles point-to-point, 3-4 hours, easy with a few moderate climbs.

Double Oak Trail (Red Trail) – 17 miles loop, moderate to difficult. The Red Trail is a mountain biking trail that hosts several races throughout the year. Hikers are allowed on the trail, but watch out for bikers!