Oak Mountain lies in the center of Oak Mountain State Park and is located just south and east of Birmingham, Alabama. The road leading to the peak, as well as the Green Trail leading to the summit, offer some impressive southern lookout points, especially in the fall when the leaves change their colors. It is difficult to find another area so close to Birmingham that offers some of the same vistas.
While the drive to the trailhead still offer some beautiful overlooks, there has been a lot of growth on the Green Trail in the past year. Visibility into the valley below is now heavily obscured by trees.
The distance to the summit is a short (~one mile) distance from the Peavine Falls Parking Lot along the Green Trail. The trail takes you through a Longleaf Pine (Pinus Palustris
) forest. These trees seen throughout the southeast United States, used to dominate the park, but like most pines, need fire to recruit young trees. As there haven't been many fires in the park, the pines are slowly making way for hardwood trees and it is believed that they may be disappear from the park completely.
While the trail to the summit is rather short, there are many other trails in the park. Most notably, the trail to Peavine Falls draws many visitors. Indeed, I suspect that more visitors to the park have been to see Peavine Falls than have been to the summit.
At over 10,000 acres, it is currently the largest state park in Alabama. There are a number of activities available in the park including: horse-riding, an 18-hole golf course, a children's playground, excellent fishing, as well as (and most important from my perspective), several hiking trails.
History of the State Park
Oak Mountain State Park was created as a result of the State Land Act of 1927, giving the park the first nine hundred forty acres between Double Oak Mountain in the east and Little Oak Ridge in the west. Seperately, in the 1930’s, the National Park Service acquired an approximately eight thousand acres surrounding the park.
From 1934 through 1937, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) developed several roads in the park along with pavilions and cabins. In addition, from 1935 through 1941, the Works Progress Administration constructed Lake Tranquility Dam and the nearby Group Camp. In 1943, the National Park Service deeded to Oak Mountain State Park approximately eight thousand surrounding acres to the existing nine hundred forty acres.
The work of the CCC remains throughout the park in abandoned structures, foundations, and bridges. The structures were most often placed at higher elevations that provided spectacular views of the region.
Oak Mountain State Park is located 15 miles south of Birmingham off Exit 246 on Interstate 65.
From I-65, take Cahaba Valley Road (AL-119) exit. Go South on AL-119 and immediately turn left onto State Park Road. Go approximately 1.5 miles to the park entrance.
To get to the trail head leading to the summit, once past the park gate, continue until you see Terrace Drive on your right. Make a right onto Terrace Drive and continue driving past several overlooks and a lovely lake. The road will curve around quite a bit, but will eventually dead end into the Peavine Falls Parking Lot. Park here and look for a sign marking the beginning of the Green Trail. It will be directly across from the trailhead for Peavine Falls.
There is a fee to enter the park. $3.00 on the weekends and $2.00 during the weekdays.
Note: the park generally closes one hour before dark. For those who park at the Peavine Falls parking lot, please be aware that there is a gate on the road leading up to the parking lot that gets closed and locked shortly after sunset. Please make sure that you are off of the mountain by then, or be prepared to stay overnight.
For registered camping and cabin guests, the front gate is open 24 hours a day. After hours registration is available at the Front Entrance Gate for Cabin and Camping Guests until 9:00 p.m.
For those who wish to backpack, there are a number of primitive backpacking spots available. It should be noted that there are NO fires allowed in the backcountry campsites.
Cabins are also available for a small fee. Lastly, there are also a number of "improved" campsites for people wishing to park with RVs. Fees are listed on the website
Reservations for these spots are strongly advised and accepted from Monday through Thursday (9:30 AM – 4:30 PM). To make a reservation, please contact call 1-800-ALA-PARK or (205) 620-2527
For those who want to use the internet while on the park grounds, the Pro Shop at the Golf Course is a WiFi Hot Spot.
Oak Mountain State Park
200 Terrace Dr.
Pelham, AL 35124
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