By RICK WATSON
May brought people from all over the world to Oak Mountain State Park for an XTERRA world triathlon championship. The park had new trails and other features to welcome them—and to welcome anyone living close by to hike, bike, swim, fish, golf or play there.
Thanks to the efforts of Birmingham Urban Mountain Peddlers (BUMP), the park has opened two new mountain biking trails.
The intermediate-level Jekyll and Hyde trail starts at Red Road and dumps out at Peavine Road trailhead. The top portion of the trail is a slow and very technical ride, and the bottom part is much faster with insloped turns called berms.
The second new trail, Lightning, is an advanced trail for those riders with experience in downhill riding. Mike Jeffreys, the superintendent who came to the park last year, said it’s a good idea to wear safety equipment on these trails.
In addition to these improvements, the park is opening a new Pump Track in the BMX area.
“The track is round, but you can head out in any direction. It’s used to help riders gain skills to reach the next level of riding,” Jeffreys said.
All these improvements aren’t cheap. Jeffreys is quick to point out that Shelby County has played a huge role in making the park what it is today. He’s worked at several other parks in the state and said that none of those parks received the kind of support that the county provides. The county helps financially, writes grants, and provides county workers as well as community service workers to help do what needs to be done.
Biking trails aren’t the only thing new to the park. Oak Mountain recently built a new ADA (Americans with Disabilities) accessible pier just behind the park’s main office.
“It was built for the exceptional anglers event in May,” Jeffreys said. “It makes it possible for handicapped children to go fishing.” The pier was funded by private company donations, and the event is supported by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Fishery Department and several private donors.
In addition, 12 new equestrian campground sites also opened last summer. The sites are 50 amp pull-throughs that allow people with recreational vehicles to camp overnight. The new sites were paid for with matching funds between Shelby County and the park.
A final new perk to the park will be access to WiFi. Engineers are determining the right amount of bandwidth required to make that service available.
Jeffreys said his first year at Oak Mountain State Park has been a wild ride, but he’s excited about the future, and all the park has to offer. “I love this job,” he said.
For more information on Oak Mountain State Park, visit alapark.com/oakmountain/.
Seven more reasons to visit Oak Mountain
1. Cabins on the private lake and at Peavine Falls
2. Visiting animals at the petting farm
3. Day use pavilions that can be reserved
4. Paddle boats on the lake
5. Treetop Nature Trail, a boardwalk that displays injured birds of prey
6. Educational facility and programs offered by the Alabama Wildlife Center, which rehabilitates orphaned and injured birds to release them back into the wild
7. The Interpretive Center, which is run by Samford University and tells the ecological and biological history of Oak Mountain