It may be known as the Metropolitan Region, but the area is by no means a sea of endless suburbs. One of the things that surprises visitors to the area the most is the lush natural beauty that surrounds us. The public parks in the region provide great opportunities to explore the true beauty of Alabama.
At 2,407 feet above sea level, the Cheaha Mountain is the highest point in the entire state. The park provides grand views of the Talladega National Forest, which surrounds the 2,799-acres of the park itself. Over 80 campsites, 10 cabins and a number of trails are available for outdoor enthusiasts. The Bald Rock Group/Conference Lodge was originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939, and is a popular site for weddings, business meetings, and family gatherings. A full-service restaurant on the side of Cheaha Mountain serves regional cuisine to compliment the stunning view.
Situated on nearly 10,000 acres of pine-covered ridges and forested valleys, Oak Mountain is the largest park in the state. Within the park is the Wildlife Center (www.awrc.org), the largest wildlife rehabilitation center in Alabama. Visitors to the park will also find am 18-hole golf course, a demonstration farm with horse stables, several swimming areas, campsites and cabins, picnic facilities, two 85-acre fishing lakes, and hiking trails.
Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge, was chosen as a symbol for the city of Birmingham prior to the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. The 56-foot cast iron stature (the world's largest) overlooks the city atop a 124-foot pedestal on Red Mountain. Recently restored to it's original state, the statue and adjoining observation tower are the centerpiece of Vulcan Park. The park hosts many outdoor events throughout the year, and the view of the city is unparalleled.
Talladega National Forest
Nestled amongst the southern edge of the Appalachian Mountains, the Talladega National Forest stretches over 7,500 acres of central Alabama. The forest incorporates rugged mountains, breathtaking waterfalls and pastoral valleys. The 26-mile Talladega Scenic Byway winds though the forest from Heflin to Adam's Gap. Also located within the forest is Lake Chinnabee Recreation Area, which offers camping, fishing, hiking and picnicking.
The Brierfield Ironworks were built in 1862 by a group of enterprising men hoping to profit from the Confederacy's need for iron products. Soon the ironworks were notorious for the quality and mass of their production, so much so that in 1865 a group of Union Calvary traveled to the ironworks and set them ablaze. Attempts after the war to restore the ironworks to their former glory met with short-lived success, and the Brierfield furnace blew out for good in 1894. Today the location is a state park that hosts overnight camping, cabin rental, a church and an outdoor swimming pool.