Red Mountain Park is a learning through adventure area in Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham is called the Magic City because it sprang up seemingly overnight after the Civil War. There is a valley surrounded by mountains that contain limestone, iron ore, and coal—the key ingredients necessary to make pig iron and later steel. Rather than build railroads to take the resources to existing mills in cities like Pittsburgh, it was cheaper and easier to just build furnaces in the shadows of the mountains. Red Mountain Park is built on the site of many of the mines and railroads that services those mills.
The park features zip lines, climbing walls, suspension bridges and miles or running/hiking/biking trails. I wanted to burn some calories for feasting on Christmas Day, so I parked at the entrance to the park and hiked to Gracie’s Gap, which features a view of the downtown Birmingham skyline.
Because this is a rails to trails program, the pathways are wide and fairly level. The walk to Gracie’s Gap is about 4 miles out and back, but I added more trails to create a longer loop. There were a lot of trail runners in the park and the signage is adequate, so you’re never alone and it’s hard to get lost.
One nice surprise along this hike was the suspension bridge just before the overlook. I would have loved something like this when I was a kid. Back then, you counted yourself lucky if the playground slide had a twist in it.