Hiking and Running in Birmingham, AL

Here are some hiking and running trails in Birmingham, Alabama, that I use. There are others that are worthy of visiting, but this should be a good list to get you going.

Hiking in Birmingham 

Oak Mountain State Park


Oak Mountain State Park  <- Google Profile

overall best hiking and camping in the area. So many different hiking trails with different levels of complexity

Ruffner Mountain 

Ruffner Mountain <- Google Profile

Ruffner Mountain

In the city. In an old rock quarry. You can hike to a place that looks out over the city skyline.

Red Mountain

Explore – Red Mountain Park

Red Mountain Park <- Google Profile

In the city on the opposite side to Ruffner. You drive through Homewood to get there. Built around iron mines and you can hike to a point that see the tree line. Supposedly some huge tree houses but I’ve never seen them. All levels of hiking.

Moss Rock Preserve

Moss Rock Preserve | Hoover, AL – Official Website

Moss Rock Preserve <- Google Profile 

In Hoover near the mall. Giant boulders you can climb and squeeze through. Really fun. Easy trails.

Jogging trails

Jemison Trail

Jemison Park <- Google Profile

Jemison Park Nature Trail: 321 Reviews, Map – Alabama | AllTrails 

The best place to run in Birmingham located in Mountain Brook. You run on a pavement and crushed rock trails very flat along a creek and mansion lined streets. Connects to the roads of Mountain Brook where you can make a loop through the city, which is very friendly to runners. Where I run multiple times a week.

Lake Shore trail

Shades Valley Greenway eastern trailhead (off Brookwood Village parking area) <- Google Profile

Shades Creek Greenway (Lakeshore Trail) – Great Runs

Some may say this is the best place to run. Wider paths, very flat, takes you through Homewood and Samford University and actually connects (in a way) to Jemison trail. To connect, just run through the Brookwood Mall parking lot and go under 280. The other side is the beginning of Jemison.

Dunnavant Valley Greenway 

Dunnavant Valley Greenway <- Google Profile

Very easy trail  south of the city but still close that goes along a creek where you can see gentle waterfalls. Less crowded but not the wow factor of the other trails. Easy to get to.

Railroad Park Downtown

Railroad Park Foundation  <- Google Profile

Beautiful park with skyline views, across from the Birmingham Barons Baseball park and lined by cafes and shops. Connects to sidewalks that will take you on jog throughout the city or rent scooters or bikes provided by the city.

Rotary trail 

Rotary Trail Birmingham <- Google Profile

New pathway through downtown Birmingham.

Veteran’s Park 5k trail

https://goo.gl/maps/Skm35AF8isF1FwrRA <- Google Profile

5k trail that is mostly flat with one big hill. Takes you around a pond, and then about half of the trail is through the woods. Huge park for kids to play.

Enjoying the Journey

A story of happy accidents.

Do you have something you are passionate about but maybe are not the most talented in that area? For me, that is running. I started running almost by accident. One year, after moving to a new school, I found out I had missed football tryouts. Instead of sitting out of sports completely I decided to look for another option. That’s when I found out the Cross Country team doesn’t have tryouts. They will take anyway willing to suffer a hilly trail, blisters on their feet, and constantly sore calf muscles. While running through country roads, winding paths, and quiet downtown streets I fell in love with running. It was a hobby birthed almost by accident.

If only all accidents had a happy ending.

Most times in life an accident means trouble, pain, or at least a change of plans. I wish they were all happy accidents, but most of the time they are not. I heard the sticky note was created by accident. I wish I had more accidents like that. Most of my accidents would lead to me giving up on creating, not creating something that changes a company for the better.

Have you ever had an accident slow you down?

A New Goal

Last year I set the goal of finishing a half-marathon under two hours. About six months later I finished a half marathon at 2:00:44. I started slow and missed my goal by 44 seconds. I wasn’t exactly happy about this, but at least I was getting close. It seemed inevitable that I would break two hours at the next half marathon. When the next race came a few months later I finished at 2:00:04. Four seconds people!

At that point, I wanted to throw my running shoes over the nearest powerline (ala Marshawn Lynch) and give up forever. I would let my running dreams hang over the neighborhood by their treacherous laces as a reminder to all who saw them to never run. Running will break your heart.

One More Try

Instead of giving up though, I doubled down on my efforts. I found a partner who was a Boston Qualifier, aka much faster than me. I went back to the gym and committed to a cross-training plan. I showed up early mornings at what I call the unforgiving circle of torture or what you may know as the local track. I put in the work. I even took it easy when I got too soar. I did everything right, and you know what. I was running much faster than a two-hour pace.

Everything was working according to plan until another accident found its way into my plans. Seven days before my race where I was almost destined to obliterate my two-hour goal I allowed my momentum to carry me down a hill too fast and twisted my knee in an awkward way.

I wouldn’t be able to run my race. I wouldn’t make it to my goal.

Another Disappointment

What really upset me was that I had never worked so hard, been so consistent, and invested so much time towards a running goal. So many times I got to the finish line and know I didn’t do my best in preparation. This time I had. I truly did my best but wouldn’t get the satisfaction of finishing. It felt like something I paid for was taken from me right as it almost touched my fingertips.

But was there any lemonade to be made from these lemons? The thing that caused me the most pain, the amount of time I had invested in this goal, would ultimately by my saving grace. When I really thought about it, yes it was a sacrifice, but getting up early to run and going to the gym to workout was its own reward. I was healthy, had lots of energy, and felt good about myself. Making new friends and growing in relationship with old ones all came as a result of the journey to get to that under two-hour mark.

An Unexpected Destination

I didn’t make it to the finish line, but that was always only 1% of the experience anyway. If you can’t enjoy the other 99% of the process than you probably aren’t investing in the best thing for you. When I looked back over the time leading up to that disappointment I can happily say that I enjoyed the experience of preparation. The final destination was not the two-hour half marathon expected through. Instead, the journey took me to a place that taught me a new lesson in enjoying the journey.

Life is full of unfinished business, unrealized expectations, and unfulfilled dreams. If we measure life by destinations then we ignore the lessons and pleasures of the journey to those destinations. Many times God is not just leading us to somewhere or to do something but to become someone. I want to be someone who enjoys the journey and helps others do the same.