The 12-miles of trails at Ruffner Mountain are simply perfect for trail runners and hikers. Exclusively designed for them (no mountain bikers or motorized vehicles) and offering great views of downtown Birmingham, this place is a must-visit for foot-travel enthusiasts.
Ruffner Mountain is another relic of Birmingham’s mining past that has since been turned into a beautiful park. Encompassing 1,036 acres, it is one of the largest urban nature preserves in the country. Sitting atop a ridge overlooking downtown Birmingham and many of its suburban neighborhoods, this park is laced with 12 miles of trails that lead to a variety interesting park features. There are relics of the mining past, a large sheer-walled quarry, several overlooks of the surrounding city, and a LEED Gold-certified building that serves as the park’s visitor center.
What Makes It Great
The trails here are the exclusive domain of hikers and runners. Neither bicycles nor motorized vehicles are allowed on the park trails, so unlike some of the other trail running or hiking destinations in town, this is one place you can lose yourself in the beauty of the trail and not worry about a head-on with an approaching cyclist or car.
We like to enjoy the wildflowers and gentle grades of the Trillium Trail before tackling the challenging Ridge and Valley Trail, which will eventually wind you to the defining feature of Ruffner Mountain: the quarry. Once there, either slow your pace and explore the bottom of the quarry, or add mileage by going along the high rim of the quarry along the Possum Loop Trail. By the time you make it back to the visitor center, this full route will give you a challenging 5-mile run or hike. Try the Overlook trail for a thigh-burning incline, and for an amazing hawk’s-eye view of the city skyline. One of the easier routes would be Lizard Loop, which is right at a mile long and has little change in elevation. This is a great one for beginner runners, or a runner that wants to worry less about footing and more about speed. Lizard Loop was formed as part of an old rail bed, so the pathway is flat and smooth.
Who is Going to Love It
History Buffs will love the wealth of history in this location. Get a lesson while you run! You’ll have plenty of entertainment with the hidden old mine ruins to discover along the way. The abundant wildlife, humongous southern Alabama trees shading your head. If you are a nature lover that also likes to run, Ruffner Mountain is the perfect place for you to enjoy both passions at once. Don’t forget to bring your camera, either for post-run photos or to carry along the way, because Ruffner Mountain’s picturesque scenery.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
At a convenient location and easy to find, Ruffner Mountain is definitely worth the visit From I-59 N, take exit 132 for HWY 11 N. Take a right onto 83rd Street N, and continue onto Rugby Ave. Take a left onto 81st Street S, and keep left onto 81st Alley S. Ruffner Mountain entrance is just ahead!