4 Great Views From Birmingham’s Scenic Overlooks

Surreal sunsets are guaranteed at Ruffner Mountain.
Surreal sunsets are guaranteed at Ruffner Mountain. Kelly Verdeck
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Too often, we get stuck in our day-to-day routines and forget that there’s an entire world outside to explore. Maybe it's time to look at things from a different point of view? Birmingham is surrounded by glorious overlooks to witness breathtaking vistas, inspiring sunrises and jaw-dropping sunsets—you just have to make the time to visit them. Here are a few of our favorite spots to add a different perspective to your outdoor experience.

1. The Vulcan Trail

The sun dips low from Vulcan Trail.
The sun dips low from Vulcan Trail. Max Wolfe

This paved, flat route is just below Vulcan Park and is about a mile in length. In the summer, the trees that line the path offer sweet shade. In the winter, the bare branches open up to display a grand view of the city. With Birmingham’s buildings spearing up from below and the mountain ridges sprawling beyond, it’s a sight that is guaranteed to take your breath away. It is the perfect backdrop for an early morning or late afternoon run.

2. Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve

Taking a backward glance at Ruffner Mountain.
Taking a backward glance at Ruffner Mountain. Kelly Verdeck

For a panoramic view of the Magic City’s skyline, you’ve got to check out Ruffner Mountain . Easy to access from any location in the Greater Birmingham area, we never get tired of visiting Ruffner Mountain as a scenic and fun-to-navigate location. You’ll certainly get your workout as you scale the trail to Hawk’s View Overlook, where you’ve got literally the best bird’s-eye view.

An ocean of trees blanket the distance between the overlook and the city, so depending on the time of year, your senses will be overwhelmed with color. In the fall, the leaves are lit aflame with brilliant reds and oranges. In the spring and summer, the limbs are loaded with greenery for miles.

3. Oak Mountain State Park

Clouds roll in over the horizon from Oak Mountain.
Clouds roll in over the horizon from Oak Mountain. Jennifer Burks

Oak Mountain State Park is known for so many great things, and the beautiful scenery is one of them. There are many opportunities to check out an overlook at Oak Mountain, so lace up your running shoes or hiking boots, grab a map and check them out. For an afternoon full of surreal landscapes, this is definitely the place to go.

4. Red Mountain Park

Red Mountain Park features two excellent overlooks from which to view Birmingham.
Red Mountain Park features two excellent overlooks from which to view Birmingham. Kelly Verdeck

Red Mountain Park  is the perfect playground for runners who like varied terrain and for walkers looking for scenic views. This park’s 14 miles of trails feature two picturesque overlooks that will make anyone stop and take notice. Take a glance at the park’s website for a trail map  that marks Grace’s Gap Overlook and Ishkooda Overlook to find your way to the spectacular views.

Magic City's buildings in the distance spearing into a clear blue sky, witnessed from Red Mountain Park.
Magic City's buildings in the distance spearing into a clear blue sky, witnessed from Red Mountain Park. Max Wolfe

In addition to the hiking trails, Red Mountain Park offers three tree houses, a 6-acre scenic dog park and the Red Ore Zip Tour , which offers a thrilling zip-line ride from tree to tree with views of Birmingham.

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