In the heart of Alabama’s River Region lies a quaint, small town with a big history. But, more importantly, Wetumpka, Ala., has an endless number of varied outdoor recreational opportunities. Located about 2o miles northeast of Montgomery on the Coosa River, Wetumpka calls itself the “City of Natural Beauty,” and has embraced the outdoor culture made possible by its spectacular surroundings. Whether you want to spend the day on the water or on the trail, you’ll find plenty of ways to enjoy a day in Wetumpka. Here's a quick primer to get you started.
Swayback Bridge Trail
Created and maintained by the Trail of Legends Association , bikers, hikers and trail runners will all appreciate this 12-mile trail sitting alongside Lake Jordan. Swayback consists of four different marked trail paths which vary greatly in topography. Trail maps are typically available at the trailhead for guests and mark 1-mile, 2.5-mile, 4-mile and 7-mile paths. Two races held annually are Attack on Swayback , a series of mountain bike races, as well as the Coosa River Challenge adventure race, which utilizes Swayback for mountain biking, trail running, orienteering and many different obstacles.
This historical park filled with forts and mounds (some more than 1,000 years old), is home to the William Bartram Nature Trail, a pathway built for hikers, runners and birdwatchers. However, the park also has many different unmarked paths, as well as a 39-site campground, equipped with bathhouses, picnic tables and grills. Two major events held at the Fort each year are Alabama Frontier Days and the French and Indian Encampment.
Jasmine Hill Gardens and Outdoor Museum
Known as “Alabama’s little corner of Greece,” this scenic landscape garden is full of Greek sculptures and differing seasonal blossoms and blooms. It includes a full-scale replica of the Temple of Hera in Olympia, where the Olympic flame is ignited every two years for the summer and winter games. A museum of Olympic memorabilia is houses on the property, as well as a wide variety of classic Greek sculptures and cultural artifacts. Because of its 20-acre spread, opportunities for hiking and enjoying the great outdoors are endless. Jasmine Hill is open year-round on weekends, and there is a fee for entry.
This beautiful 6,800-acre lake is the perfect spot for fishing and canoeing. Lake Jordan was created by damming the Coosa River to provide flood control and electrical power, but it has since flourished as a recreational spot. Fishing tournaments are held throughout the year, and two public boat ramps offer access to the water, The first, Bonner’s Point, lies on the west side of the lake in an area known as Slapout. On the other side of the lake, Rotary Landing provides access to those needing entry from the east, an area of the lake is known as Titus.
The Coosa River offers a unique compilation of rocks, cliffs and whitewater makes this picturesque body of flowing water a true delight for outdoor enthusiasts. The Jordan Dam is where kayakers begin their journey down the Coosa. Several whitewater rapids (and a few public parks) make this river an excellent place to learn and hone one’s kayaking skills.
Located about 20-30 minutes from Wetumpka, Lake Martin is one of Alabama’s largest bodies of water. The 44,000-acre lake boasts some of the best places for swimming, boating and kayaking in the state. The Adventure Center at Russell Crossroads is a great place to rent kayaks and mountain bikes and even has a shuttle to and from recommended locations nearby. Be sure to try out Springhouse , an award-winning restaurant, while you’re there.
Dining in Wetumpka
We all know how hungry a person becomes after a full day of adventure. The charming Our Place Cafe is a bit more formal and offers a menu of locally sourced surf and turf, all housed in an old brick warehouse. If you’re looking for something a little more casual, the Coaches Corner is a quality sports bar and local hangout. You'll find wings and other bar staples, along with some delicious salad and steak options—along with a breathtaking view of the Coosa River. If you just need a pick-me-up, the local coffee spot is River Perk , in the old First National Bank building. It offers coffee, tea and sodas, with plenty of nibbles to go alongside.