PELHAM, Ala. – The Alabama State Parks System and Shelby County are ready to unveil a new family-friendly multi-use trail at Oak Mountain State Park. The aptly named 2.57-mile North Lakes Connector Trail begins at Lunker Lake at the north end of the park and connects to the rest of the Oak Mountain Trail system.
A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony will be Tuesday, August 29, at 6 p.m. Ken Thomas, Alabama State Parks System North Region Trails Coordinator, and Tina Chanslor, Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers president, will be on hand.
Shelby County built the trail using a Recreational Trails Program grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. The $60,000 ADECA grant was matched with up to $15,000 from Shelby County. The project costs came in under budget, according to Chad Scroggins, Chief Development Officer for Shelby County. Shelby County acted as the project manager, working with the State Parks System, and handled the construction, which started in May.
“We worked with the Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers mountain bikers club and the park to plan the trail,” Scroggins said. “Everyone agreed in the direction we took to make it best suited for the needs of Oak Mountain State Park.”
The trail connects the parking lots at Lunker Lake to the North Trail Head and pushes the total length of Oak Mountain’s mountain bike and running trails to 38.5 miles. Alabama’s largest state park also has 27 miles of equestrian trails and 31 miles of trails limited to hiking and running.
Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein praised the cooperation between the parks and Shelby County and BUMP. “This is another great example of the partnerships that make our parks great,” he said. “The North Lakes Connector Trail will give the novice hiker and rider a fun place to enjoy the outdoors as well as relieving parking pressure at the other trails when there are a lot of events going on in the park.
“Shelby County did a wonderful job with the trails committee at BUMP in planning and then building the trail.”
OMSP and Alabama State Parks Central District Superintendent Kelly Ezell said the new trail is perfectly suited for families. “We’re really excited about this trail,” she said. “It gives us an expanded parking opportunity for those who want to hike and bike and it’s a family-friendly trail. This is not a Black Diamond Trial that people can be challenged on. It’s a fun, family trail.”
Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock thanked the Shelby County Commission for its continued support in investing local resources toward the capital improvement projects at Oak Mountain. “On a high-use spring, summer or fall day, the trail heads can get congested, so connecting with these parking lots will spread out that parking pressure with Lunker Lake becoming a trailhead lot,” he said.
“This new trail segment is more of an entry level mountain bike and hiking trail. Some trails at Oak Mountain are more difficult and some are easier. This is more on the ‘beginner’ end of the spectrum. Not every trail needs to be difficult.
“Shelby County and the Alabama State Parks have more improvements in the planning stages for Alabama’s largest state park,” Dudchock said.
Oak Mountain State Park is attracting more and more trail running events, Scroggins said, with participants coming from all over. “These events allow folks from out of the county and from out of state to come in and utilize our parks,” he said. “That provides the opportunity for people to come here and stay and see what Shelby County and Oak Mountain State Park have to offer.”