BY ANGELA DAVIDSON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID BUNDY
Spring is the perfect time to get outdoors and discover adventure. Whether you are an avid outdoorsman or just looking for a change of pace, the River Region has plenty of options.
Bike the Swayback Trail
Don’t let the word ‘bike’ steer you away from visiting the Swayback Trail off of U.S. Hwy 231 in Wetumpka. The Swayback Trail is a 12 mile loop with scenic views alongside Lake Jordan that is open to both mountain bikers and hikers. The trail is maintained by the Trail of Legends Association (trailoflegends.org) and is quickly becoming known as one of the area’s best trails.
MAX member, Ed Clapp enjoys biking the trail almost every weekend. He first experienced the trail four years ago when a friend asked him to come along for a ride. “I didn’t have any of the right gear,” says Clapp. “I didn’t even have gloves. I just came out here and fell in love with it.”
One of the best features of Swayback Trail is that it is free and open for anyone to enjoy. While the entire trail covers 12 miles, trail maps are provided on site and show options for trails ranging from one mile to seven. Trail markings make the take-along maps easy to follow.
According to trail reviews from SingleTracks.com, Swayback does have some tight technical sections along with some steep climbs and descents, but overall is rated as an intermediate trail.
“Whether you are a seasoned rider or just starting out, anyone can ride this trail,” says Clapp. “There is something for riders of every skill level. Some trails are easy enough for less skilled riders and other sections offer a challenge.”
“The trail is a great place to go and get away from it all,” says Clapp. “I enjoy being able to ride with friends and meet other riders. Sometimes I meet riders who are not from the area, but have heard or read something about Swayback Trail and have come just to check it out. They are always glad they did, and I am glad I did too.”
Experience the Coosa
The Coosa River is a great day-adventure for anyone looking for a change of pace. There are several different outfitters in the area that offer both canoe and kayak rentals. One popular starting point is the base of Jordan Dam. According to RiverFacts.com, this stretch of the Coosa River is seven miles long and is rated by American Whitewater as a Class I-II for its rapids, with one Class III rapid. To learn more about rapid classifications and river safety tips, visit americanwhitewater.org.
MAX Card Service Specialist, Rachel Lloyd, makes canoeing the Coosa part of her summer plans each year. “It is one of my favorite things to do. It takes about three hours to finish. You can stop on the rocks along the way and have a picnic lunch and watch other kayakers go down the rapids over and over again. It is great fun,” said Lloyd.
Visit the Alabama Nature Center
To simply enjoy the beauty of the outdoors without all of the effort of mountain biking or canoeing, take time to plan a visit to the Alabama Nature Center located at Lanark in Millbrook.
The Alabama Nature Center (ANC) is a joint project of the Alabama Wildlife Federation and benefactors Isabel and Wiley Hill. It contains 350 acres that highlight the splendor of Alabama’s wildlife. In the spring months, ANC is covered with blooms of trailing azaleas, oak leaf and big leaf hydrangeas and camellias. ANC is a planned-use outdoor education facility that focuses on offering educational programs to school groups and teacher workshops. It is open to the public the third weekend of every month. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for youth ages, 4-12, and free for children 3 and under.
During the public weekends, visitors can enjoy exploring five miles of scenic trails and learn about Alabama’s wildlife through interpretive signs along the trail. ANC is divided into three main trails: Hilltop Pass, Still Creek Run, and Turkey Ridge. Visitors can also enjoy a picnic lunch at the ANC pavilion.
In addition to the general public weekends, ANC offers a variety of different programs that are also open to the public. Check the ANC schedule below for a list of special springtime events.
From Wetumpka, take U.S. Hwy 231 N. to Wallsboro. Turn left on Old Hwy. 231. There is a brown sign that directs you to the Swayback Trail. Travel approximately 2.5 miles and then turn left towards the Jordan River Dam. Parking will be on the left side of the road.
Coosa Outdoor Center
172 River Road
Coosa River Adventures
415 Company Street
Alabama Nature Center
3050 Lanark Road
Alabama Nature Center's Spring Calendar of Events
Alabama Flora and Fauna Art Show
ANC Floral Weekend
ANC Fishing Weekend
Snakes of Alabama