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A Jewel on the Mountain

Updated on September 26, 2019
Wayne Ruple profile image

Wayne Ruple has been writing about travel for several years and has his own website called World Wide Traveler.

With 14 miles of hiking trails meandering through varied terrain and a nature center/museum, Ruffner Mountain Wildlife Habitat is truly a hidden diamond for local, national and international visitors to Birmingham, Alabama


Leaves exhibit a wide variety of trees in the wildlife habitat
Leaves exhibit a wide variety of trees in the wildlife habitat | Source

"Please stay on the trail and keep clear of cliff edges. Some unusual terrain may be encountered on the mountain and old mining sites are inherently dangerous. Please respect others on the trail, and do not bring any sort of wheeled vehicle onto the mountain."

Visitors Are Greeted by Welcome Center/Museum

My first trip was truly a surprise as the main entrance was off a suburb street of Birmingham, Alabama and a sign told me I had arrived.

There were very few visitors to the habitat/preserve so I could leisurely go through the pavilion, wildlife center/museum and hike a bit on the entrance trails.

Weather looked like rain so i did not hike as much as I wanted but the park has 14 miles covering easy to difficult terrain, mostly throughout Ruffner Mountain. They are open daily dawn to dusk.

They do ask that visitors respect the wildlife and dont pick the flowers.

The Nature Center at the bottom of the mountain at the entrance contains an exhibit hall including the gray rat snake, native freshwater fish, speckled kingsnake, timber rattlesnake, Eastern box turtle, copperhead snake, red-eared slider, river cooter, yellow-bellied slider and two common musk turtles




A Rich Mining History

The portion of Ruffner Mountain making up the preserve was once a major iron ore mining site from the late 19th century through the 1950s.

The mines turned out over 200 tons of raw ore per day that was shipped to nearby Sloss Furnaces for processing.

You may spot many relics from the areas industrial past and you are asked not to take or move them so that the history can be preserved.

Exploration of all mines and caves is strictly prohibited.

A variety of trees and plants make up the habitat
A variety of trees and plants make up the habitat | Source

On this site you will also find an abandoned limestone quarry in which the fossil remains of ancient sea life (bryozoans, brachipods and corals) can be easily seen.

The Ruffner Mountain Nature Coalition now leases 28 acres of the former mining site from the City of Birmingham.

On this site you will also find an abandoned limestone quarry in which the fossil remains of ancient sea life (bryozoans, brachipods and corals) can be easily seen.

The old mining roads now serve as nature trails

Visitors will get an excellent introduction to the wildlife and wild plants and trees of Alabama as well as step back in local history and see what remains of Birmingham's great contributions to America's manufacture of iron and steel.

For those wanting to immerse themselves more, there are many programs offered to help you on your journey.


This covered area outside offers visitors a place to rest, picnic or hold meetings
This covered area outside offers visitors a place to rest, picnic or hold meetings | Source

Author focuses on travel/adventure

Wayne Ruple is an Alabama, USA based author, photographer and writer who has contributed to several national and international magazines including: THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS, STAMP WORLD, PAN AM CLIPPER, FATE, UNDERSTANDING, LOST TREASURE, NORTH-SOUTH TRADER, ANIMAL LOVERS MAGAZINE, AMERICAN LEGION MAGAZINE, COLLECTORS NEWS, ACCENT, THE SPOTLIGHT, UFO UNIVERSE, NATIONAL EXAMINER, ALABAMA LIVING, WESTERN & EASTERN TREASURES, WOODALL’S SOUTHERN RV, ALABAMA CONSERVATION and FLORIDA LIVING.

He has worked at various newspapers in his home state of Alabama including: The St.Clair News-Aegis, The Robertsdale Independent, The Sand Mountain Reporter and The Cleburne News.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Wayne Ruple

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