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OUTDOORS

Hiking and Outdoor Enjoyment ALDRIDGE GARDENS Aldridge Gardens, a 30-acre natural garden with a 5-acre lake, beautiful hydrangeas and now features the largest Frank Fleming Collection in the area, an art gallery on site and sculptures throughout the property. Aldridge Gardens is truly Birmingham area s best kept secret. Aldrige Gardens, Nature and Art in Balance. 3530 Lorna Rd, Hoover FOR MORE INFORMATION: 205-682-8019 or aldridgegardens.com

AVONDALE PARK Recent major renovations at Avondale Park led to revitalization in the area with the opening of Avondale Brewery, new restaurants, a pub and a fresh market. The 40-acre park has a 1,000-seat outdoor amphitheater, a large villa for events such as weddings and family reunions and a rose garden. The park also has small lake, baseball fields and other areas that are often in use for sports activities and cultural events. The park lies between 40th and 42nd Streets South and 5th Avenue South and Woodvale Rd. FOR MORE INFORMATION: 205- 254-2391

DORA S HORSE CREEK TRAIL Constructed along an old railroad bed, this easy three-mile hiking trail runs from T. S. Boyd School to U.S. 78 at the Horse Creek Golf Course. It s a combination of asphalt with an additional mile of unpaved nature trail. Five rest areas are along the route. GETTING THERE: The school is at 23 Austin Circle.

MOSS ROCK PRESERVE This 250-acre preserve has boulders for climbers of all skill levels. It is home to four rare plant species, rock outcroppings, streams, waterfalls and wildlife. The wilderness within the preserve continues to improve as hardwoods grow and age and trails become more defined by continued use. Maps and signs help direct and guide difficulty. For maximum mileage, take the loop made up of the Blue and White Trails, which is a little more than 3 miles long. Or just spread out in the shady coolness

of the preserve and picnic. Please remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints. For more information: 205-444-7866 or ci.hoover.al.us GETTING THERE: From I-459 in Birmingham take Exit 10 onto Alabama 150. Turn east toward downtown Hoover. Turn left on Stadium Trace Parkway. Stay straight; this road becomes Sulphur Springs Road. Go about two miles to the intersection with Preserve Parkway. This road leads to Moss Rock Preserve and to parking for the boulder field.

OAK MOUNTAIN STATE PARK Alabama s largest state park offers plenty of trails for hikers who want a peaceful outing apart from the mountain bikers. New park goers might want to try the EagleTrail or Treetop Nature Trail for starters, but those are only two of many. The Peavine Trail, four-and- a-half miles round trip, is moderate to difficult, but it s still a popular hike because of the payoff: It leads to Peavine Falls, which cascade down a rock wall and splash into a pool below.

Three suggested hiking loops begin at the North Trailhead. Maggie s Loop is an easy two- and-a-half-mile walk. North Loop is three-and- a-half miles long; it s rated easy to moderate because of some ascents. Shackelford Loop is rated moderate to difficult because of its six- and-a-half-mile length.

Maps for these and other Oak Mountain trails are available at the park office. FOR MORE INFORMATION: 205-620-2524 or alapark.com GETTING TO THE FRONT GATE: Take exit 246 off I-65. Turn west onto Alabama 119, left at the first light on State Park Road. Follow one mile to stop sign, and turn left onto John Findley Rd through the front gate into the park. GETTING TO THE BACK GATE: Take U.S. 280 to Alabama 119. Follow three miles to left turn at Oak Mountain Public Lake sign.

RAILROAD PARK A 21-acre park in downtown Birmingham gives the city a historically rich green space for recreation, concerts and cultural events.  Called the Railroad Park, the area is designed