On Alabama's eastern border, nestled amid gentle hills that overlook the mighty Chattahoochee River, is a cluster of four small textile mill townsShawmut, Langdale, Fairfax, and Riverviewall on the National Registry of Historic Places. In 1980 these villages incorporated as the city of Valley, a community of nearly 10,000 residents.
The Chattahoochee Valley Railroad served the region for nearly 100 years, carrying passengers, cotton, cloth, and supplies. But the trains stopped running in 1992, and in 2000 this corridor became a rail-trail that winds past the communities and historical sites.
The route begins in Shawmut along straight, quiet spans through tall pines, passing a few homes set back from the trail. Two miles along, in Langdale, the trail stops just shy of the moderately busy, two-lane US Highway 29. Cross the road here and pick up the trail again a block south, off 19th Avenue. Or consider a short side trip to the Chattahoochee River by heading east on 59th Street and taking an access road to the riverfront. You'll be rewarded with a stunning view of the river and may even spot a bald eagle.
Back on the trail, you'll pass several historical properties and bridgesmost notable is the Langdale Mill off the east side of the trail. Plans are underway to house shops and a conference center in the mill, which was originally built to stimulate the local economy following the Civil War.
Continuing south, the trail parallels local roads, passing the 1917 Fairfax Depot, today a museum (restrooms available). At Columbus Road a short section of the trail heads left (south); however, you can turn right (north, across 20th Ave.) to finish the last mile of the trail, passing through fragrant pines to Riverview along the Chattahoochee.
Continue your explorations of the Chattahoochee River on the Chattahoochee Riverwalk
, just over the border in Georgia.
Directions: From I-85, take Exit 77 in Valley. Turn east on Fob James Drive and follow it to Langdale, then turn left on US Highway 29/20th Avenue. Continue about two miles until you pass a Wal-Mart on your left. At the next light, turn left on 35th Street, then left on 22nd Street. Parking for the trail's Shawmut access point is at road's end.
City of Valley Parks & Recreation Department
P.O. Box 186
Valley, AL 36854