Birmingham's mile-long Vulcan Trail scales the ridge of 1,025-foot Red Mountain. In summer, the tree-lined trail offers cool respite from the heat, while bare winter trees yield city views. Best of all, it takes little effort to enjoy this breathtaking scenery; like most rail-trails, the route is flat.
The paved surface is especially inviting for walkers, joggers and those taking pets for a stroll.
From the parking area, the path traces the route of the former L&N Birmingham Mineral Railroad. (With roots as a steel town, Birmingham is one of the few geologic zones where one can find all three mineral componentsiron ore, coal, and limestoneneeded to make steel.)
The trail offers a bird's-eye view of many notable historic structures and areas, including the Arlington Antebellum Home and the Birmingham Civil Rights District, a six-block tribute to the civil rights movement that contains the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, site of an infamous 1963 Ku Klux Klan bombing that killed four young black girls.
The route runs below 10-acre Vulcan Park, home to the world's largest cast-iron statue and trail/park namesake. An Italian sculptor crafted the 56-foot statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, for the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis to showcase Birmingham's burgeoning industrial might. The park also houses the Vulcan Center, which traces the city's industrial past and offers rotating exhibits. While the park remains inaccessible from the trail, plans call for that to change.
Parking and Trail Access
Directions: From I-65, take Exit 256-A/Oxmoor Road and drive east about a mile toward Homewood; Oxmoor becomes Palisades Boulevard. Turn right on Valley Avenue, drive 1.6 miles, then turn left on Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard. The trailhead is 0.2 mile down on the left.
Vulcan Trail Association
P.O. Box 382754
Birmingham, AL 35238-2754
Vulcan Park Foundation
1701 Valley View Drive
Birmingham, AL 35209