Welcome to the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve, the 1,038-acre sprawling space taking up parts Eastern Jefferson County, in Birmingham, Alabama. This Eastlake-adjacent neighborhood is full of great mining history and great hikes, most groups spending anywhere from 2.5-3 hours here during their visits. The wooded mountain slopes you see here are considered to be prime songbird country, the beautifully forested upland holding opportunity after opportunity for wildlife watching whilst hiking. That hardwood-filled mountainside also serviced the ‘Red Mountain’ Sloss at one point in history, the “Old Mineral Railroad’ coming through here and digging up all the iron-ore and limestone it could. Known then as the Sheffield Mines at the time, this area was one of the most industrious in the state for a period of time.
Groups will definitely want to visit the on-site Nature Center, a spot here that will explain more in detail about the facts of this, one of America’s largest privately held urban preserves. After a quick look around the interactive museum head outside to see the mining history for yourself, or perhaps take a historic hike! There are over 14 miles of trails here total, though the specific History Hike for mining artifacts is 3 miles long, typically taking 3.5 hours to see and learn it all. While the history here in the hills is obviously a main selling point for this spot, so is the photography opportunity, wildlife watching, and hiking opportunity in general. Look around and you will see all-age woodlands, Oaks and Hickory lining one side, Paw Paws and Basswood lining the other. Save just a little bit of time to hit the gift shop onsite here before you go as well, a really great spot to pick up historical and nature-related information on this region and preserve!