There are several parks around Irondale that are small but pretty in their own way. The Cahaba Landing & Riverwalk located off of Grants Mill Road outshines them all. I guess it isn’t a park so much as a trail and launch site.
It is maintained by the City of Irondale and follows through a southern portion of the city. The cities website states that if you launch from this site you can expect a 3-5 hour float down the Cahaba to take out points near Liberty Park. You can also launch north of Highway 78 and take out at the Grants Mill Road launch site.
I would suggest bringing your camera. You get an excellent view of the river and depending on the time of year there can be a wide variety of beautiful flowers and plants. We’ve walked this trail several times over the years (the first time I went to the launch site was about 14 years ago) and seen it change and grow over the years. Now it is a nicely maintained trail that you can walk but I unfortunately have no idea how long it is. I’ve also noticed a man once hiking at a fast pace across the other side of the river in the same direction as when you head down the trail. I’ve always been to afraid it’s private land to go check it out but maybe I will soon.
- Other than the first steep incline to get down to the water the trail is entirely flat.
- The trail is paved and/or hard packed in most places.
- At the end of the trail you will notice a split. Heading left just takes you back down the water, heading right takes you up and into hillier domain which I am unsure to whom it belongs. However, we’ve hiked up into the hills there with no incident.
- In the winter as you head out on the trail, don’t be afraid to go right up into the hills. There are several old roads and tell tale signs of ruins of old homes, if you know what to look for, that are just fascinating to explore. I say winter because this is the easiest time to find these old ruins and roads because the foliage has died down.
- There is at least one trash can to dump your doggie bags.
- A picnic table halfway entreats you to take a break and feed your pooch a snack (you too!)
- There are lots of side trails down to overlooks to the river, or if you’re a good scrabbler, you can climb down some of the less steep banks.
- If you are a geocacher- search for caches. There are several on the trail.
- I’ve on occasion found myself alone and run into some questionable (or interesting depending on your point of view) people who spooked me on the trail. It is an out of the way spot that is often frequented by teenagers and partiers (and has been for generations- I should know! I used to be one of those partying teens using this spot). Just be aware of this. Most often if you go during bright day hours you’ll only find evidence of their frivolities. On the morning we went we had to avoid puke in the trail for instance! Usually it’s just beer bottles or a stray piece of clothing. Still, thought you should know.
- It’s not quite long enough but if you go off the trail at the end or explore up into the woods you can make it feel much longer.
Directions: Take I-459N then take exit 27. Turn right onto Grants Mill Road and follow it until you see a dirt pull off with a circular stone entrance on your left.
Some links for further information:
River Access Page from Cahaba River Society.
Friends of the Cahaba Riverwalk website.
Click here to find a list of trails and launch sites to the Cahaba. You can limit the results to what kind of activity you are looking for (trail, scenic view, launch, heritage sites, etc) which was very handy!
Overall Score: 7 tail wags out of 10