Birdwatching – The northwest loop of the North Alabama Birding Trail boasts more than a dozen sites located primarily in the Shoals area. Winding back and forth across three major sporting lakes along the Tennessee River, Wheeler, Wilson, Pickwick, these sites offer fantastic birding opportunities. Several sites are noted for their impressive congregations of winter birds – waterfowl, eagles, gulls – as well as a long list of rare or vagrant species to the state. Leighton Ponds, with its assemblage of flooded sinkholes, is one of Alabama’s best interior sites for shorebird migration. The Natchez Trace Parkway with its wooded, scenic byway offers Barred Owls and Wild Turkey. Another site on the historic Trace, Rock Springs, is renowned for its concentration of fall migrating hummingbirds. These sites and more make for great birding in the Shoals area. (256) 383-0783. www.northalabamabirdingtrail.com
Walking, Hiking, Biking Trails, Several miles of hiking, walking, jogging and biking trails are available to the public on the TVA Reservation located in Muscle Shoals and Sheffield. Nature and wildflower walks are scheduled on a regular basis. A six mile-bike trail through historic downtown Sheffield is accessible from N. Montgomery Avenue. Two trails travel north on Montgomery Avenue, through the historic district and Standpipe (overlook) and then alongside the water’s edge at Riverfront Park, looping back to the starting point. Fifteen miles of hiking trails are maintained in Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve, located just a few miles outside the city limits of Tuscumbia. The Natchez Trace Parkway, a short distance to the west, is a designated bicycle route and boasts a bike-only campground at Colbert Ferry (mile marker 327) on the Trace.
Hawk Pride Mountain Off-Road Park, 144 Mountain Side Road, Tuscumbia, AL 35674. This privately owned park offers a wide variety of offroading spread over 1,000 acres. Over 40 trails to accommodate everyone from the most sophisticated rock crawlers to simple 4X4s and ATV’s. A mud bog, food vendors, merchandise, wheelchair accessible shower house and restrooms, camping pads for RVs and primitive camping are available. Park is open the 1st and 3rd weekend of every month with spectator and special events posted on website. (256) 577-1034) www.HawkPrideMountainOffroad.com
Seven Springs Lodge, 1532 Mt. Mills Road, Tuscumbia, AL 35674. This facility offers horseback-trail-riding (bring your own horse and tack or rent from facility). Organized equestrian group trail rides held throughout the 3,500 acres of meadow and woodland, dotted with waterfalls and caves. Shiny, silver grain silos, outfitted as bunkhouses, along with campsites and horse stalls, make this site a popular overnight destination or weekend retreat. Open year round. Rattlesnake Saloon, situated within a Native American bluff shelter, provides lunch and dinner with evening entertainment – Th, F, Sa. (256) 370-7218 www.SevenSpringLodge.net
Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve, 251 Loop Road, Tuscumbia, AL 35674. A 700-acre, privately owned, scenic, natural area in the Little Mountain region of southern Colbert County. The preserve is organized around a complex of small canyons with rugged topography, including a number of waterfalls, boulder fields and Native American rock shelters. Open year-round to the public for hiking and other outdoor recreational activities. There are more than 15 miles of maintained hiking trails that lead the hiker to scenic canyon overlooks, rich wildflowers areas, creek cascades and other attractions. The purpose of the preserve is to protect this unique and biologically diverse natural area for educational activities, ongoing scientific study and public recreational use. Hours: Daylight, year round. Maps available on site. Free. (256) 381-6301. See us on Facebook
Historic Tuscumbia (“One of Alabama’s Best Collections of 19th century architecture from the antebellum period.”) The town of Tuscumbia is centered by its quaint downtown, which includes the majestic Colbert County Courthouse, a restored train depot, early churches and many historic homes. More than 100 buildings remain from the antebellum period. A 6-block area along Main Street holds some of Alabama’s earliest commercial buildings, including the Sutherland Building and Commercial Row. Helen Keller’s father, Capt. Arthur Keller, edited a newspaper in one of these brick buildings and many are restored to house specialty shops and restaurants. The south end of Main Street culminates at Spring Park, site of the town’s founding (c.1815), where a cool spring flows from limestone rock over a picturesque waterfall. Chickasaw Chief Tuscumbia was honored by early white settlers in the naming of the town. National Register Historic District. Signage marks historic structures over 100 years old. A Historic Tuscumbia Walking/Driving Tour brochure is available. (See Events for Summer Walking Tours and Trolley Tours.) (256) 383-0783 www.VisitTuscumbiaAL.com
“Rock of Ages Trail” Take a driving tour past 18 cherished churches of Colbert County. These church buildings are at least 100 years old with the congregations in most cases being even older. The architecture ranges from simple log, to primitive wooden, to rock and brick. Of varied denominations, a brochure presents these churches as the “Rock of Ages Trail.” (256) 383-0783 www.colbertcountytourism.org
Tuscumbia Railway Depot, 204 West 5th St., Tuscumbia, AL 35674. This 1888 restored passenger depot was utilized by both the Memphis and Charleston and Southern Railway companies. In it’s early years, the depot was used often by Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan. Today it is a museum dedicated to rail memorabilia. A Keller family carriage occupies one room of the museum. Tuscumbia boasts the first railroad west of the Appalachian Mountains. Admission. (256) 389-1357. www.tuscumbiarailway.com. Open by appointment.
Coldwater Stagecoach Stop, 302 South Dickson St., Tuscumbia, AL 35674. Built as early as 1815, this small hewn-log cabin served as a stagecoach stop on the Jackson Military Road and is believed to be one of several cabins operated as a hotel by Michael Dickson, the first white settler to Tuscumbia. (256) 383-0783. www.VisitTuscumbiaAL.com
. Open by appointment.
Colbert County Courthouse, 200 North Main St., Tuscumbia, AL 35674. This stately building, the brick walls of which date back to its construction in 1881, houses county government and serves as the centerpiece of the surrounding Tuscumbia National Register Historic District. This district is extensive and includes structures from the early days of the town’s history, through the early twentieth century. The dome and columned porticoes were added when the building was rebuilt in 1908 following a fire. Visit the U.S. War Veterans Memorial, the Circle of Valor, on the grounds at the northeast corner and the monument honoring Confederate soldiers of the county that were killed during the Civil War. (256) 386-8500. www.ColbertCounty.org Hours: M – F 8 am – 4:30 pm. Free.
North Alabama Speedway, 12200 Hwy. 247, Tuscumbia, AL 35674 This racing facility contains an 1/8th mile asphalt drag strip and a 3/8 mile, semi-bank clay oval. Racing divisions include Super Late Models, Late Model Stock/Crates, Modified Street and Mini Stocks. (256) 381-5051. www.northalabamaspeedway.com. Dragway open on Th at 5 pm.; Speedway open on F at 4 pm.
LaGrange College Site Park, 1461 LaGrange College Rd., Leighton, AL 35646. Established in 1830 as Alabama’s first college, LaGrange soon became known as “The West Point of the South.” The college was destroyed by Union forces led by Colonel Florence M. Cornyn and his “Destroying Angels.” Today, the historic site has been recreated with a pioneer village, including a welcome center and museum, restored cemetery and park with pavilion. Recall LaGrange (annual event) remembers LaGrange College, “West Point of the South,” and the destruction of the school and village by Union forces during the Civil War. Reenactment, (256) 446-9324. www.recall-lagrange.00me.com. Hours: Park open daily from 9 am – 5 pm. Welcome Center/Museum open
Su 1- 4 pm or by appt. Free. Gift Shop.
Coon Dog Cemetery, 4945 Coondog Cemetery Rd., Cherokee, AL 35616. Over 300 coon dogs have been laid to rest in the scenic “Freedom Hills.” Unique headstones and epitaphs pay tribute to man’s best friend. Key Underwood’s raccoon hunting dog, Troop, was the first dog buried here on Labor Day in 1937. The Coon Dog Labor Day Celebration is held at the world’s only Coon Dog Cemetery. Enjoy “old time” bluegrass music, buck dancing, barbecue, and a liar’s contest. STS Top 20 event. Labor Day. Free (256) 383-0783. www.coondogcemetery.com. www.facebook.com/coondogcemetery Open daylight hours, daily, year round. Free.
Belle Mont Mansion, 1569 Cook Lane, Tuscumbia, AL 35674. Belle Mont is one of early Alabama’s crowning architectural achievements. It is one of the most outstanding Palladianstyle houses in the Deep South. The mansion has a raised, two-story central section with flanking, one-story wings and a U-shaped floor plan that embraces a courtyard. This architecture is reflective of Thomas Jefferson’s early designs; a similar plan is preserved among Jefferson’s drawings at Harvard University. (256) 381-5052. www.preserveala.org. Hours: Th – Sa 9 am-4 pm; Su 1- 5 pm. Admission.
Tennessee Valley Museum of Art, 511 North Water St., Tuscumbia, AL 35674. This regional art center is a venue for cultural activities. Galleries provide annual and rotating exhibits, juried fine art and craft shows, workshops for adults and children. The Martin petroglyph exhibit is permanent and may be seen at any time. (See website for Exhibit Schedule.) (256) 383-0533. www. tvaa.net. Hours: M – F 9 am – 5 pm; Su. 1-3 pm. Admission. Gift Shop.
Alabama Music Hall of Fame
The outstanding achievements and the music of Alabamians are presented in this state museum. “Father of the Blues” W.C. Handy, “Father of Rock and Roll” Sam Phillips and Percy Sledge (“When a Man Loves a Woman”), all Shoals natives, are among the prestigious inductees. You’ll hear rocking rhythms and soul touching melodies as you admire the vast memorabilia from the lives and careers of more than 1,000 stars, representing all styles of America’s music. The world-famous music recorded at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, is featured and a signature Mississippi Blues Trail marker recognizes the far-reaching influence of the Muscle Shoals sound and its originators.
Toll free (800) 239-2643
Hours: M-Sa 9 am-5 pm