The Five Mile Creek Greenway, as it passes through the small historic community of Brookside, provides access to the banks Five Mile Creek for about 3 miles. The Greenway trail begins at the end of the Bensko Park parking lot and winds along via a wide, level, well-maintained path above the creek through alternating groves of mature open-understory hardwoods and more-dense hardwood and second-growth thickets along the banks of the creek. This is not at all a challenging walk; it is perhaps at its very best in spring and fall when migrants may be abundant, but winter and breeding birds are also impressive here. Expect a good general mix of songbirds and woodpeckers. Red-shouldered, Cooper’s and Red-tailed Hawks are permanent residents; Broad-winged Hawks are seen in the warm months, and Sharp-shinned Hawks are sometimes present from October through March. Winter birds include a good variety of sparrows, kinglets, and possible Winter Wrens, Hermit Thrushes, and Brown Creepers. Barred and Great-horned Owls are both likely here. Special tip: Mississippi kites have been seen very nearby in summer. In spring and summer the creek attracts herons such as Great Blue Herons and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons. Louisiana Waterthrushes, and Wood Ducks also nest in the vicinity. Belted Kingfishers are present year around.
The Greenway is adjacent to Brookside’s 30-acre Bensko Park, which features 3 ball fields, a pavilion, and a paved walking track circling the open, grassy fields, which are dotted with groves of shade trees. When not in heavy use, the park offers good opportunities to see Eastern Bluebirds, Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Eastern Phoebes, and Chipping Sparrows, and some raptors. Loggerhead Shrikes are a possibility here, and American Kestrels are sometimes seen on the light poles in the cooler months.
Continuing east along Cardiff Rd., the Greenway Park makes a left on Park Avenue, and a final right on Market Street, and terminates at Main Street’s bridge over the creek. The bridge serves as a nesting site for Eastern Phoebes and Barn and Cliff Swallows.
Greenway Park incorporates a truly remarkable mix of habitats in close proximity. The hardwoods scattered through the more “park-like” portions of the park are good for Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Orchard Orioles, Black-and-white Warblers, and various flycatchers. There is a considerable amount of scrub and brush in the portions of the park that were formerly home sites. Those areas are full of Eastern Towhees, Carolina Wrens, and Field Sparrows, and are ideal spots to look for White-crowned Sparrows among the White-throated, Song, and Swamp Sparrows that appear in winter.
The Five Mile Creek Greenway is a cooperative project designed to restore and preserve the quality of Five Mile Creek from its headwaters on the westward base of Red Mountain to its junction with the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River. A local partnership of cities and towns, Jefferson County, Cawaco RC&D Council, Freshwater Land Trust, and the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham all joined to work to restore and preserve Five Mile Creek.
Directions: From the “new” US-78 (I-22 Interstate) in western Jefferson County, take Exit 89 and proceed north on Hillcrest Rd. In .7 mile turn left onto Cherry Ave. and follow on .6 mile. Turn right again on Brookside-Cardiff Rd (CR-112). In .5 mile bear right at the fork to remain on CR-112, which becomes Main St. In .9 mile turn left on Price St. and the Greenway is immediately ahead.
GPS: 33.638079 -86.919197
Brookside Town Hall
P.O. BX 142
Brookside, AL 35036
Amenities: Parking, restrooms, camping, picnic area, trail, fishing
Fee: Free for trail