Paul M Grist State Park

Black Belt | Dallas | Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Winter

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Paul M Grist State Park encompasses 1,080 acres of  mature pine-oak forest with a healthy understory of shrubs and some native grasses. It harbors a fine assortment of the region’s songbirds: breeding Northern Parulas, Yellow-throated, Hooded, Kentucky, Pine, and a few Black-and-white Warblers and Eastern Wood-Pewees are fairly easy to locate throughout the mature woodlands. You’ll also find Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, Great Crested Flycatchers and Summer Tanagers.

This is a good place to observe Pileated Woodpeckers and Brown-headed and White-breasted Nuthatches throughout the year. The 100-acre lake is home to Wood Ducks and attracts small rafts of wintering waterfowl in the cooler months. Purple Martins, Belted Kingfishers and swallows–mostly Barn and Rough-winged, but more and more Cliff and Tree each year–course the lake for food. You’ll see Red-shouldered, Red-tailed, and Cooper’s Hawks, Barred and Horned Owls and Eastern Screech-Owls throughout the year, as well as Broad-winged  Hawks and Mississippi Kites in the warmer months. The shoreline of the lake is often populated by herons and egrets, particularly in late summer and fall. Ospreys and Bald Eagles occasionally stop by the lake, too.

The hiking trail is a must-do as it passes through multiple habitats. You’ll see Common Yellowthroats, Yellow-breasted Chats, a few Prairie Warblers, Chipping and Field Sparrows, American Goldfinches and Indigo Buntings in the emergent second-growth patches. Louisiana Waterthrushes, Acadian Flycatchers, Prothonotary Warblers and perhaps a few Swainson’s Warblers find refuge in the small creeks and backwaters around the lake. Look for Winter Wrens along the roots and tangles near the lake in winter.  Do not neglect the woods lining the entrance road: the mature trees constitute a terrific migrant trap in spring and fall and are a fine place to observe mixed-species feeding flocks in the winter months.

Paul M Grist State Park has 7 miles of maintained hiking trails, camping, picnic tables, boat rentals for use on the park’s 100-acre lake, swimming and  fishing opportunities. A single road winds through the park-a right hand fork leads to a primitive camping area to the south. A left (north) turn at the fork directs the the visitor toward the fishing center, as well as a playground, picnic shelter, restrooms, and the access point for the lakeside hiking trail. The park is open 7 days a week, year-round.

Directions: From the intersection of AL-14 and AL-22 in Selma (Dallas County–fuel, food, and lodging available), proceed north on Al-22 for approximately 11 miles. Turn left (west) on CR-222 and follow 1.7 miles. Turn right (north) on CR-37. The entrance to Paul M Grist State Park is on the right in approximately 1 mile.

GPS: N 32.597517 W -86.991048

Paul M Grist State Park
1546 Grist Rd.
Selma , AL 36701

Leaders from Dallas County and the State of Alabama have reached an agreement to reopen Paul Grist State Park, one of 5 parks that was closed in the wake of budget cuts at the start of the new fiscal year back in October. The park has reopened and is again available for birding! A couple of months ago the Alabama State Parks System was forced to implement a new contingency operations plan that included the closure of a number of parks and park operations. The plan also included a reduction in staff and operational hours at additional parks and park facilities, as well as a potential concession operation for one facility and other new approaches to serving the public. Beginning October 15, the following five parks were closed: Bladon Springs, Paul Grist, Chickasaw, Florala and Roland Cooper. We are happy that we were able to reach an agreement where the Alabama State Parks retains ownership and through a lease, Dallas county will handle the operations and management of the park. Finding ways to keep the parks open has been important and this is a great example of the healthy partnerships between state and local governments.

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