The Phenix City Riverwalk in Russell County snakes along the banks of the Chattahoochee River for 1.21 miles. The trail is handicap-accessible and features segments of paved and gravel walkways, along with multiple bridges as its path follows the river along the Alabama-Georgia state line. The forest along the path tends to be open hardwoods along the east (river) side of the walkway, and generally thicker all-age hardwoods mixed with a few pines to the west side.
The bridges allow views directly into the mid- and upper story to the river side of the trail. Anticipate large numbers of Northern Parulas, Blue-grey Gnatcatchers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, American Redstarts, and Summer Tanagers from late March through early fall. To the west, there are White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos, Hooded Warblers, and Wood Thrushes.
Woodpeckers – primarily Downy and Red-bellied, plus a few Flickers, and Red-headed Woodpeckers – are found all along the trail. The wooded, protected trail borders the flyway that is the Chattahoochee River, making the park a good migrant trap. This, and the adjoining trail on the Georgia side of the river, can be the most productive migrant stopover spot for many miles. The Riverwalk incorporates many rich habitats, from the open waters of the Chattahoochee River to the numerous small wooded creeks that feed it. The Riverwalk packs a lot of birding opportunities in its mile and a quarter path.
In the warm months, look for swallows and martins, as well as Louisiana Waterthrushes. In the cooler part of the year, there may be Winter Wrens, Swamp and Song Sparrows in the roots and tangles, gulls and a few terns over the water. Expect Cormorants and Kingfishers, both more numerous from fall through spring, as well as scattered loons, Horned Grebes, and some other waterfowl in the coldest months.
Eastern Phoebes and Eastern Bluebirds are present along the trail throughout the year, and be watchful for Great-crested Flycatchers and Eastern Wood-pewees from April through September. Cedar Waxwings and other winter visitors can be spotted along the Riverwalk from November through at least April.
Juncos and sparrows can be common here from October through April. Check out the boulders just before reaching the 13th St bridge underpass. This area is very good for wrens (House and Winter from October through April) and sparrows, and can be productive for Palm Warblers, Yellowthroats, and other birds of the glades and scrub.
The trail continues to wind through woods and along the river until it finally rejoins the city at 21st Place. Just before this point is the City Mills Dam, a concentration point for wading birds, gulls (winter) and the occasional Bald Eagle or Osprey.
As of 2013 the Riverwalk extends for almost 1 ¼ miles, but there are plans to extend it in both directions, adding amenities along its course. A birding trip to the Riverwalk can be handled in almost any fashion. To cover the entire length of the trail deserves almost a half day to bird to completion, allowing ample time for multiple side trips off the paved walk to go to the river’s edge or to bird the boulder field and the dam. Even an hour spent along just the southern portion of the trail can be time very well spent. Spend as much or as little time as you can or must on the Riverwalk, but bear in mind that due to the linear nature of the site there are no shortcuts on the way back. The posted hours are dawn to dusk.
GPS: 32.464829 -84.999152
Phenix City Parks and Recreation (Mailing address)
1500 Airport Road
Phenix City, AL 36867
From the intersection of US-80 with US-431/280 in western Phenix City (Russell County), exit on 14th St and proceed east. 14th St. quickly becomes Crawford Rd. In 1.2 miles, bear right at the fork onto 13th St. and continue for .5 mile. At Broad St., turn right and enter the parking lot for the Phenix City Amphitheatre and the Riverwalk on the right in .4 mile.