Shoal Creek Park consists of 167 acres of largely open lands and wooded margins with Shoal Creek running through the property. Shoal Creek itself tends to have a good flow with riffles and slower moving stretches.
Blue Grosbeaks, Summer Tanagers and Indigo Buntings are in good numbers during the spring and summer months. Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks can be seen soaring overhead year round and Barred Owls can be heard calling in the evenings. Chimney Swifts and Swallows (Barn and Rough-winged) soar overhead Spring-Fall and Waterthrushes can be found here during that time as well. The fields may be productive for Bobolinks during migration and Loggerhead Shrikes nest here. Prairie Warblers can be heard singing over territory during spring and summer.
The property was donated in 2013 by Elizabeth “Betty” Mahler to the City of Montevallo for use as a city park to be named Shoal Creek Park. In late 2015, the nonprofit corporation Shoal Creek Park Foundation was established to oversee park development. However, the City of Montevallo maintains and operates the park as part of its Parks & Recreation Department.
Most of the park is in its natural state with existing and proposed hiking trails with scenic views of Shoal Creek. A gravel parking lot for 50 vehicles has been constructed about 175.0 feet (50.0 meters) from the historic Perry/Mahler house. A pavilion, restroom facilities and signage for the hiking trails are now available, with ideas for recreational and educational uses continuing to be developed.
There are several bridges, making crossing the creek easy and safe, and providing nice views of the watershed. Some trails are wide and even, making walking easy. There are a few narrow trails, with somewhat challenging stream crossings, but these are easy to manage for the inclined and easy to avoid for those looking for an easier walk.
Shoal Creek Park is located in the Cahaba Valley district of the Alabama Valley and Ridge physiographic region, part of the larger Appalachian Highlands, which is characterized by nearly level or gently sloping landforms of sandstone ridges and fertile limestone valleys. The Cahaba River is nearly 200.0 miles long with it headwaters near Birmingham in Shelby County. It flows south-southwest and joins the Alabama River in Dallas County. Cahaba Valley soils include gravel, sand, and clay, with chert and sandstone outcropping on the ridges. Shoal Creek and its relatively wide floodplain meanders roughly north-south and enters Little Cahaba River about 5.0 miles southwest of Montevallo. Other creeks in the vicinity include Spring Creek and Dry Creek to the east, Mayberry and Little Mayberry creeks to the west, and Davis Creek to the northwest. The Cahaba River Valley is about 10.0 miles to the west.
Shoal Creek Park is located at 2679 Montevallo Road (aka State Highway 119) about 1.0 mile northeast of Historic Downtown Montevallo. Montevallo Road is a main north-south road that connects the towns and rural communities in southwestern Shelby County, northeastern Chilton County and eastern Bibb County. Much of this region of central Alabama is rural and is mostly forests and pasture land. The metropolitan sprawl of the City of Birmingham (population around 212,000) is less than 10.0 miles to the north. Attractions in the Montevallo area include the University of Montevallo, a liberal arts college with 3,000 students; a neighboring educational institution called American Village; and the adjoining 480-acre Alabama National Cemetery established in 2009. Cahaba River Wildlife Management Area is 5.0 miles north-northwest and Talladega National Forest is 16.0 miles southwest.
The area nearest the gravel parking lot is relatively accessible, and includes a covered pavilion with picnic tables and restrooms. It is easy to see the creek from the pavilion, and a large field (partially mowed, and partially left natural) is easily viewed as well. The remainder of the park is relatively easy to walk, as most of the trails are hard packed natural soil that is kept mowed, but wouldn't be suitable for wheelchair usage. The trails offer some nice shady spots, but they do traverse large, open fields, so expect exposure to the elements. There are no benches available along the long trails, so plan accordingly if you need to rest while walking.
From Birmingham, AL, take I-65 S toward Montgomery. Take the US-31 exit, EXIT 238, toward Alabaster/Saginaw. Merge onto US-31 N/AL-3/1st St S toward Alabaster. Turn left onto Highway 119 S/AL-119/County Hwy-11. Continue to follow Highway 119 S. Highway 119 S becomes AL-119. 2679 Highway 119, Montevallo, AL 35115-8631, 2679 HIGHWAY 119 is on the right.
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