The last few months have gone by at a glacial pace that for many has felt like a year or two while they’ve been at home with kids who haven’t seen their friends or been out of the house since schools shut down in the beginning of April. Even essential workers who have still been leaving the house daily have for weeks now been stuck with not much to do besides go to work and come home. Everyone is a little stir crazy with a case of cabin fever.
As of today the shelter-in-place order in Alabama is no more. We are now under a “safer-at-home” order, which basically says we should police ourselves about being safe, but if we really want to go out, we can. Just, not to bars or restaurants or a few other places … and we should still maintain social distancing for now.
With that in mind, many families are looking for ways to get outside and take advantage of the lovely May sunshine and moderate temperatures. These are a few of the places you can go with the kids – or not – right here in Bibb County, Alabama, to enjoy the great outdoors and still be able to avoid other people and groups by having plenty of room to spread out. In no particular order, we present 8 Places to Go in Bibb:
1 – Bibb County Lake
I still remember catching a big stringer of bluegill there with my dad when I was maybe five years old. Almost everyone who lives in Bibb County has probably been there at some point, and those who haven’t certainly should give it a try if they like outdoors activities. For convenience, it is fairly central to the county, being off Highway 5 between Brent and West Blocton.
Walter Owens Park/Bibb County Lake offers fishing, boating, and picnicking for small fees to help maintain the park. There is a boat launch, bait shop, and a covered picnic pavilion. A look at their Facebook page shows that people are having some pretty good days bringing in the fish lately!
2 – Brierfield Ironworks Historic State Park
Aside from being a wealth of goodies for a history nut – especially those interested in Civil War history – the Brierfield Ironworks offers many things for families to enjoy even when there isn’t an event going on like a Civil War reenactment or a muzzle loader shoot. There are hiking trails, a playground, a creek, and picnic and camping facilities.
According to their website, the park offers:
- Historic ruins of the Bibb Naval Furnaces
“Major Confederate ironworks during the Civil War”
- Pioneer style homes and buildings
- Hiking and Nature Trails
- J. Henry Jones Country Store
- Swimming Pool
- Special Events
- West Alabama Birding Trail Site
Check them out soon if you haven’t, and be sure to see the old ironworks ruins and learn about the substantial role they played in the actions of the Civil War.
3 – Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge
Friends of the Cahaba as well as Cahaba Lily enthusiasts already know about this great place to get outdoors. With the recently re-done road and steady clean-up efforts there, this is a gem in northern Bibb. Go for the walk-in access to the river along the rocky lily fields that canoes and kayaks frequent, and stay for the serenity of the trail, woods, and wildlife you’ll see.
The CRNWR is also a point on the Cahaba Blueway, an outdoor recreation and conservation effort that has two access points supported in Bibb County.
4 – Cahaba Riverwalk and Canoe Launch
Nestled next to the Howard Cooper Bridge over the Cahaba River in Centreville, the parking area for the Bibb County Chamber of Commerce doubles as a parking area for the Riverwalk Trail. Just past the Chamber building, however, you will find a separate parking area for those with canoes and kayaks to launch or take out.
The Riverwalk project has gone through a lot of developments and as well as a few setbacks in the last few years as Cahaba Medical Care has taken the lead on renovations. The push has paid off. With a freshly reworked walking trail, brand new handicap-accessible river overlook, and a sturdy canoe launch, it offers a great way to enjoy the sights and sounds of the river. It is the second of the Cahaba Blueway access points in Bibb County.
Go to the red dot. The Riverwalk does not currently show up on Google Maps.
5 – Coke Ovens Park
You may wonder like I did upon first hearing about it, “What are coke ovens?” The best way to find out is to visit the park! These relics of 1800’s iron production are odd looking, but hold a ton of historical significance to the Town of West Blocton in northern Bibb County. As a bonus to history enthusiasts, the park offers a picnic pavilion, walking trails, a playground, and restrooms. Stop by Lemley’s Tiger Hut in downtown West Blocton on your way for some fantastic carry-out burgers for your picnic.
6 – Heritage Park
Off the main route in Brent is a hidden gem of a place to play or have a family picnic. Heritage Park has plenty of room to throw a Frisbee, toss a ball around, or just get some sun and air while keeping your distance from others. There is also a children’s playground.
- Website: City of Brent – Recreation
7 – Brent Walking Track
If you just need some fresh air and sunlight, Brent’s walking track by the roundabout has you covered. There is a well paved mostly level walking track, with work-out stations at various points around it. The smooth surface is accomodating to baby strollers, and a children’s playground near the parking area entrance is convenient.
- Website: City of Brent – Recreation
8 – Woodstock Walking Track
Much like the Brent walking track, but in Woodstock. This convenient, well maintained track is located next to Woodstock Town Hall and Senior Center.
- Website: Town of Woodstock – Recreation
Go out, get the kids out of the house, get some sunlight and fresh air (proven to help fight depression, which can often and easily be caused by being stuck inside too long), and enjoy your weekend! Just remember: the threat of COVID-19 is far from over.
Retailers may be open, but we are still urged to use caution. Hospitalizations and deaths from the disease are still on the rise, even though the curve has currently flattened and the speed of the spread has slowed. Remember that it’s because we have stayed away from each other – for the most part – that these things have gotten some better. Be responsible and don’t help make it worse again. Keep your distance, cover your cough, wear a mask where appropriate, and wash your hands regularly.