|The sign leading into Rock Bridge Canyon|
In outdoor adventure is waiting to be revealed in the sleepy town of Hodges. Rock Bridge Canyon boasts 27 miles of hiking and equestrian trails that can satisfy leisure seekers and challenge seekers alike.
Located in northwest Alabama in Franklin County, Rock Bridge Canyon is home to some of the most striking vistas in the state. Streams, waterfalls and rock formations are just some of the gorgeous scenery to be enjoyed.
Miles of winding trails offer hours of relaxing serenity for walkers and hikers. The canyon has acres of woodlands with stunning overlooks and other points of interest. The canyon is open to day visitors as well as campers who want to stay for a few days.
|Director Mike Franklin|
Trails along the canyon are comprised of an old railroad bed, Bear Creek Development property, and property belonging to neighboring landowners, said state Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow.
"We don’t want this to be the best kept secret in Alabama," said Morrow, referring to the park. "We want it broadcast to everyone."
Morrow especially wanted to thank the private landowners who gave easements to the park and the town council of Hodges for its foresight in supporting the park.
One of the highlights of the canyon is the natural rock bridge that is 100 feet high and 82 feet long. In addition, sightseers can take in a breathtaking view from 285 feet above the canyon atop the largest rock in the state.
While the park is accommodating to hikers, in the main it is designed to appeal to equestrians. A quick Google of the park will return high praises for the trails that prove challenging to experienced riders. Activity Director Tina Lawler assures the public that more leisurely trails are located within the canyon as well. She noted that families are particularly fond of the area.
To accommodate those who wish to stay overnight or longer, the park has lodging available. Numerous camp sites exist with eight of them having full power, water and sewage. Sixteen more have power and water, and primitive sites are also on site.
"Our camp sites are designed uniquely for horse riders," said Director Mike Franklin. "Most horse camp sites are in big, open fields. We designed our camp sites so there are trees on each site."
|Left to right, the canyon has acres of woodlands with stunning overlooks and other points of interest. This is just one of the beautiful waterfalls.|
Horse stalls are located by the camp site that are approximately 60 feet long and feature a pull-through design. Horse stalls are 12 feet square and have access to water. Buckets, muck tools and shavings are offered free of charge; however, water buckets, feed troughs and hay bags are not provided.
A shuttle service is available for riders who desire to be picked up or dropped off at a particular point along the trail, said Franklin. A camp store is on site, as well as a full kitchen and living room with a TV set. Dogs are welcome at the park.
|Left to right, covered horse stalls are located directly across from the camp sites. Trail riders enjoy a trip through Rock Bridge Canyon.|
Bath houses are located on the premises and have electricity and private stalls.
One cabin is available for rent. Anyone wishing to camp or rent the cabin should make a reservation by calling 205-935-3499.
Franklin, who began as a volunteer, explained that the park was actually a community-wide project and boasted of many volunteers who helped get the venture off the ground. He also noted the park is reclaiming many of the trails that existed during the 1950s when the park was first opened to the public.
|Activity Director Tina Lawler|
Franklin said the park’s goal is to have 55 miles of horse trails in the near future. In addition to acquiring the land and/or permission to use the land for the additional trails, Franklin and a team of volunteers are responsible for building the trails.
In addition to trail rides and hikes, the park can host benefits and events such as rodeos or weddings. Contact Lawler for more information.
Upcoming events include a Daylight Savings Time Ride on Saturday, March 15, and a Spring Kick-off Ride on Saturday, April 26. Both rides begin at 9 a.m.
Fees for the canyon start at $10 per day, depending on services needed. Regular visitors may wish to purchase an individual or family membership on a yearly basis.
Susie Sims is a freelance writer from Haleyville.