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Birmingham's Kiwanis Vulcan Trail scales the ridge of the 1,025-foot Red Mountain. In summer, the tree-lined trail offers cool respite from the heat, while bare winter trees yield city views. Best of all, it takes little effort to enjoy this breathtaking scenery; like most rail-trails, the route is flat. The paved surface on the trail's eastern end is especially inviting for walkers, joggers and those taking pets for a stroll, while the gravel surface on the western end provides a more natural trail setting.
From the parking area, the path traces the route of the former L&N Birmingham Mineral Railroad. With roots as a steel town, Birmingham is one of the few geologic zones where one can find all three mineral components (iron ore, coal, and limestone) needed to make steel. The trail offers a bird's-eye view of many notable historic structures and areas, including the Arlington Antebellum Home and the Birmingham Civil Rights District, a six-block tribute to the civil rights movement that contains the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
The trail's eastern end is located by 10-acre Vulcan Park, home to the world's largest cast-iron statue and trail/park namesake. An Italian sculptor crafted the 56-foot statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, for the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis to showcase Birmingham's burgeoning industrial might. The park also houses the Vulcan Center, which traces the city's industrial past and offers rotating exhibits. The Vulcan Park and Museum also has restrooms, benches, and trash cans.
The Kiwanis Vulcan Trail is included in Birmingham's Jones Valley Trail network, which is part of the Red Rock Trail System, a developing 750-mile network of multiuse trails in Jefferson County. The Red Rock Trail System connects important destinations throughout the region such as Red Mountain Park, which—at 1,500 acres—is one of the largest urban parks in the country.
At the trail's eastern end, there is a parking lot with one accessible space where the trail meets Richard Arrington Boulevard just north of the Vulcan Park and Museum (1701 Valley View Dr, Birmingham), which also has several large free parking lots with accessible spaces. There is also plenty of parking at the trail's western trailhead (2285 Red Mountain Terrace S, Birmingham). Visit the TrailLink map for all options and detailed directions.
Birmingham's public transit system, BJCTA, provides convenient access to the trail. Visit the BJCTA website to plan your trip.
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