Vulcan Trail

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Vulcan Trail is a 1-mile-long, 12-foot-wide asphalt-paved walking and bicycle trail on the north slope of Red Mountain in Birmingham. The trail follows a section of the abandoned Birmingham Mineral Railroad bed from Vulcan Park (Lone Pine Gap) to 11th Place South. The trail provides several panoramic views over downtown and western Birmingham.

After the railroad was dismantled, beginning in the 1930s, the road bed continued to be used for hiking and mountain biking, as well as for illegal dumping. Neighborhood groups have staged periodic volunteer clean-up days to remove litter.

The trail was redeveloped by the City of Birmingham using $468,000 in federal grant money. The grant application was submitted by the city with the help of the Greater Vulcan Society in 1993. Planning began in 1994, contracted to Nimrod Long & Associates. Funding was approved in 1997.

As built, Vulcan Trail provides a handicapped-accessible asphalt-paved pathway. The trail surface is designed to support utility trucks accessing power and telephone lines on the mountainside. The trail's right of way was dedicated as a Birmingham City Park. A small parking lot was developed at the east end of the trail below Vulcan Park. Both ends have locking metal gates to control vehicular access. No lighting or fencing was installed as part of the project, causing some neighbors and South Precinct Captain Robert Walker Sr to voice concerns about safety.

Shortly after the trail was formally re-opened in 2003 erosion had caused at least one area of new paving to break away. Bhate Engineering was hired to evaluate the issue and recommend a solution. In 2004 the Friends of Vulcan Trail held a recruitment meeting to establish a group which would help keep the trail clean and promptly report any maintenance problems to the city.

Future plans include extending the trail to Green Springs Highway and eventually connecting it to Red Mountain Park.

References

  • Walsh, Maggie Hall (July 10, 1997) "Residents, police raise safety concerns about proposed Red Mountain trail." The Birmingham News
  • Coman, Victoria L. (July 10, 2002) "The Vulcan Trail: Old railroad route to become a path for walkers, cyclists." The Birmingham News
  • Coman, Victoria L. (November 12, 2003) "Newly paved Vulcan Trail shows signs of wear, tear." The Birmingham News
  • Coman, Victoria L. (July 1, 2004) "Vulcan Trail friends reset initial meeting." The Birmingham News
  • Helms, Russell (August 29, 2004) "It doesn't take an iron man to hike Vulcan Trail." The Birmingham News