Spring has sprung and people are emerging from hibernation looking for adventures. Rickwood Caverns, Palisades Park, Mardis Mill, city and historical parks, covered bridges, and golf courses are just a few of the wonderful places Blount County has to enjoy.
The bridges of Blount County
Blount County is fortunate to have three covered bridges that continue to be one of the reasons people visit Blount County. Originally home to 12, the three remaining are a way to step back in time.
• Located about five miles north of Oneonta on Ala 75, Horton Mill Bridge stands 70 feet above the Calvert Prong of the Warrior River and is the highest bridge above water in America.
• Spanning 27 feet above the Locust Fork River, Swann Bridge is a 14-foot, three-span bridge stretching 324 feet across the rocky river bed. It is located northwest of Cleveland, one mile off Ala 79.
• The shortest of Blount County’s bridges is Easley Covered Bridge. Standing 18 feet above water and only 95 feet long, it is the county’s oldest surviving covered bridge and considered to be the most picturesque. Easley Covered Bridge is located three miles west of Oneonta 1.5 miles off U.S. 231 near Rosa.
• King’s Bend Overlook Park, located between Cleveland and Blountsville on U.S. 231, has undergone renovations and upgrades over the past few months. Formerly known as King’s Bend or the 231 Scenic Bridge, a grand opening for King’s Bend Overlook Park is scheduled for April, weather permitting.
The overlook has a “grand staircase,” native plants, and signage with historical information. River access for kayaks and canoes is available. Handicap access and a walking bridge with park benches are available to view the river, watch kayak races, or enjoy the scenery. The public park is open from daylight to dark.
Let’s go to the park
• Sporting a play area with four new swing bays, a new metal jungle gym, and rubber mat, the Locust Fork Park is handicap accessible and open from daylight to dark. The park offers a half-mile walking track, four small pavilions that are first come, first serve, and a large pavilion that can be rented for $25 per day. Contact Locust Fork Town Hall at 681-4581 for more information.
• Blountsville Municipal Park offers not only a fenced-in playground area, two small pavilions with six tables, a large pavilion with eight tables and two grills, and a half-mile walking track, it also offers (for a nominal fee) entrance into Blountsville Municipal Pool that will have a free day and grand opening on May 25. All pavilions are free; however, the large pavilion needs to be reserved in advance by calling 429-2406.
• Cleveland Town Park is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, offers a playground, quarter-mile walking track, and open-air pavilions, as well as small and large screened-in pavilions that can be rented for private events. The large screened-in pavilion can be rented all day for $50, while the small screened-in pavilion can be rented from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. for $35. Call 274-9640 for more information.
• While the Town of Hayden does not have an official city park, visitors can enjoy the playground adjacent to the community center. There are pavilions with BBQ grills that can be reserved for $25 for two hours and $10 for each additional hour. Walkers can enjoy the 1/12th-mile walking track next to town hall; others can relax at the gazebo there. Reservations for pavilions can be made by calling town hall at 543-6881.
• Offering a playground, picnic tables, a walking track, and three pavilions, Oneonta’s Woodland Park is open from sunrise to sunset. The pavilions at the colorful and picturesque park are available for no charge, but must be reserved by contacting Oneonta City Hall at 274-2150.
• Warrior offers a playground in conjunction with the ball fields. The play area is open all day and in the evening while balls games are being played. Contact the Warrior Mayor’s Office at 647-0520 for more information.
• Palisades Park offers several exciting activities in addition to the playground area. Rock climbing, rapelling, hiking trails, and scaling the fire tower are all activities available for those wanting adventure. The park also has spaces for picnics, and pavilions and buildings for rent. Rental information can be obtained by calling 274-0047.
Other fun escapes
• Blountsville Historical Park makes a wonderful place to “step back in time.” The park, which is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., features furnished log cabins, a blacksmith shop, a chapel, and a post office from days gone by. You can also play horseshoes or visit the gift shop. Restrooms are available. Located two miles north of Blountsville, there is no admission charge. The picnic area provides a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a meal outdoors. They also offer a pavilion that can accommodate up to 100 people and welcome events such as parties, weddings, and reunions. The cost is $100 per event. For more information, phone 429-2468 or 363-1248.
• From relaxing to an adventure, Rickwood Caverns in Warrior also has much to offer. Guided cave tours, gem mining, camping, hiking, a playground, pavilions, a fitness loop, and pool are just a few of the opportunities visitors can experience. Entrance to the park is $3 per person. The camping spaces with water, electricity, and a dumping facility are accessible for $33.90 per night. The pool will open May 25 with an all day pass for $5. The small pavilion rents for $85 while the large pavilion rents for $110 per day. For more information, call 647-9692.
• Golfers can enjoy being on the green at Heritage and Limestone Springs golf courses. Both offer golfing for a nominal charge, a pro shop, and a grill for those hungry appetites.
Heritage has a new owner who is excited about making it a fun place to relax. The grill will soon be open for business. From 5 p.m. to closing, owner Jimmy Hanvey plans on adding steak to the menu. Hoping to introduce people to the game, Hanvey anticipates having an artificial putting green to enjoy while waiting or to just hang out with friends. Heritage will continue to offer the ballroom for various functions, including weddings. These events will be catered out. Future plans include building a driving range and possibly lodging. The golf course is open from 7:30 a.m. until dark.
Limestone Springs Golf Club continues to offer an exciting layout that is carved out of the surrounding mountains and features an array of natural hazards that are beautiful to look at, yet provide a place for punishing errant shots. Tee times begin at 8 a.m. and golf course remains open until 6 p.m. The golf club also offers a pro shop, food, and beverages at the facility.
• While the county has many natural habitats for swimming, Mardis Mills, near the town of Blountsville, is a popular spot to enjoy not only a refreshing swim, but also the majestic waterfall. Its beauty is captivating to those who venture to this beautiful and peaceful spot.
• And last, but certainly not least, The Friends of the Locust Fork River (FLFR) invite everyone to come out and enjoy the river. There is a multitude of things to do while enjoying river life. With the abundance of rainfall, the Locust Fork River is full of energy and provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy whitewater races, monthly river cleanups, canoeing and kayaking, hiking to Cornelius Falls, Kids’ Day on the River, wildflowers, fishing, or swimming. It also provides the perfect opportunity to capture stunning pictures that can be entered in FLFR’s 2019 Art and Photo contest.
The next big event, whitewater racing, will be held Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Boaters in canoes and kayaks will race the clock as they negotiate a .25-mile course of slalom gates. For more information about the FLFR and events, go to FLFR.org.