Most Alabamians don’t realize that as they’re driving to the Gulf, they’re bypassing one of the most ecologically and historically diverse parts of Alabama—Historic Blakeley State Park in Spanish Fort.
I recently got the opportunity to hike and bike ride while fitting in a good dose of Alabama history lessons at this state park. The town of Blakeley was chartered in 1814 and quickly grew to be one of the largest towns in Alabama, rivaling Mobile. While the town eventually met its demise because of the economy and yellow fever, you can still explore its ruins and wander around the town square.
On the opposite end of the park sits the site of the Battle of Fort Blakeley. You can walk through the spot of the largest Civil War battle of Alabama, which is full of historical signage and replicas of the battlefield.
With over 20 miles of trails to explore, it’s easy to log some 100 Alabama miles! The trails are all well-marked with distance and difficulty, and the Park Trails Information Sheet even gives an explanation on how each trail got its name.
Two of the most unique trails in the park are the Hiding Tree Boardwalk and the E.O. Wilson Boardwalk. The Hiding Tree is a live oak with a hole at its base where soldiers hid, giving it its name. The trail is short, shaded, and makes for fun photo opportunities for kids and adults alike.
The E.O. Wilson Boardwalk runs along the Tensaw River, offering five-star views of the Delta before ducking into the forest and back to the parking lot. There are benches along the route as well as a few good fishing spots!
When you’re ready to give your feet a break, you can explore the Tensaw River with a ride on the Delta Explorer! There are many cruises you can choose, from a relaxing lunch cruise to a Delta Adventure Cruise where you scan the water and skies for alligators and bald eagles.
After you’re done with all your exploration and are ready to rest, Historic Blakeley State Park has plenty of camping options.
If you’re not looking to rough it, there are two fully-furnished cabins available for rent. If you want to semi-rough it,there are two “Squirrel’s Nest” camping shelters available for rent for up to six people, complete with their own fire rings and restrooms.
There is a regular tent campground, as well as an improved tent campground, which offers power outlets and running water for those wanting a more convenient camping experience.
Plus there is a RV campground with full hookups in a separate part of the park, offering privacy from other campers and park visitors.
When you’ve headed out in the direction of the gulf coast beaches, make sure to stop in downtown Fairhope for some food and drinks. I recommend the BBQ at TexarBama in the heart of downtown. If you’re feeling really hungry, get The Gutbuster. The name says it all! To wrap up the trip, it’s just a short walk down to the Fairhope Municipal Pier for some people watching and great views of Mobile Bay.