Oak Mountain State Park expanding

Oak Mountain State Park expanding

View of Oak Mountain Lake. Photo by Tyler Lahti.

PELHAM, Ala. (AP) — New public access areas will be available later this year at Alabama’s largest state park, which is growing with the purchase of more than 1,600 acres (647 hectares) of land in metro Birmingham.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources plans to expand biking, hiking and horse-riding trails at Oak Mountain State Park with the addition of acreage acquired through the Forever Wild Land Trust, the agency said in a statement.

The park, located in heavily populated Shelby County, will encompass more than 11,000 acres with the additional land, most of which is forested.

“We’re still doing the environmental and biological assessments to identify those areas where we want to keep the public from disturbing threatened and endangered species,” said Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “So we’ll be looking to open up more public access later in 2022.”

The land being added to the park was one of the largest undeveloped tracts near Birmingham along U.S. 280. It was owned by EBSCO Industries.

Forever Wild has acquired 285,000 acres of land around the state, and nearly all of it allows public access for outdoor activities.