Hiking with Hailey: Historic Blakeley State Park
Whether you are a history nut or a nature enthusiast, Blakeley State Park offers something for everyone to enjoy.
SPANISH FORT, Ala. (WSFA) - We’ve talked all summer about the history that’s laced into Alabama’s parks and wildlife, and Blakeley is no exception; when you step foot in this state park, you’re transported back in time.
“Blakeley is an over 2000-acre park. We’re the site of Alabama’s largest Civil War battlefield,” said Blakeley Park Director Mike Bunn. “We’re located right here on the Tensaw River in the middle reaches of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, and we’ve got over 25 miles of hiking and biking trails. We’ve got RV camping, tent camping, cabins, and a regular series of educational events throughout the year. We also run our pontoon boat, the Delta Explorer throughout the Delta 12 months out of the year on a variety of cruises.”
Now I know that was a lot of information, but that’s what makes Blakeley so cool – there’s a little something for everyone. When you first enter the park, however, you’re greeted with its most diverse feature: Mother Nature.
From the river access to towering trees that haven been around for centuries, there’s plenty of plants and places to explore.
“With the natural history and the heritage we have here at the Delta, which is one of the richest ecosystems in all of North America - and being right in the middle of it - you get to observe this diversity of flora and fauna that we have in the park, and the diversity of environments even within the park itself,” said Bunn.
And it’s not just the natural environment that is diverse; the park is called Historic Blakeley State Park for a reason. As Bunn mentioned, it’s the site of the largest Civil War battlefield in Alabama, with many of the trails and trenches still maintained to this day.
“This was the last defense of the City of Mobile, so it’s a compelling point,” said Bunn. “It’s right in the middle of the park, and everywhere you go, you have to traverse the earthworks. What you see here is preserved and we do our best to make it accessible so that people can appreciate these remnants of that cataclysmic war. This is the Gulf Coast’s part of it, and I think it’s really a learning tool for people.”
Another great learning tool? Blakeley’s cell phone tour, which allows visitors to dial in to the park’s rich history, which includes remnants of the colonial town of Blakeley founded in the early 1800′s, as well as Native American heritage that dates back thousands of years.
“In every era in Alabama history we’ve got an interesting story to tell, and you can explore that throughout the park on your visit on a self-guided tour or on an audio tour or through some of the educational programs that we do,” said Bunn.
So the big takeaway here? Get out and explore Blakeley State Park by diving into the park’s past, or enjoying the scenic and diverse views of the present.
And - there’s always something new to look forward to in the future.
“Everywhere in Alabama is experiencing growth in various sizes and shapes, especially where we are on the gulf coast,” said Bunn. “What we have here at Blakeley is a unique slice of natural environment preserved in a state that you don’t get to see everywhere, and so when you enter into Blakeley, you’re entering this natural world that in some ways that in some ways has been altered all around our borders. So you get to feel that and experience that part of it and you get to understand the history of the region. It makes a unique combined attraction to experience the best of both of what I think Alabama has to offer is really special.”
The park is working to expand its hiking and biking trails, and hopes to wrap up some repairs at the Tensaw Riverfront that were caused by Hurricane Sally last fall.
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