As summer temperatures heat up, so do family travel plans! No place in Alabama offers more for families than the Muscle Shoals area, located in Colbert County. A sparkling river provides the northern border of Colbert County, offering a mutitude of opportunities for fishing or hiking along riverside trails and in parks. The Freedom Hills on the western side provide a scenic contrast to the rich farmland of the Tennessee Valley (which takes its name from the River). Hwy. 72 passes through the county (East to West), allowing travelers ample access to the three major cities: Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia and Sheffield.
Just across the river, the city of Florence is also part of the Muscle Shoals region. Together these quad-cities hold many attractions which may be enjoyed for little or no cost. Some are listed below:
Spring Park: Main Street, Tuscumbia, (256) 383-0783 . This historic park dates back to the early 1800’s. It features the worlds largest man-made natural stone waterfall, Coldwater Falls, and fountain that is dedicated to the memory of Princess Im-Mi-Ah-Key, wife of Chickasaw Indian Chief Tuscumbia (for whom the town is named). The fountain has 51 jets choreographed to lights and music. The center jet of the fountain shoots 150 into the air. The water show is each Friday, Saturday & Sunday night at dusk. Spring Park is also a great place for a picnic and to enjoy the playground. Families have traditionally brought children to feed the ducks and geese at Spring Park! The park offers a train ride, carousel, kiddie sized roller coaster and a splash pad. The cost to enjoy these amusements is minimal. Call (256) 383-1357 for more information.
Spring Park Light and Water Show: The fountain that is the focal point of the small lake at Tuscumbias Spring Park presents a spectacular display of 51 flumes of dancing water which jet 150 feet into the air. Set to the famous music of Muscle Shoals and the music of famous Alabamians, the water show provides an enjoyable overview of our states musical heritage. A medley of Patriotic songs is featured near some holidays, and Christmas music is presented in Dec. The fountain show is presented at dusk on weekend evenings (and at other times), March December.
Spring Park Market: Spring Park, Tuscumbia. Upscale farmers market runs for 16 weeks during June, July, August and September, (No Market during the week of the Helen Keller Festival). The Market is open on Thursday’s from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Live music is provided each week and a guest chef giving cooking demonstrations using the fresh produce and the specialty products available that day.
Coondog Graveyard: Directions: 7 miles West of Tuscumbia on US Highway 72, turn left on Alabama Hwy 247 and travel 12.8 miles, turn right (5 miles) and follow signs to attraction. Cherokee. 256-383-0783 or 800-344-0783 . A unique tribute to mans best friend, this park is located in the Freedom Hills of North Alabama. Over 185 coon dogs have been buried at the site. Visitors can enjoy reading the headstones, the flowing spring below the cemetery and perhaps the chatter of a squirrel or the song of a bird. No Admission Charged. Driving time from Tuscumbia is 30 min.
Historic LaGrange College Site Park and Pioneer Settlement: 7 miles east of Muscle Shoals, off Ala. 157, Leighton, 256-446-9324 . Listed on the Alabama Historical Register of Landmarks. Once the home of Indians and their legends, best known as the site of Alabamas first College, now a park dedicated to recreating life on LaGrange Mountain. Log buildings, including a barn, corn crib, home etc., are arranged to simulate a pioneer village. No Admission Charged. Tour time 30 minutes. Welcome Center open Sunday (only), 1pm-4pm
Riverfront Park: Alabama Ave. Sheffield. Riverfront Park, located along the south shore of the Tennessee River boasts boat launches, fishing piers, docking facilities, picnicking, gazebo and restrooms. Also home of the Boundless Playground, ramps replace steps, sand tables replace sand boxes, a game of tic-tac-toe can be played using Braille and rubber surfaces make wheelchair access easy. A truly accessible playground for all children.
Cane Creek Canyon: A 323-acre natural area, privately owned but open for the public to enjoy, Cane Creek Canyon offers canyons, waterfalls, rock shelters, and giant boulders. Visitors to this wildlife preserve may enjoy the beauty of nature by hiking, camping, picnicking. Self-guided tree identification lists are available. Thousands of native azaleas, mountain laurel, and other wildflowers may be viewed along the 10 miles of hiking trails. A four-wheel drive permits access for elderly or handicapped visitors. Owned by Dr. James and Fay Lacefield, 251 Loop Road, Tuscumbia. Drive out Frankfort Road for a little over 8 miles. Turn right on Loop Road, and go 1/10 of a mile. A gravel road extends straight ahead. Follow this road for ½ mile.
Natchez Trace: The Scenic Byway and All American Road consists of 441 miles operated by the National Park Service, stretching from Nashville, TN, to Natchez, MS. Enjoy the 33 miles of the Trace that pass through Alabama in Colbert and Lauderdale Counties. You might enjoy bicycling along the Trace or stopping to enjoy one of the nature areas, including Colbert Ferry Park and Rock Spring, where a short trail takes you to view a beaver trail and to witness the annual hummingbird migration in early fall/late summer.
Old Railroad Bridge: This bridge, which is today a pedestrian only bridge, is 1,580 feet long and 14 feet high and offers a spectacular view of the Tennessee River (Pickwick Lake). The stone piers date to 1832 when they supported a bridge that was burned during the Civil War. The bridge opened as a toll bridge in 1839. For many years it was the only means of crossing the Tennessee River. It later served automobiles on the lower level and streetcars on the upper level. Access at riverside end of Ashe Blvd., Sheffield.
TVA Trail: Miles of hiking and nature trails are included within the Tennessee Valley Authoritys Reservation, where one may enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents of nature. Wildflowers abound in the spring. Several locations offer lakeside overlooks. Access the trail from the end of Ashe Boulevard, Sheffield, and at other TVA Park locations.
Information provided for TravelingMamas.com by the Colbert County Tourism and Convention Bureau.