Cullman’s Secret Wilderness


Hiking at Hurricane Creek Park


VINEMONT – From stress relief and exercise to beauty, hiking offers a world of benefits. Cullman’s own Hurricane Creek Park offers a natural way to stay in shape and soak in the beauty. As nature’s workout, hiking is the best way to relieve stress, stay in shape and enjoy the great outdoors.


Located in Vinemont, Hurricane Creek Park is a 67+ acre forest, nestled in a 500-foot deep canyon. It was founded in 1961 and has aged with beauty since. Now, it has something to offer everyone, but the hiking trails steal the show. HCP has miles and miles of beautiful hiking trails that will whisk you away to a natural fairytale world.


Upon entering the park, you will immediately cross a bridge over a rain fed waterfall, which runs seasonally before coming to the Hi-trail/Low-trail intersection. The Low-trail features a steep descent and winding stairs which lead to the picnic area. The longer Hi-trail will bring you to the natural bridge, waterfalls, a more secluded picnic area, as well as the main picnic area.


Wife and assistant to manager of HCP, Denise Thomas-McCray describes the layout of this beautiful park.


“The HCP hiking trail consists of one 3-mile figure eight loop that switchbacks down the northern ridge, across the footbridge at the Kissing Rock, up to the famously fun Twilight Tunnel, then the trail continues up the southern ridge, and back down to the same footbridge, and up the steep Grandpa Trail to the park office,” she says.


Mr. William “Buddy” Rodgers curated and loved HCP and later donated it to the state of Alabama.


“He had a good sense of humor in addition to being an architect, an engineer and a tireless laborer,” adds McCray. “Some of his original signs remain, like the Grandpa Trail, which is a very steep, but shorter way out. Other signs are missing and have a way of disappearing like Kissing Rock and Hi-Dive, which is a small overlook on the Lo-Trail.”


The trails are steep and edgy with lots of twists and turns. It is physically challenging, but its beauty makes it worth the hike.


“HCP is Mother Nature’s version of an adventure race,” says McCray. “It is easy for some and more taxing for others, but beautiful for all. HCP is more enchanting and is harder than you might think. HCP is a challenge… all you have to do is say ‘challenge accepted’.”


This awesome bit of nature is also one of the official stops on the North Alabama Birding Trail, so you’re likely to hear the calls of several song birds.


“If I’m quiet, I can hear a myriad of songbirds,” McCray says, “the most distinctive being the call of the Pileated Woodpecker.”


Your experience at Hurricane Creek Park will greatly depend on the season and its accompanying weather. Since it’s summer, HCP is rather dry right now and the waterfalls are not flowing. This is typical during the hot season.


“The rain runs off quickly into the Hurricane Creek at the bottom of the canyon, then into the Flint and ultimately into the Tennessee River,” says McCray. “Autumn is glorious and the winter is vastly underrated and very beautiful. HCP has a very pristine feel in the cold weather. Oh boy, when it snows!”


Though the park is beautiful and McCray encourages those who are able to come enjoy the nature, she does give a word of warning.


“We see all ages at HCP, but physical condition and determination are key factors in hiking the trails,” she says. “It is not possible to navigate the rocky terrain with a stroller, but we do see parents who take babies in backpack style carriers. Also, the trails, by their very nature, are not appropriate for people who require aids such as walkers or wheelchairs. A walking or hiking stick is recommended for all.”


Simply, these trails are hard to hike. If you’re not in good shape but still want to enjoy the beauty of this patch of wilderness, McCray offers a solution:


“Do what I do,” she says. “Stop often to rest.”


But hiking is demanding, even for those in tip top shape. So, if you exercise often, consider going to Hurricane to get some exercise in nature.


“HCP is like a stair stepper in a sauna in warm weather and like an elliptical in a refrigerator in winter,” says McCray. “It is a fantastic place to trail run, practice Tai Chi or yoga. Rock climbing is also a fun group activity that really tests stamina and flexibility. We see a lot of people who are crossing over from martial arts and yoga into climbing and bouldering. They are like cousins in form and technique.”


Hurricane Creek Park is a secret treasure; a scenic and enchanting place to visit. McCray recommends that visitors come experience HCP at least four times a year to experience each distinct season we have here in the Southeast.


“HCP is, after all, in the ‘Toehills’ of the ‘Foothills of the Appalachian Mountains’,” she says. “Everyone needs to get back to nature, whether it is at HCP or in their own backyard. Just get out!”


Go visit Hurricane Creek Park, and experience nature’s beauty in Cullman’s secret wilderness.