Monday, November 30, 2020

Calhoun County Parks

Generally speaking, there are five physiographic regions in the state of Alabama: the Highland Rim, the Cumberland Plateau, Alabama Valley and Ridge, the Piedmont Upland, and the East Gulf Coastal Plain.  Calhoun County, Alabama falls firmly within the Valley and Ridge region and consequently is characterized by steep ridge systems with rolling valleys separating them.  The citizens of Calhoun County have taken advantage of this topography and have constructed parks where the populace can recreate in full view of the county’s natural wonders. Whether you are looking for sporting activities or just for a place to have a picnic with your family and friends, you can find what you are looking for in Calhoun County.  Against the back drop of the southern Appalachians, there is really no more beautiful place to be.

Choccolocco Park

Choccolocco  Park is a newly constructed sports and recreation complex located at 954 Leon Smith Parkway in Oxford, Alabama.  The facility offers a five field pod baseball complex with five 225’ fields that can be modified for a fee.  It features Tifway 419 Bermuda grass, dugouts, a press box, Musco Lighting, restrooms, a concession stand, and umpire locker rooms.  The fields were the site of the 2017 Dixie Youth Baseball World Series and the 2018 Dixie Youth Rookie State Baseball Tournament.  There is also a four field pod on the premises that feature two 300’ high school regulation baseball fields and two high school regulation 225’ softball fields.  There is a press box on these facilities and they are illuminated by Musco lighting.  Both softball fields can be utilized as youth baseball fields. The Signature Baseball Field at the facility is built to Major League standards.  This field has a seating capacity of approximately 1200 people and boasts two batting cages along with locker rooms for athletes and umpires.  There are restrooms and a concession stand and this field is as modern as the other facilities at the complex.  Choccolocco Park also contains The Signature Softball field.  This field can accommodate approximately 800 spectators and, like The Signature Baseball field, it features two batting cages, locker rooms for athletes and umpires, dugouts, press box, Musco lighting, restrooms, and a concession stand.  The Signature Softball Field hosted the 2016, 2017, and 2018 OVC Softball Championship.  The soccer facility at the park offers the same infrastructure as the other facilities and contains four AHSAA and NCAA regulated fields.  There is also a Track and Field facility at the complex that features an eight lane rubberized track built to NCAA standards. It contains locker rooms, grandstands, restrooms, a storage facility and sports medicine.  The facility can accommodate hammer throw, steeplechase, javelin, pole vault, long jump, triple long jump, high jump, discus throw, shot put, and more.  There is also an 18 hole disc golf course that spans the grounds of the facility.

But sports are not the only activity to which the complex caters.    Choccolocco Park offers two modern playgrounds available to the public, including a modern Boundless Playground.  Boundless Playgrounds are unique in their ability to accommodate able bodied and challenged individuals simultaneously.  There several hiking and biking trails encompass a 30 acre lake.  Combined, the trails are over 2.7 miles long and include an interpretive trail that recounts the history of the Muscogee Nation that once occupied the area.  Kayaking is encouraged on the lake.

Oxford Lake Park

Oxford Lake Park is located at 401 McCullars Lane in Oxford, AL.  The park has been the center of civic activity for residents for decades and features many amenities.  There is a paved and gravel track around the lake that is perfect for exercise and there are tennis courts, a swimming pool, adventure park playground, a baseball complex, indoor basketball courts, and the grounds also house a newly renovated and expanded civic center.  There are numerous pavilions on the grounds that offer picnic tables and shade from the summer heat.  The facility is also home to one of Alabama’s oldest remaining covered bridges, moved from Coldwater Creek to its new home in Oxford and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Whether you are looking for sporting activities or just for a place to have a picnic with your family and friends, you can find what you are looking for in Calhoun County.  Against the backdrop of the southern Appalachians, there is really no more beautiful place to be.

Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge

Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) once spread across about 90 million acres of land in the southeastern United States and covered approximately ⅔ of the land in the state of Alabama.  But intensive timber operations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries reduced the range of the valuable tree to a fraction of its historical territory.  It is estimated that only around 3 million acres of longleaf pine survive today, mostly in isolated, undeveloped pockets where fires regularly burn.  One such valuable pocket of the once vast forest occurs in Calhoun County on the grounds of the former Fort McClellan military base in North Anniston.  On May 31, 2003, 7,759 acres of this treasured forest was set aside by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and designated as the Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge.  On October 23, 2003 the Joint Powers Authority contributed an additional 1,257 acres of forest which brought the refuge up to its current size of 9,016 acres.