Driving into the preserve I was greeted by the above sign. Hey. This says it all to me. I'm a rabid fan of dead snags and trees so this philosophy gels with my own. I'm at home here already.
Hays Nature Preserve, formally called J.D. and Annie S. Hays Nature Preserve is actually a city park. The link will take you to the City of Huntsville's website about this preserve and the city's future plans for it and their Goldsmith-Shiffman Wildlife Sanctuary. At this site you can download trail maps and get directions to the park. As well, you can read the city's philosophy and plans for these two parks. Although this is a city park, one can join the Preserve. Preserves need all the help they can get so I aim to pitch in and do my part. Oh, while Googling to find out more about Hays Preserve I found another Alabama blogger who had written a nice piece about it within an Alabama blog called Flashpoint. Authored by "Reactionary," also known as Jay Hightower, his post introduced the human element to Hays Preserve, highlighting the work that's been done and that needs to continue. Check it out if you're interested.
After parking in a nicely accommodating parking lot, I ambled over a lovely footbridge that spanned the Flint River tributary above Cherokee Landing. It was here I lingered and shot photo after photo of the spectacular water beneath me. The current was swift, but what grabbed me straight away was the color of the water. By the time I arrived the sun was high in the sky, the light was flat and bright. By the time I left in mid-afternoon the water was even more beautiful, as you'll see in future posts.
I headed for Flint Trail. This paved pathway is marked for foot traffic and bikes and is a gentle introduction to Hays Preserve. The path is flat and of a reasonable length which makes it perfect for a zen-like stroll, a little biking with the family or for a nice power walk in the sunshine. It rambles alongside the stream bed, and offers a few cleared areas from which one can view the waters that gently go by.
Dancing sycamore branches.
Finally I left the bridge. The water is mesmerizing but there's so much to explore. Leaving the footbridge I follow the path which opens to sunlight and fields, clearly where crops feed birds and wildlife. I could see small birds foraging in the scrubby leftovers far away nestled in a sea of green. The sun is bright and warm, which feels so nice after our wet, cold and wild winter season. I turn east and saunter down the pathway.