OFELIA - If you've been looking for a quaint place to hike and enjoy a different aspect of the outdoors on Lake Wedowee, then The Preserves is where you need to visit.
The Preserves is a trail that has been established by Alabama Power and is part of their project to invest in the outdoors on lakes in Alabama. This is part of the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail that many may be familiar with. It is located in Fox Creek Subdivision. Alabama Power used power line easements and old roadbeds as the trail. From Wedowee, take Highway 48 approximately 7 miles to County Road 863 on the left. Proceed 200 yards to the dead end and you have arrived. "The trail was already here, but we want to promote to people to get out on the trail and to make the trail what it needs to be," said Alabama Power representative Sheila Smith.
In early 2018, Alabama Power started looking at utilizing land around all lakes in Alabama for hiking, bird watching, primitive camping and nature- and trail-oriented activities. The Preserves logo will be on all recreation sites statewide. "We did what we could do to enhance those lands in the way they're supposed to be used. We want to get the word out there that they can be used," Smith said.
This trail will be preserved and protected by Alabama Power, and totals 5 miles if you hike all trails. However, you can also take shorter trails if you wish. There are color-coded trail markers on every trail, and some even go right by Lake Wedowee. Parts are even board walked, so someone with physical challenges can get into the woods and enjoy the great outdoors. You will also find a map at the trailheads, so you are aware of where you'll be at all time.
In addition to all of this, there's interpretive signage with interesting information about the area. This signage informs people about common fish, trees, birds and aquatic plants along the trail. This trail also contains a wetland area with information available about it. Benches are available along the way as well that are built out of cedar that was harvested here on the property. Two gazebos are on sight made of Osage orange that is native to Alabama, and the gazebos have interpretive signage telling about the wood used as well.
Alabama Power has also planted pollinator plots on site that help maintain the lives of butterflies, bees, birds and all other animals that are noted to be of a shortage in our area. As the seasons continue, the pollinator plots will blossom and become appealing and beautiful; creating photo sites and gorgeous views. These plots have two plants flowering every season, so something will be visible year-round, and the trails go right through the middle of the plots. Don't be frightened if you see a camera that seems to be watching you. These are just trail cams, but they aren't recording. These cameras have a beam that counts how many people are walking on the trail. Alabama Power wants to keep up with how often the trails are used in order to make improvements and see how much of the trail is utilized.
Alabama Power's goal is, "To create a unified platform for Alabama Power Company to organize and better communicate our recreational properties around the lakes." Alabama Power adds, "The Preserves are core to the Alabama Power ideal of merging nature with crafting special places. The lands allow people to enjoy, learn and grow a deeper appreciation for our state's ecology and natural landscape. They allow our citizens to access and enjoy our lakes."
Even in the cold, summer, rain or snow, these trails are open to anyone who wants to enjoy them. Alabama Power has been working on this trail since February, and company representatives are excited to introduce this to Randolph County. There is no lighting on this trail, so it will be open dusk until dawn for safety purposes. Get out there when you can and enjoy this wonderful treat on Lake Wedowee.