Date of Travel: February 10-12, 2017
Total Cost Per Night: $38
Address: 200 Terrace Dr, Pelham, AL 35124
Site: A30 (Full Hookup)
Weather in the Southeast can be a bit interesting and unpredictable, especially this winter where we’ve been setting record highs and lows. With this in mind, Leslie signed up for the Mercedes Half Marathon in the middle of February and we planned on camping at nearby Oak Mountain State Park in Birmingham, AL. After my experience at this race a decade ago running in 26 degree weather, I was a little hesitant to commit to camping. Well, I’m glad we decided to risk it because we had a great weekend and got to experience an amazing state park.
Located about 20 miles south of Birmingham sits the main entrance to Oak Mountain State Park. Getting off the interstate, the entrance is about 2 miles off of the highway down some narrow back roads. There are two gates to this park. The eastern gate is closer to the campground and might be more convenient if you’re coming from Atlanta, but the gate closes in the evening and doesn’t open again until around 7am while the main gate is open 24 hours. Once you enter the park, it’s another 5 miles to the campground. It’s a very pretty drive, but just keep in mind that you need to add about 10-15 minutes extra when thinking about getting anywhere.
While I loved this state park, which I’ll get to later, the campground was underwhelming in my opinion. The fact that it has full hook-ups helps skew my impression just a little bit since it’s so cheap, but I really didn’t like this campground. It seemed run down, tired, and some areas felt almost like a mobile home park.
The campground is comprised of 2 loops, Loop A and Loop B. They feel very different and I would strongly recommend Loop A. Loop B has a few wooded sites around the perimeter but the majority of the sites are out in the open in a central area. While we were there, some really run-down campers were occupying this area. It just made the loop feel dirty and like a mobile home park. Loop A on the other hand is almost all wooded and has a much nicer feel to it. While there weren’t many sites that got me excited, it wasn’t bad and there are a few fantastic sites interspersed throughout this loop.
There are 2 types of sites, rustic tent sites that are hike-to (10 feet to 100 feet off of the road) and full hookup RV sites. They are co-mingled and not separate. If you’re a tent camper, you might not like the lack of dedicated space for your desired solitude. The tent sites are attractive and spacious with nice pads. One note, none of the sites that I saw have lantern poles.
You can’t reserve a specific site to my knowledge at this campground. When you make your reservation they will assign you a site based on availability and size restrictions. We lucked out and got one of the best sites in the campground. We were in site A30 which angled back to the woods that offered my kids acres and acres to play in and a mini-mountain to summit a few times. We were in a little cul-de-sac that offered a nice quiet area for the kids to ride their bikes and throw the frisbee.
The bathrooms here were pretty rough. They do have free showers and they are heated/cooled, but that’s about where the nice part ends. They looked 30 years old and like they had never been updated. The toilet was extremely high…I’m 6’2″ and my toes barely touched the ground! I don’t know if the rest were this way, but it was unusual.
The campground had a (really little) store where you check in. When I say little, there were a couple of cold drinks and maps and t-shirts hanging on the wall, some wood bundles and a place to change out your propane. That was it. There really wasn’t anything there that was helpful in the least. The ranger who checked us in was very distracted and not overly friendly.
Ok, so I wasn’t too impressed with the campground in case you hadn’t gathered that. But the amenities here are worth the sub-par camping facilities. There are SO many things to do here that you would be hard-pressed to get it all done in 4-5 days. Here’s a list of some of the things to do:
- 50 miles of mixed use trails for hiking and Mtn. Biking
- Equestrian facilities and trails
- Boat rentals
- Cable skiing
- 18 hole golf course
- Driving Range
- Demonstration farm
- Interpretive center
- BMX and smaller pump-n-run course
- Wildlife Center with bird rehabilitation services
- Tree Top Nature Trail
- Peavine Falls
While we didn’t get to squeeze much into our 2 nights in the campground, we did get to experience a little bit of what this park has to offer. There are trails everywhere. If you are into mountain biking, this is the place for you. There are all levels of trails that would be suitable for the kids or the serious biker. Road biking is also very popular here. The BMX track was a lot of fun for the kiddos as well as the smaller pump-n-run course.
Along the same vein, hiking is prevalent here as well. From small loops to quiet walks by the lake to scrambling around Peavine Falls, there’s something for everyone. If you’re anywhere close to Birmingham and are needing some solitude or outdoor activities, check out this park. Hopefully you’ll luck out with one of the nicer sites and can enjoy a beautiful park.