Date: Saturday, June 15, 2013
Location: Rickwood Caverns State Park, Alabama
Trails: Fossil Mountain Trail
Members: Gary, Larry, Mimi, (Roger)
In spite of a massive traffic jam on I-65 south of Cullman, Gary, Mimi and I arrived at the park just barely in time for the 10:15 cave tour. According to his email, Roger and friends arrived about 10:30 and took the 10:45 tour. So we all just missed each other in some combination of above and below ground.
Rickwood Caverns is a quite remarkable limestone cave with a well-engineered and well-lit walkway, allowing one to appreciate all its wonders. This area used to be private land and was in the process of being developed as a tourist attraction when the issue of back taxes owed led to the state acquiring the property at some point.
You can only visit the cave with a guide. Group tours run every half hour and cost $15 per adult, less for younger children. Our guide, Bradley, had the right mix of humor plus seriousness necessary to lead about twenty people of all sorts on such an endeavor.
The walk is called the "Miracle Mile" which is pretty much its length. There are 300+ steps to negotiate, with over 100 to climb out at the end. While the scenery is excellent with some just fabulous draperies and columns, I must say that frequently these steps and passages require paying serious attention to where your feet and, especially, your head are. The handrails were welcome, particularly in the wetter spots. Nevertheless, we all made it through with the most serious problem being young children needing a not available "potty".
After the tour, Mimi and I hiked the 1.2 mile Fossil Mountain Trail which is an easy loop walk in the woods along a rocky path, not strenuous at all and quite enjoyable.
Although we did not take advantage of it, the park also features an Olympic-size swimming pool plus smaller kiddy pool whose water is supplied from an underground spring in the cave. The park's camping facilities looked pretty good with a mix of tent camping and RV spaces.
In conclusion, we liked the place. Lots of kids but hey this is a Saturday in June. The only negative thing I might throw out is that they do charge $1 per person to just enter the park and that $15 per person for a 45-60 minute cave tour is at the high end of these kind of things.
For these and other photos, please see our Picasa Web Album Rickwood Caverns.
Submitted 18 June 2013
Photos: Mimi (or her camera at least)