Turkey Creek Nature Preserve

One of the best things about cycling is the people you meet and the places you see. You never know what is going to happen.

Sometimes that can be bad. I was exploring a new route once when the road turned to dirt. My choices were equally unpleasant: Ride through the mud on tires that are designed to have as little contact with the road as possible, or else backtrack about ten miles. I picked the former, and it was not fun. Road bikes do not work well on muddy, rocky roads.

But other times the surprises are pure pleasure. Like the first time I crested Coosa Mountain heading south on Al 25. Just as the road makes a hairpin curve and heads down the mountain, there is a small gravel road shooting off to the west. I turned on it and was rewarded with a beautiful view of the land below. Or on a ride in Arkansas, I was on US 67 headed north when I saw a rider ahead of me. Naturally, I sped up so as to catch him. He was on a recumbant, and on his way from Seatle to Miami.

So it was today. I decided to do some exploring, riding from my house through Woodlawn and Eastlake into Tarrant and from there northeast towards Pinson and then back. I’ve ridden the part to Tarrant many times, but after that it was all new. I’d never ridden, nor driven, nor seen those roads.

After riding on the very pleasant Newcastle Road for five miles or so, I turned on Jackson (?) road, headed towards 79. I was going up a small hill when I saw a sign for something called the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.

“Huh,” I thought, “What’s that?” I turned into it at the entrance. There wasn’t much of anything there, just a one lane road headed in a more or less northerly direction. That was the opposite direction from what I wanted, so I almost went back to the main road and continued my trip. But having no plans for the day, and thus being in no hurry to get home, I decided to follow the road.

It dropped down the side of a hill and then curved to the east along a creek. “That must be Turkey Creek” I thought. It was beautiful. Quiet. Cool. The sun streaking through the trees. Then as I rounded a corner, I saw some falls. I stopped and pulled off the road to admire them and saw a guy down by the water.

I walked down to him, and asked about the Preserve, telling him that until now I had no idea it was here. He told me how it came to be, and explained the historical significance of the area. He said Davey Crocket had come through here once, and that this was probably the home of JeffCo’s first iron works. He said it was also home to some fish – the Vermillion Darter – that lives no-where else in the world. We talked for a half hour or so before I got back on my bike.

From there it was another twenty five miles or so back to the house. Most of it turned out to be great riding: low traffic, nice scenery, and very smooth roads. Combined with the perfect weather, it made for a fantastic ride.

Not every ride is so wonderful. Sometimes jerks in their cars try to run you over, or maybe you get caught by a rain storm, or occasionaly your legs just won’t cooperate. But all in all, cycling is one of life’s great pleasures. Never mind the health benefits, it is just the best way to get to know your town and state. Even when you don’t meet anyone new, or see grand sights like I did today, you still experience the hills and mountains, feel the cool air around the creeks, smell the flowers and plants, hear the birds, and become a part of the neighborhoods and towns you ride through.

Cars make you a spectator, a bike makes you a participant. After your bike takes you somewhere, you’ll always look at that place a little differently than you did before the ride.

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9 Comments on “Turkey Creek Nature Preserve”

  1. Willie Says:

    Nice description. Keep it up, it will make your life much calmer. I live in a village on a small island and this my way of doing my daily errands and chores. You see so much that you cannot in a car, plus meet people that make your life full.

  2. Southtrek Says:


    My rides generally take me south of town but the roads like those describe. I just wish those four wheel drivers could respect those of us who aren’t the same hurry they are give a bit of the road.

  3. wheeler Says:

    most of my normal loops also go south. i have a few that go northwest, towards brookside and graysville, but this was my first northeast trip. it was really great, i imagine it’s what shelby county was like twenty years ago.

  4. curtis Says:

    NICE write-up… makes me want to jump on my bike this weekend.

    I just drove your road at lunch today and will be making a blog entry tonight (time allowing) about the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, complete with an easier (albeit not bike friendly) route to get to the falls themselves.

  5. wheeler Says:

    i’m guessing you mean al 79. definitely NOT bike friendly. though my route home from the preserve features a quarter mile stretch of it.

  6. […] Me? I ran ten miles this morning – including two monster hills (Arlington Ave. and 52d St. South, the one by Baptist Montclair) – and felt great doing it. I’m giving 2-1 odds that I’ll be a parent within the next two weeks. All my favorite t.v. shows are back in swing: The Simpsons, The Office and My Name is Earl. We’re going out for Mexican tonight. Tomorrow morning I’m going to ride up to Turkey Creek again. […]

  7. […] will I be doing with my day off? First, I’m going to do the Turkey Creek ride(pics here). Then I’ll come home, fix myself some brunch, eat, and go sit on my porch to read […]

  8. kuduman Says:

    The Turkey Creek Nature Preserve is an awesome place to spend the day; wether you are on a bike, in your hiking boots, with your family or with your son or daughter. The falls are a great place to get wet. The paved trail is great on a good day with a pretty sunset, although it is a steep upgrade on the opposite end from the parking lot. The Eagle Scout trail is all-natural and great if you have a pet on a leash. The Eagle Scout trail has many spots that are not accessible weather permitting. There are three Endangered Darter’s: Watercress, Vermillion, and Rush Darter.


  9. kuduman Says:

    The Turkey Creek Nature Preserve:

    3906 Turkey Creek Road
    Pinson, AL, 35126


    Mon – Sun:
    08:00 – 17:00

    Information on Turkey Creek Nature Preserve can also be found on Facebook.


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