Hurricane Creek Park
Located at the northern base of the McKinley Mountain Range, in Cullman County on Highway 31 between Vinemont and Interstate 65, Hurricane Creek Park is nestled in the 300 feet deep canyon that is home to Hurricane Creek (one of the head waters of Flint Creek). The Park is open from 10:30am until sunset everyday and offers the day hiker four miles of trails in two separate routes. The long route is 2.5 miles, while the short route is 1.5 miles. All trails are clearly marked and in some places there are guide rails for added certainty. But don't let the ease of the trail trick you into thinking the hike will be yawner. Even the avid offtrail adventurer will appreciate the sparkling show as the creek meanders its way through the canyon.
The proprietor, Mr. William E. Rogers, a veteran Army pilot of World War 2 and the Korean War, first saw the canyon in 1958 when he flew over while mapping the area for the government. Three years later, in 1961, Mr. Rogers purchased the 138 acres in three different tracts from three different farmers. It wasn't until 1963 that he finally found a pre-1864 map that labeled the area "Hurricane Creek".
Mr. Rogers spent the next several years exploring and trailblazing in the canyon. The result is a charming, peaceful nature park with easy trails, a picnic area, a swinging bridge, and enough natural attractions to fill an entire day with enchanted explorations. There are tree identification signs throughout the park. There are several small rock shelters and at least one shelter big enough that it is easy to imagine the ancient families that might have slept there.
Mr. Rogers has given several of the natural attractions fun and imaginative names. There is Satan's Staricase, Kissing Rock, Hidden Valley, and Twilite Tunnel. The Twilite Tunnel is an opening approximately 3 feet wide that travels 600 feet through a huge rock formation. When the traveler is halfway through this tunnel, he is engulfed in complete darkness for a some what cavelike experience. This unique tunnel was probably formed in 1811 or 1812 during a series of powerful earthquakes that centered near New Madrid, Missouri. This is the same series of earthquakes that caused many of the geological features of the Sipsey Wilderness such as needle eye, ship rock, and fortress rock. Mr. Rogers spent an entire winter cleaning out the leaf and brush debris that had been accumulating in the tunnel for more than one hundred-twenty years. This was no small task considering that his only tools were a shovel and a five gallon bucket.
Another interesting feature is found at the trails' end. Mr. Rogers has installed a track with a mine car. Nearby there is a dinner bell for the hiker to ring, signaling the park attendant to start the mine car moving up the 187 feet back to the park's entrance. This ride is a special treat! However, there are steps available for those who prefer to walk back up to the top.
There is a small admission fee charged for entry into the park. Currently admission is $2.00 for children 3-18, and $2.50 for adults over 18. These rates are subject to change, but take note that there have been only two increases in the past thirty years!