As members of the Rotary Club of Birmingham began to anticipate the club’s 100th anniversary in 2013, discussions of a Centennial project were initiated. The project would be a legacy gift to the City of Birmingham and the larger community. The Rotary Trail was the result of the club’s planning effort.
This multi-million dollar gift to Birmingham and its citizens on behalf of Rotary transformed a vacant railroad right-of-way, or “cut,” into a pleasantly-landscaped, four-block walking/running/biking pathway. In 2015, the Rotary Trail was awarded a Governor’s Award for Water Conservationist of the Year – in other words, the best water conservation effort in Alabama. Prior to the development of the trail, the storm water run-off in the abandoned railroad cut flowed directly into Village Creek, carrying debris and other pollutants into the city’s water system. With the development of the trail, a new filtration system was put in place to improve the quality of the run-off in the right-of-way. For this effort, the Rotary Trail was honored with the award at the 2015 annual meeting of the Alabama Wildlife Federation.
Of perhaps even more significance is the economic opportunity the trail presents in the future. Initially, the trail is intended to connect two of Birmingham’s superior amenities – Railroad Park and the Sloss Furnaces Historic landmark. Ultimately, the trail has been designed as a link within a larger trail system – the Red Rock Ridge and Valley trail system – that will connect the 9,000-acre Red Mountain Park in the Oxmoor Valley to Railroad Park, and via the Rotary Trail, to Sloss Furnaces. Long-range plans see the trail system connecting Sloss Furnaces to the Ruffner Mountain preserve in Eastern Birmingham.