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About Ruffner Mountain

Ruffner Mountain is a 1,038-acre urban nature preserve located in Birmingham, Alabama. We are one of the largest privately held 501 (c)(3) urban nature preserves in the United States. To learn more about membership and conservation at Ruffner Mountain please visit our Membership page.

Hours: Nature Center closed on Mondays. Trails are free and open to the public everyday from dawn to dusk. 


Our Mission

To advance the understanding of ecology in a rapidly changing world. 

Our History

Our story begins in 1977, when an intrepid grassroots community movement banded together to form the Ruffner Mountain Coalition in order to protect the mountain from a land developer planning to build an apartment complex on the site. Kathy Freeland, then president of the Ruffner Mountain Coalition, along with residents from south East Lake, members of the Birmingham Humane Society, and the Vulcan Trail Association, founded the Coalition not only in reaction to the possible land development, but also to preserve the mountain itself and the myriad native species of flora and fauna that live there, to provide educational programs for kids and adults, and to create a wildlife rehabilitation center. The first Ruffner wildlife rehabilitation "center", was actually the home of Ann Miller, a Birmingham Zoo employee. Other members of that first Coalition were Andy Smith (then president of the south East Lake neighborhood group), Gary Collier, Tom Lamb Jr., Frank Dawson, Rodney Hale, Jimmie White, Joan Dawson, and Emily Hobbs, among others. Through the eighties, nineties, and into the 21st century, Ruffner has continued to grow and expand to its current size of over a thousand acres. We owe the pioneers of the original Ruffner Mountain Coalition a debt of gratitude and thank them for preserving the beautiful, enriching, and vital world that is Ruffner Mountain for this generation and all to come.  

Our Mines

The mountain was mined for iron from the late 19th century through the 1950’s. In 1896 a local newspaper reported that our mines produced over 200 tons of raw ore per day for processing at the nearby Sloss furnaces. You may see many ghosts of Birmingham’s industrial past while out on our trails. Please help us preserve this history by leaving these relics just as you find them.


We maintain 14 miles of trails, branching throughout the mountain, open to the public for running, hiking, and general enjoyment of nature. Our trails are also used for education purposes by student groups ranging from 1st grade through college. We encourage you to stay on the trails as there is unusual terrain and inherent danger at old mining sites. Please respect others on the trails and do not bring any sort of wheeled vehicle onto the mountain. We also ask that you respect our limited staff resources and leave our trails as clean as you found them, if not cleaner. Please respect and be kind to Ruffner’s wildlife and it will return the favor. Leave flowers for others to enjoy, and for your next visit!