Check out the Trail Map and find your path

Check out the Trail Map and find your path

Learn more about our Nature Center and Animal Ambassadors

Learn more about our Nature Center and Animal Ambassadors

Delve into the deep history and geology of the mountain

Delve into the deep history and geology of the mountain

Find out about Ruffner Mountain’s unique biodiversity

Find out about Ruffner Mountain’s unique biodiversity


1214 81st Street South, Birmingham, AL 35206 205.833.8264

 
 
 

Trails

14 miles of trails, ranging in difficulty level from Easy to Difficult, branch and loop throughout the mountain. The trails are open to the public every day from dawn to dusk, but every hiker has an impact, however small, on the trail. That is why we encourage anyone who uses our trails to sign up for membership, or give $3 if you are not already a Ruffner member. Visit our Support page to learn more.

Student groups from pre-K to the undergraduate level regularly use the trails for science research projects to learn more about the natural world, and many organizations and local hiking groups enjoy our trails on a regular basis. Would your group like to visit Ruffner? If so, you may contact us at info@ruffnermountain.org, or call (205) 833-8264.

Please stay on the trail and keep clear of cliff edges. Some unusual terrain may be encountered on the mountain and old mining sites are inherently dangerous. Please respect others on the trail, and do not bring any sort of wheeled vehicle onto the mountain. Also, we 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 wildlife and it will return the favor. Leave flowers for others to enjoy, and for your next visit.

 

Mining History

Ruffner Mountain was mined for iron ore from the late 19th century through the 1950’s. In 1896, a local newspaper reported that its mines produced over 200 tons of raw ore per day for processing at nearby Sloss Furnaces. You may see many remnants of Birmingham’s industrial past while on the trail. Refer to the Preserve Map for the locations of historic Mining Sites. Please help us to preserve this history by leaving these relics just as you found them.

The exploration of all mines and caves on Ruffner Mountain is strictly prohibited. If you are leading a class, want to conduct research, or have a special interest in our caves and mines, special permission must be granted by our Conservation Director, Jamie Nobles. Jamie can be reached at jamie@ruffnermountain.org, or 205-833-8264.

 

Facility

Ruffner Mine #3 Bats 05012017

Nature Center Hours:

  • Tuesday - Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m

  • Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Winter Hours (December 1 - February 28):

  • Tuesday - Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

  • Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

If Ruffner Mountain is one vast, interconnected web, then the Nature Center is just that, its center. Within its walls you will find the Exhibit Hall, featuring a wide variety of native species, including: “Grady”, the gray rat snake (Pantherophis spiloides), Native freshwater fish, a speckled kingsnake (Lampropeltis nigra Stejneger), a timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), an Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina), a copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), a red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), a river cooter (Pseudemys concinna), a yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta), and two common musk turtles (Sternotherus oderatus).

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In addition to the Exhibit Hall, our Animal Care Department is located at the Nature Center. Here, we care for 25 to 30 animals at any given time. All of our animals are properly permitted, including Federal permits.

We care for each animal in our collection, and that means feeding nutritional and carefully formulated diets, including fresh fruit and vegetables for our herbivores and omnivores, maintaining clean habitats and environments, providing enrichment, training, and socializing, implementing innovative exhibit design, regular vet care, minor procedures such as beak trimming, nail trimming, and the administration of vet prescribed medications—all done in-house— and careful records that are kept every day about each animal in our care, including weight and behavior changes.

Ruffner is legally unable to accept any wildlife drop-offs. There are, however, two wildlife rehabilitation facilities in our area that do:

If you are unsure who to call or need some advice, feel free to give us a call at 205-833-8264.


RESERVE OUR SPACE

Our space is currently only available to one non-profit organization a month. If you would like more information, please email info@ruffnermountain.org .

Pavilion

The Pavilion is available on a first come, first served basis. If you are interested in holding a small event or meeting at the Pavilion, please email info@ruffnermountain.org . Note: the Pavilion must always be available to the public. No entity other than Ruffner Mountain can reserve the entire Pavilion for use.

 
 

Biodiversity

Want to learn more? Click below for community generated species lists of Ruffner's flora and fauna at iNaturlist.org!     Flora of Ruffner Mountain       Fauna of Ruffner Mountain

Want to learn more? Click below for community generated species lists of Ruffner's flora and fauna at iNaturlist.org!

Flora of Ruffner Mountain
Fauna of Ruffner Mountain

High biodiversity ensures the best chance of survival for each species within an ecosystem. Because everything in nature is cyclical, an increase in biodiversity will always result in a greater production of vital nutrients and energy. In the same way, any decrease in species populations, such as the long leaf pine, will result in a more unstable, less sustainable, and potentially dangerous environment.

All species of living things, humans included, rely on other living things, or organisms, to sustain them. Consider the bee, and how important it is for the pollination and growth of human-cultivated crops. If bees were ever to disappear, something like a third of global food production would very quickly collapse.

This is just one very big example, but the principle applies at even the tiniest of levels, from the tallest tree canopy, to the mycelial networks branching out below the soil, to the sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico. Other possible examples include the symbiotic relationship of mosses and lichens, the reintroduction of wolves at Yosemite National Park which led to an increase in other species populations, such as the beaver and Aspen, or the countless ways in which humans affect and interact with the land they inhabit, from deforestation to mountaintop removal to worksite runoff.

In this vast web we call our ecosystem, a single strand connects to and joins all the others. To alter or remove one would be to throw the entire network out of balance. Think about a string of lights during the holidays, and how one bulb going out means that the entire strand goes dark. Biodiversity is like that, but on a higher scale by multiple orders of magnitude, and each of those strands criss-cross and connect like the threads of a spider’s web.