Ruffner Mountain Nature Center is a nature preserve and a Certified Wildlife Habitat. Protection of native plants and animals is of foremost importance.
Dogs are welcome to walk on the trails, but must be on a leash at all times. Dogs are not allowed in our facilities.
No overnight camping. No hunting. No fires. No fireworks. No guns. No alcohol.
Trails are for foot traffic only. No bikes, motorcycles, ATV’s or vehicles are allowed.
No caving or exploration of mines without specific written permission from the Executive Director.
Our rock walls are unstable and dangerous to climb. No rock climbing: freehand or with use of ropes.
If visiting with a group of 10 people or more, please schedule your visit with us so that we can best accommodate your group. You may email us at
or call (205) 833-8264 ext 11 or 13.
Seasons and Weather
Spring – An explosion of greenery, native wildflowers and migratory birds can be seen. Weather can be unpredictable and a warming trend is typically followed by rain so be prepared for the unexpected.
Summer – The wildflowers and native plants continue to be spectacular and the weather can be very hot and dry. Thunderstorms may come up suddenly in the afternoons. Bring plenty of water, bug spray and sunscreen.
Fall – Fall brings colorful foliage and can be either dry or rainy. Temperatures are comfortable and a great time to hike the mountain, although the number of visitors will also be at the highest.
Winter – If you are looking for a peaceful experience, then a visit in the winter may be just the thing. Birding opportunities are very good and there are many days of comfortable weather to enjoy. Below freezing temperatures and snow are rare occurrences.
Ample secure parking with ADA accessibility is available at the Visitor Center and Mountainside Pavilion area. A small gravel parking lot is available in the Irondale area, off Ruffner Road.
The Tree Top Visitor Center, is an environmentally green building with many energy saving and sustainable features and ADA accessibility. Information Booth, gift shop, mining history exhibits, the Woodland Animal Exhibit Hall with live Alabama animals in realistic habitats, bird viewing nook, and large meeting and activity room are located there. The lobby video display sites on the mountain and upcoming events. Facility rentals are available.
The Mountainside Pavilion is an environmentally green building with ADA accessibility, features restrooms, drink/snack vending, and a picnic area. Facility rentals are available.
Wetlands for Wildlife Habitat
The wetlands are a special destination with boardwalk and trail located on the Irondale side of the mountain. The wetlands can be reached by trail from the Visitor Center and from the parking area on Ruffner Road in Irondale. Currently no facilities are available at the wetlands. Plans for improvements in the future include: a pavilion, toilets, ADA parking, and an access road directly from Ruffner Road.
Trails and Maps
12 miles of trails are available for hiking and range in difficulty from easy and short to long and strenuous. All trails interconnect back to the Visitor Center. The nature preserve is a ridge that spans about a mile wide and about three miles in length. The Visitor Center, located at 33 degrees 33’ 32” N and 86 degrees 42’ 25” W, is approximately in the center of the ridge and the location of the head of the trail system.
Trail maps are available at the Visitor Center Information Desk or may be downloaded in PDF format and printed on your printer.