Freshwater Land Trust opens the Hugh Kaul Trail to Avondale. Next up: Trail to Cahaba Brewing [PHOTOS]

Earth Day
Grand opening at the Hugh Kaul Trail on April 22, 2022. Left to Right – Freshwater Land Trust Board member Jeanne Jackson, FLT Executive Director Rusha Smith, Dr. Mark Wilson, Jefferson County Public Health Officer, Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, FLT’s Carolyn Buck

On April 22nd—Earth Day 2022—, the Freshwater Land Trust (FLT) officially opened the Hugh Kaul Trail segment connecting Rotary Trail to Avondale. 

The newly completed trail begins at 1st Ave South and 24th Street and ends in the center of the Avondale Entertainment District on 41st Street. 

A 2nd Trail Segment – to Cahaba Brewing

Map of the second segment of the Hugh Kaul Trail to Cahaba Brewing in Avondale

But wait—there’s more!

Along with cutting the ribbon on the new trail behind the M2 building at 3501 1st Avenue South, FLT also held a groundbreaking for the next segment of the Hugh Kaul Trail, formerly known as the Continental Gin Connector. 

The forthcoming trail addition to the Hugh Kaul Trail will connect 41st Street to the historic Continental Gin Complex, home to Cahaba Brewing. This portion of the trail is slated to be completed this summer—right on time for The World Games. 

Upon completion, the entire Hugh Kaul Trail will be approximately 2 1/2 miles long. The trail is a critical component to ultimately connecting downtown Birmingham to Ruffner Mountain. 

Partnerships Matter

Hugh Kaul Trail 16 Freshwater Land Trust opens the Hugh Kaul Trail to Avondale. Next up: Trail to Cahaba Brewing [PHOTOS]
Left to Right – Freshwater Land Trust Board member Jeanne Jackson, Dr. Mark Wilson, Jefferson County Public Health Officer, FLT Executive Director Rusha Smith, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson. (Jacob Blankenship/Bham Now)

The new trail could not have been completed without the support of the community, according to Carolyn Buck, FLT’s Red Rock Trail System Director. 

“Trail projects of this magnitude aren’t possible without committed community partners.” 

The new Hugh Kaul Trail is part of Red Rock Trail System’s Jones Valley Trail corridor that runs through the middle of Birmingham and includes outdoor destinations like Railroad Park, Rotary Trail, Sloss Furnaces, and the Pepper Place Market District.

Commuters frequent the existing trail—cycling, running, and walking between Birmingham’s eastern, western, and downtown communities. 

“The Jones Valley Trail corridor is already loved by many and will be accessible to many more after the entire Hugh Kaul Trail is complete,” said Buck.

The Hugh Kaul Foundation’s generous support for the growing Red Rock Trail System resulted in naming rights for the trail.

750 Miles of Trail

Hugh Kaul Trail. (Jacob Blankenship/Bham Now)

FLT is currently working with the national active transportation company, Alta Planning + Design, and local engineering firm, Dynamic Civil Solutions, to update the Red Rock Trail System’s 10-year master plan for trails throughout Jefferson County, including the Birmingham metropolitan area. Once complete, FLT will aggressively pursue the next trail projects and look to additional community partners for support. 

“At Freshwater Land Trust we could not be more excited to add this to the Red Rock Trail System,” said Rusha Smith, Executive Director of Freshwater Land Trust. “This gets us close to 130 miles of trail on the ground, headed toward our  goal of 750 miles throughout the county. The reason we are doing this is  so everyone in our county can have a green space within a mile of their home.”

The Hugh Kaul Trail is part of the growing Red Rock Trail System, which Freshwater Land Trust is responsible for facilitating in Jefferson County, and it follows the completion of a number of popular other Red Rock trails, including Rotary Trail, Kiwanis Vulcan Trail and the High Ore Line to Red Mountain Park connection. 

Additional Projects Coming Along the Hugh Kaul Trail

In addition to the new trail, several new projects are in the works.

Sunrise Rotary Plaza

Map of the the Sunrise Rotary Plaza Rendering. (Jacob Blankenship/Bham Now)

Behind the M2 Building and Ghost Train Taproom is the Sunrise Rotary Plaza. The Plaza will feature ample seating along the urban walkway, in addition to a custom-made art installation by Deedee Morrison. According to members of the Sunrise Rotary Club, the project’s namesake, they anticipate the project to be finished by the start of The World Games.  

Btw – they are still taking donations.

10,000 Square Foot Mural

Hugh Kaul Trail 19 Freshwater Land Trust opens the Hugh Kaul Trail to Avondale. Next up: Trail to Cahaba Brewing [PHOTOS]
Shawn Fitzwater, Fitz Murals (Jacob Blankenship/Bham Now)

During the ribbon -cutting ceremony, Smith informed the gathering that the Freshwater Land Trust Board has commissioned Fitz Murals to paint a 10,000 square foot mural behind the M2 building along the trail.  

Freshwater Land Trust Executive Director Rusha Smith talks about the new RotaryTrailExtension with Leadership Birmingham Alumni . She is holding the rendering of the 10,000 sq.ft. mural. (Bham Now)

Depicting activities that occur along the traail such as cycling, dog walking, skating and much more, the mural is expected to be finished before The World Games in July.


M2 development
M2 development in Birmingham. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

The M2 Building is looking to attract a restaurant next to Ghost Train Taproom.

“Our group has been working for several years on developing the M2 project, and the trail development has been a driving factor in our tenants’ decisions to locate their businesses here. Thanks to the Hugh Kaul Foundation, Freshwater Land Trust and donors large and small who helped bring this section of trail to fruition, the expansion of public greenways through this neighborhood is yet another reason that Avondale and Birmingham continue to grow into vibrant and energetic places to live and work.” Bruce Lanier, Co-Developer of M2

Earth Day 2022

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day 2022 than taking a walk on Birmingham’s Hugh Kaul Trail.
Want to try it out this weekend? Visit the FLT “Find a Trail” interactive map. 

Have you tried out the new Hugh Kaul Trail? Tag us @bhamnow on social media to let us know!

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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