Destination Alabama: Hays Nature Reserve


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HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Social distancing forces many people to stay close to home. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay locked inside.

Hays Nature Preserve in Huntsville is full of fresh air and free activities for people of all ages and abilities.

“People come here, they are just excited to be in nature, children can use their imaginations, adults can see wildlife, trees and green grass and large areas,” said Joy McKee, Director of Landscape for the City of Huntsville.

The nature reserve provides a place within the city limits for hiking, biking, fishing and even horse riding.

“I would say this is one of the best destinations in Alabama because it offers so much for everyone,” McKee said.

Mckee said the 538 acres of land was donated to the city by the Hays family.

“Annie Wade Hays’ vision was that education and children use their imaginations and be able to go out and let off steam and let off steam and run and have a good time maybe rather than always being on their shelves or watching television was a way out into nature and that was his vision.

McKee explained that Hays’ vision has come true – with thousands of children using the area.

There is also plenty of water to enjoy, such as the bar lake.

“This is the one in which we allow people to fish and there is no charge, and oh by the way, you don’t need a license here,” she said.

However, if you venture further into the reserve and fish in the Flint River, you will need a fishing license.

There’s also a launch station built to help get Flint’s kayaks and canoes in and out.

“It’s one of those places that are the best kept secrets in Huntsville, and it’s no longer a secret,” McKee said.

Walk a little further on the trails and you can see state-of-the-art water-tupelo trees and a mini cave.

“Look at the blue heron, look at all the love that is here with nature and it’s just a lot of fun.”

All activities are free, all they ask is that you take whatever you bring with you, home.

“We encourage, leave no trace,” she said. Come as you like and leave as if you’ve never been there.

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