Historic Blakeley State Park opens its new Champion Tree Trail on Saturday, Feb. 25, as part of its Arbor Day celebration. The Champion Tree Trail stars two Alabama Champion Trees as well as many other native species that will have signs identifying them.
The Champion Trees are a Sweetbay Magnolia, which has 18-inch-long leaves, and a Hercules Club, more commonly known as the “toothache” tree because because chewing on the leaves or bark causes numbing of the teeth, mouth and gums.
Native Americans used the toothache tree for medicinal purposes, Jo Ann Flirt, director of the park, said. “It is an incredibly ugly tree,” she admitted. But it is also large, historic and unusual.
The day begins at 8:15 a.m. with a tree tour led by Dean Trawick, a forester and project manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The narrated trail walk is free with regular park admission of $4 for adults and $3 for children ages 6-12. Families are welcome to bring well-behaved dogs on leashes, Flirt said.
Blakeley will also be giving away tree seedlings for people to plant at home, courtesy of the Alabama Forestry Commission.
A Delta Adventure boat tour of the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. The two-hour tour costs $25 for adults and $15 for children ages 6-12. Seats are first-come, first-served or may be reserved by calling 251-626-5581 and paying with a major credit card.
The Tree Trail is about three-quarters of a mile long and takes 45 minutes to walk. “The trail begins by going down into the bottom area of what was Jackson Springs, the source of the water supply in the 1800s for the town,” Flirt said.
The trail is moderate in difficulty, with steps, steep spots and walkways through low-lying areas but not through the entire trail. It begins and ends at a parking area. Flirt said the park’s natural attributes work together with its Civil War historic sites to encourage mutual preservation.
For more information, go to www.blakeleypark.com.