Our Backyard, Your Escape – Athens-Limestone Alabama

By: Cayce Lee

Athens-Limestone County, Alabama, is conveniently located at the “Crossroads of North Alabama” – with access from I-65, I-565, U.S. Hwy 31, U.S. Hwy 72, and countless state and county routes. This convenience makes the area the perfect playground for getting outdoors, with an abundance of trails, waterways, prime fishing grounds, and RV parks awaiting you. These marvelous gems are tucked among the emerald greenways and luscious landscapes of our blooming and friendly communities.

No matter what your escape requires, you’ll find options in Athens-Limestone County. RVing, boating, fishing, swimming, water skiing, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, birding, or just simple relaxation – there’s a playground for everyone. Limestone County is served not only by the Tennessee River but the Elk River and offers water that is suitable for rafting, fishing, and water sports.

The Wheeler Lake and the Elk River host several fishing tournaments throughout the year, including the Cabela King Kat Tournament, Alabama Bass Trail – Wheeler Lake, City of Athens Relay for Life Bass Tournament, as well as smaller tournaments for the weekend angler like the Friday Night Bass Tournament, Saturday Night Tournament, Bama Blues Catfish Tournament and the Heartland Anglers Bass Tournament. Anglers will enjoy the chance at three different kinds of catfish, three different kinds of bass plus bream, crappie, sauger and other species.

From enthusiast to lazy-day pacer, there’s a trail to suit your needs in the Athens-Limestone area, with over 30 trails, tracks and treks to choose from. If you’d like to keep things in an urban environment, the city of Athens offers several trails featuring the history and architecture of Athens, including the Columns and Culture Trail, Beaty Historic District Trail, and the Athens Historic Volksmarch, or just enjoy any one of the tracks dotted throughout Athens-Limestone.

The Richard Martin Rails-to-Trails is a 10.3 mile trail starting just south of the northern border of Alabama in Veto and traveling through Civil War historic site of the Battle of Sulfur Creek Trestle before continuing through the heart of town of Elkmont to finish at Piney Chapel Road north of Athens at Coffman-Mitchell Park. Walkers, bikers, and horseback riders can enjoy this scenic trail through nature along the reclaimed railroad that once served as the L&N Railroad connection between Louisville and Birmingham.

The Noah Bike and Antique Car Trail winds its way through Limestone County for nearly 90-miles of history, scenery, and adventure – perfect for a road trip in the family car, your classic cruiser, or testing the curves with your motorcycle. Several of Limestone communities are highlighted along the way with options to stop at sites including historic churches, cemeteries, and nature areas. The Noah Bike and Antique Car Trail is a great way to link the trails and attractions of the Richard Martin Rails-to-Trails, Marbut’s Bend Accessible Nature Trail, Athens-Limestone County African-American Heritage Trail, Athens-Limestone County Civil War Trail, and the Limestone County Canoe and Kayak Trail.

RVers have the option of views and location in Athens-Limestone from the shores of the Tennessee River to the heart of Elkmont. RVers are always welcome in Athens-Limestone with RV parks conveniently located to attractions, waterways, and the interstate simply by choosing one of the conveniently located RV parks. Cowford Landing and Riverview RV Resort have access to the bass-rich Tennessee River and boat launches, walking trails, and convenience station. Mill Creek Park visitors can choose to pull the RV in and enjoy access to the town of Elkmont, the Noah Bike and Antique Car Trail, the Richard Martin Rails-to-Trails, and Limestone County Canoe and Kayak Trail. While RV visitors looking to spend their time in historic Athens can choose to make their home at Northgate RV Park at Exit 354 or Swan Creek Park at Exit 347.

Music lovers will enjoy the variety of venues offering music in every corner of Athens-Limestone — from jamming on the river with Lucy’s BARge to toe-tapping fun in the heart of Athens with Mac’s Sports Bar and Steakhouse to several choices just over the border in Minor Hill, TN, and Ardmore, TN to enjoy. Music is a big part of life in Athens-Limestone and you’ll find it featured at many festivals, including the “Granddaddy of them all,” the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention.

Art lovers will find opportunities dotting Athens-Limestone as well with Creator’s Corner and Jack and Jill’s Clayhouse in Ardmore or High Cotton Art and The Broken Brush in downtown Athens where you can unleash your inner Picasso. You’ll find arts and crafts at many of the festivals through the year, like the Ardmore Crape Myrtle Festival and the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention among them.

Hungry? Athens-Limestone offers over 100 restaurants to choose from to tickle your taste buds from your chain favorites to mom-and-pops. Whether you’re in Ardmore, Lester, Tanner, Elkmont, Athens, or points in between, you’re never far from a place to grab a meal. You can find dining options under “Plan Your Visit” at VisitAthensAL.com under “Restaurants.”

Athens-Limestone Tourism has created brochures highlighting available trails, tracks, and treks in the greater Limestone County area, including Ardmore, Mooresville, Lester, Elkmont and Athens. These brochures are available at the Athens-Limestone Visitors Center, 100 N. Beaty St., Athens, AL, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday or by visiting www.VisitAthensAL.com under “Plan Your Visit” or using the “Contact Us” form to request a copy. You can also reach the Athens-Limestone Visitors Center by calling 256-232-5411.
By: Cayce Lee
Social Media Specialist, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association