If you are planning a visit to Lake Martin, one thing that absolutely, positively has to be on your to-do list is Russell Crossroads the unique town center of the Russell Lands community. It is a really cool place located 3 miles north of Lake Martin’s Kowaliga Bridge on Highway 63. You will know you have arrived when you see the clock tower next to the Town Green. As you pull in, you will see the cobblestone streets and handcrafted street lamps. There is no detail left out. The best way I can describe it is that it is like stepping back in time, while still experiencing the luxuries of today. I could talk all day about the things I like about Russell Crossroads, but there are no words to describe the special feeling you feel when you are there. You really have to experience it for yourself, but here are 10 of my favorite things about Russell Crossroads:
1. Free Live Music
Every Friday night during the summer, Russell Lands rocks out with Friday on the Green, the perfect way to wind down after a busy week. They provide live music from 6:30pm-8:30pm and it’s free to attend. You just have to bring yourself, your friends and family, your leashed dog, and a blanket or lawn chairs. You can also bring your own food and drinks. Pack a cooler, or if you prefer, just stop in Catherine’s Market that is located next door. Get a bottle of wine and some snacks, and come claim your spot on the lawn.
2. Free Yoga
Yoga on the Green happens every Saturday morning during the summer at 7am. It is so beautiful out there, and this is the perfect spot for your yoga practice. The natural surroundings add so much to the experience, and trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Russell Lands provides the teacher and the awesome location to create that perfect zen. You just show up with your yoga mat and water bottle and be ready to take in the good vibes. And yes, this is free too.
3. The Stables
Russell Crossroads has entry points leading into Russell Forest and this is one of the most scenic places to ride horses and take in the beauty of the forest. While you are able to bring your own horses on designated trails, The Stables offers guided horseback rides perfect for all ages and has horses perfect for any experience level. The rides take you through the forest, by the lake, and even through shallow creeks. It is a really magical experience. They also offer carriage rides, and if you are looking for a unique experience, they can even arrange picnics in the forest.
4. Biking and Hiking
We talked about why Russell Forest is great for horseback riding, but it is also great for biking and hiking. Russell Lands has set aside several thousand acres of property that make up Russell Forest, and there are over 100 miles of trails to explore. But don’t worry-you won’t get lost. The trails are very well marked and so easy to navigate. The Russell Lands App is super helpful with a trails map, lake map, and business hours and info and really simple to use. If you are going to the trails, make sure you download it first, and you will be able to locate where you are at any given time. You can also share your location and see your friends’ locations on the trail map, record your treks and the distances you travel, post them to social media, etc. I also like that they have a process by which they ask that you check in with security before embarking on your trek. You just call 256-329-1511 when you start your venture into the forest. As a female who often hikes solo, it is refreshing to know that there is someone that knows I am in the forest and is awaiting my call that I have completed my hike. They truly care about the people that use the forest, and it shows by the extra steps that they take. On a deeper level, the maintenance of Russell Forest is very important too. By maintaining Russell Forest as a working forest, it means that Russell Lands will continue to provide filtration of their part of the watershed to keep Lake Martin as one of America’s cleanest lakes. I think that is pretty cool too!
5. The Adventure Center
As the name implies, this is your stop for adventure! Whether you need a canoe, kayak, paddle boat, paddleboard, or bike, they have what you need to make your most adventurous dreams of Lake Martin come true. Rentals are available, and lifejackets are included at no charge for canoe, kayak, paddle boat, or paddleboard rentals. Helmets are included at no charge for bike rentals. There are also people to chat with there about the adventures that await in our area who will help guide you as you set forth to make memories with your loved ones.
6. The Dining
Foodies celebrate over a trip to Russell Crossroads, where they can find two great dining experiences-Catherine’s Market and SpringHouse. Catherine’s Market offers the finest provisions and is also the home to a cafe, where you can find delicious pastries, locally roasted coffees, and a full lunch menu. And like I mentioned above, it’s a great stop to pick up food and drinks for Friday on the Green. If you are looking for a fine dining experience in the Lake Martin area, the first thing that any local will tell you is that you have to check out SpringHouse. You can’t beat the ambience! It is located on a hilltop with panoramic views, and the exposed stone gives the main dining room a rustic, casual feel. They also have 2 outdoor patios and an upstairs bar and dining area. If you are looking for a really unique experience, ask about the WellHouse. This is a private dining experience for up to 12 people, and it is actually a private area connected to the restaurant by an underground tunnel, which also serves as the main wine cellar. Trust me, you have not had a dining experience quite like this!
7. On Site Naturalist
If you are as amazed by nature and wildlife as I am, this is a must-do while at Russell Crossroads. Russell Lands Naturalist Marianne Hudson is a lifelong student of nature and has spent most of her personal and professional life in the woods. She is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the State of Alabama to raise and release native wildlife. She will introduce you to the area’s flora and fauna through scheduled guided nature tours and wildlife presentations at the Russell Crossroads Naturalist Cabin. You can always check the Russell Lands Event Calendar on their website or in the app to know when these tours and presentations are happening.
8. The Discovery Center
This is a treat for the history buffs! They say you have to know where you came from to know where you are going, and Russell Crossroads celebrates the history that made our area what it is today. Lake Martin and the Russell Family have very interesting histories, and this is where you will have the opportunity to learn about it. In the Discovery Center, you will find a three-dimensional pictorial timeline of the Lake Martin area and a display of artifacts from the region. When people visit our area, they often do not want to leave. If you find yourself in this position, you will also find people at the Discovery Center that can help guide you on opportunities for relocation to our area as well. The Discovery Center also doubles at Russell Lands’ real estate sales center.
9. Holiday Events
While summers are amazing at Russell Crossroads, and there is always something going on, there are some pretty awesome annual events that happen in the latter part of the year as well. The Fall Family Festival happens each October and there you will find a pumpkin patch, wagon and pony rides, a petting zoo, scavenger hunt, and more. This is also the time that they host their Pie and Cake Baking Contest. The Friday after Thanksgiving is when they host Christmas at Crossroads and the Holiday Bazaar. Santa will be there, so make sure you bring the kiddos for Christmas photos. There are also arts and crafts activities, games, and some of the best and most unique Black Friday shopping you will find. Artisans come from all over and you have a chance to shop a variety of handmade goods like jewelry, soap, lotions, paintings, pottery, woodwork, furniture, and more.
So you now know about many of the wonderful things that make up Russell Crossroads. It truly is a special place, and it is also a special place to start your life with your special someone. Russell Lands has been featured in the press and highlighted for their top-notch wedding venues, and it is definitely a place you want to check out if you are tying the knot and want the extra special touches on your wedding day. SpringHouse and The Stables are beautiful wedding spots, and there are options to accommodate up to 400 people. Russell Lands has some other beautiful spots outside of Russell Crossroads that are available for weddings as well.
Address: 17 Russell Farms Road Alexander City, AL 35010
You can also come by boat. Just arrive at Russell Crossroads landing, and you can catch a shuttle to Russell Crossroads. From Sand Island head east towards the Windermere Water Tower (tower is Sky blue) on the horizon. Bear to the left and at the very back of the cove, you will see new boat slips. Call the Adventure Center at 256-496-3677 for shuttle service.