Fall is in the air at Lake Martin, Alabama! Water levels are dropping, leaves on trees are changing, and the spooky season is just around the corner. Last weekend was Wind Creek State Park’s annual Fall Festival. Guests enjoyed a pumpkin decorating contest, costume parade, trick or treating, and even a campsite decorating contest. It is always the third Saturday of October, and campsites sell out quickly. Reservations have to be made well in advance.
There’s still more Fall fun to be had in our area this year though, and we have your ultimate guide to all the must-do Fall festivities around the lake!
The Great Pumpkin Patch
Strand Park – Alexander City, AL
11AM – 6PM
When Fall is in full swing, what better way to celebrate than finding the perfect pumpkin at the downtown Pumpkin Patch! Conveniently located at Strand Park, guests can choose from countless gourds and pumpkins of all shapes, sizes, and colors making the perfect pick for your Fall decorations or spooky jack-o-lantern. The pumpkin patch runs the last two weeks in October and all proceeds benefit Main Street Alexander City. You can get more information here.
Holiday Arts and Crafts Market
Pennington Park-Dadeville, AL
Everything’s Art and Pennington Park will host Dadeville’s 1st Annual Holiday Arts and Crafts Market on October 23, 2021, from 10 am-3 pm in Pennington Park- located at 121 N. Spring Street in downtown Dadeville. The Market will feature local arts and crafts, live music, and food trucks. Pennington Park markets have become known for quality and original hand-made creations to include jewelry, crafts, and art work- and this event promises to deliver nothing less. Music will be provided by Richard Murray. Get more information here.
Fabulous Fall Colors Walk
Wind Creek State Park-Alexander City, AL
Autumn is a magical time, as Alabama’s forests move from seas of vibrant great to a beautiful quilt of yellows, oranges, and reds. Join Wind Creek interpreters to discover some of the park’s rich fall colors during a leisurely stroll! Get more information here.
Leaf Rubbing Craft
Wind Creek State Park-Alexander City, AL
If you take a stroll around Wind Creek State Park, you’ll spy leaves of every shape and size! Collect fallen leaves from trees and shrubs and make beautiful leaf rubbings to take home! Get more information here.
Trunk or Treat
Alexander City Municipal Complex – Alexander City, AL
5PM – 7PM
Get a jump start on Halloween celebrations! The Alexander City Municipal Complex and Area 51 welcome trick or treaters to stop by and show off their costumes, while enjoying live music, food trucks, and more. Get more information here.
Russell Crossroads – Alexander City, AL
6PM – 8PM
Walk the Turpentine Trail and learn about the animals in Russell Forrest! Meet live, creepy critters with Naturalist Marianne Hudson at the Town Green, then take a guided tour along the trail to “meet” the animals. Local student actors dressed in costumes portray the forest animals in their natural habitat and give a glimpse into the life of a hawk, snake, deer, and more!
Turpentine Tales is designed for young children but makes for an entertaining learning experience for groups of any age. The event is free for the public and though walk ups are welcome, reservations are advised. To make reservations email Karen Kison at: email@example.com or get more information here.
Russell Crossroads Fall Family Festival
Russell Crossroads – Alexander City, AL
10AM – 1PM
Join Russell Crossroads for their annual Fall Family Festival this year! Bring the whole family out to enjoy live demonstrations from a working blacksmith, wagon and pony rides, a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, and much more! If you’re looking to sweeten up your day, grab your favorite family recipe and enter into the annual Blue-Ribbon Canning and Baking Contest. Every year bakers bring their best pies, cheesecakes, jams and more… Yum! And the best part? Your dessert could win you cash prizes at this year’s festival.
The entrance cost is $25 per family, based on a family of four or $10 per individual. Get more information here.
Main Street Harvest Festival
Main Street – Alexander City, AL
11AM – 2PM
Get into the Fall spirit at the Main Street Harvest Festival. Located at Strand Park, it is the perfect place for friends and family to gather together and enjoy a day of games, arts & crafts, face painting, bouncy houses, and more! Along with local vendors to enjoy, it is also the final day of the pumpkin patch – making it the perfect time to grab your last-minute pumpkins too for Halloween. Get more information here.
Downtown Trick or Treat
Main Street – Alexander City, AL
11 AM – 1 PM
This trick-or-treating isn’t just for the kids! Dress up the family in your favorite costumes and head downtown for some Halloween fun. While your little ghouls and goblins trick-or-treat with local businesses, you can enjoy shopping some spooky good sales at the stores. Get more information here.
Marvelous Mask Making
Wind Creek State Park-Alexander City, AL
3PM – 4PM
Get in touch with your wild side with Wind Creek State Park’s “Marvelous Mask-Making” event. Join Wind Creek interpreters at the Club House to decorate unique masks, using natural materials such as fallen leaves, tree bark, and more! This event is open to the public, however, day use fees to enter into Wind Creek State Park may apply. Get more information here.
Monster Mash Street Bash and Bar Crawl
Main Street – Alexander City, AL
7PM – 11PM
It’s a Monster Mash! This one is for those 21 and up. Dress up in your spookiest costume and hit the downtown scene to catch live music and good times while bar hopping around different restaurants in the downtown square. The bar crawl kicks off at Carlos Mexican Grill, where participants can pay $10 to register and receive their bar crawl Bingo card. Anyone who completes all six stops on the card will be entered to win a spooky good prize.
In addition, Main Street will be filled with Halloween excitement! A DJ will be dropping the tunes all night long and a mechanical bull will be set up for any dare devils that night. Plus, your creative costume could also when you cash prizes – which is definitely something to howl about! Registration for the bar crawl is $10 at Carlos Mexican Grill. Get more information here.
Epic Fall Fest
Stone Ridge Baptist Church-Alexander City, AL
Epic Fall Fest is a family event with amazing Bible stories, creative Trunk or Treat, FREE dinner, and candy! You can also wear your costume if you would like. Get more information here.
They say the best exercise you can get is the one that you stick with, and for me it is hiking. There are plenty of people who love the gym, and if that is what is right for you, do it! Everyone needs physical activity to stay healthy. For me though, I get no enjoyment or motivation by being on a treadmill in a gym on a literal road to nowhere- and looking at the back of someone’s head on the row in front of me, who is also on that same road that will take us nowhere. I like for my paths to take me somewhere beautiful. I don’t always know where, or what I will see on the way, but that’s kind of the exciting part about it! By being out in nature, on a path that could be taking me to see beautiful flora and fauna, allowing me to feel the breeze of a fall morning, and hear the sweet sounds of the birds in the distance, I get rejuvenated and motivated. Nature also tends to bring me a feeling of peacefulness and inspiration. I feel so much excitement that I don’t even feel like I am working out. How could I be? This is actually fun! Whatever your form of exercise though, it is important that you stay motivated and keep pushing yourself. That is one thing I like about a challenge. It pushes me to do more. While I do go hiking when I can anyway, a challenge keeps me focused on an end goal, and completion of that goal offers a sense of accomplishment. That feeling of “I DID IT!” is a pretty cool feeling!
Aside from motivation to stay focused on hiking regularly and stay physically active, another thing I like about the hiking challenge is that it forces you to get out and see new things. Sometimes I get stuck just going to my favorite trail, but there is a joy that can’t be explained the first time you see something new-maybe it’s that cascading waterfall, or that amazing view from the top of a firetower. Let’s face it though-we all have so much going on in our lives that sometimes we take for granted what is right there in front of us. We don’t know the treasures that await us, until something pushes us to get out and explore. Sometimes those explorations show us things that we are in awe and wonder of, and sometimes they give us transformational experiences that change us as a person. There is definite value in getting out of the day to day hustle and bustle routine, and seeing new things.
So yes, this fall I am participating in two hiking challenges-at the same time. Am I crazy? Debatable. But is it possible? Yes! I have found a strategic way to do it, and wanted to share it with you. First, let me tell you about each challenge I am personally participating in.
What I think is cool about it: One of the most awesome things about this challenge is that the majority of the trails are a part of the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail. That means you have a really good shot at meeting some new feathered friends on your journey. You don’t even have to complete the entire trail. Many of the trails offer different options within the trail, and one for instance gives you different options for everything from a one mile hike to a seven mile hike. By just completing even a portion of each trail, you get to count it on your hiking log. It’s a great way to get out and see new things and stay within your own physical abilities, as some of the trails do have some challenging parts to them. While it is great to challenge yourself, just please be aware of your own physical abilities and comfort levels.
Logging your hikes: There is a log set up here where you just add in the date that you explore each of the trails. If you can’t download it, you can have one mailed to you. Once your hiking log is complete, you either email it or mail it to Lake Martin Tourism Association.
Your reward: As if discovering some cool new natural places wasn’t enough, there is indeed a little something extra you get at the end. Once you send in your hiking log, you will be mailed a custom patch and certificate.
How to brag about it on social media: #LakeMartinHikingChallenge #LakeMartinAlabama #LakeMartinTourism
Cost: $19.95 or $29.95 (one package includes a cool T shirt)
Dates: October 1, 2021-November 30, 2021
The hiking trails and the challenge: This challenge lets you hike any trails you want to hike! There are no limitations and you can hike anywhere you like around the world! The goal is to hike 50 miles in a period of 2 months. However, the hike has to be on an actual trail (not a street or a sidewalk unless it just connects part of the trail), and each hike has to be at least 2 miles long. That part is nice because it does help you stay focused on the endurance of doing at least 2 miles. Since this one is mileage based, I downloaded a free phone app to keep up with how many miles I hike on each trek.
What I think is cool about it: Well this one does come with a T shirt I liked, so I can literally say, “Been There, Done That, Got the T Shirt!” With this one having no limitations of where you can do it geographically, you can do it with a friend who is out of town, and complete the challenge together, but separately. You can also include hikes when you go out of town and really diversify the trails that you explore. They also make a donation to plant a tree once you complete your challenge, so that is awesome too. It’s just a little extra motivation. If you finish the challenge, you get to make the world a better place. Just remember that when you are on mile 48 and trying to push through!
Logging your hikes: There is a log sheet that you can download here, and you are asked to email it in once you have completed the challenge.
Your reward: Depending on the package you choose, you could get things like a patch (while supplies last), a T shirt, and stickers.
How to brag about it on social media: #Fall50Challenge #MyAdventureChallenge #AlabamaOutdoorAdventurer
How to be strategic and complete both hiking challenges at the same time
So it may seem like a lot to complete both challenges at one time. However, by doing both simultaneously, I am actually doing some hikes that I can count toward both. Am I double dipping-I sure am. But-I am still following the rules of each. Each time I complete one of the trails on the Lake Martin Hiking Challenge, I make note of how many miles I hiked on that trail, and for the ones I have hiked after October 1, I am adding those hikes and miles to my log sheet for the Fall 50 Challenge. So yes, I am getting credit for both in some instances.
The trails that I hiked prior to October 1 or after November 30 will only count toward my Lake Martin Hiking Challenge. I did start that one on the first day it started because I got so excited and just couldn’t wait. I knocked out a couple before the beginning of October, but those that I am doing now, I am counting toward the Fall 50 Challenge.
Since October 1st, I have also taken the opportunity to hike a couple of trails out of town, and for those that are not the specific trails that are a part of the Lake Martin Hiking Challenge, I only count the miles toward my Fall 50 Challenge.
So, as you can see, the two log sheets aren’t total duplicates, but there is some overlap, and by being strategic, I am confident that I will be finishing both challenges by the end of November. What I do know is that by that time I will have been to a minimum of 10 awesome places, and hiked at least 50 miles. When you break it down over a couple of months, that is not that difficult. Keep in mind too, that while the Fall 50 Challenge ends at the end of November, if you don’t finish the Lake Martin Hiking Challenge by that time, that is totally ok. That is on ongoing program, and you can make multiple trips to the area to complete that one on your own schedule.
Now you know my secret of how I am completing two hiking challenges at one time. And you may ask why? The physical activity, the beautiful fall weather, and the opportunity to discover and explore new areas is something that excites me. Having that goal-or in this case-goals-to work toward, is something that is motivating and inspiring to me also. I like to be able to have that achievement. The patches are nice, but that feeling of completion and the experience itself means even more. Hoping that I will see you out on the trails too!
Horseshoe Bend National Military Park is an iconic landmark in the state of Alabama. Located approximately 20 minutes from both the city of Dadeville and the heart of Downtown Alexander City, this 2,040-acre land is home to one of the most influential battles in American history. Not only was it the final battle of the Creek War, it also ultimately resulted in the United States government obtaining over 23 million acres of land through the signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814. This land would later create a majority of the state of Alabama and portions of the state of Georgia- and kick off our country’s westward expansion. It was also the deadliest clash with Native Americans in our country’s history, resulting in over 800 Creek Indians perishing that fatal day.
Today, this battlefield is utilized as an immersive learning experience where guests can walk amongst the historical battle sites as well as tour the commemorative museum. This Park is free for all guests, making it the perfect way to spend a day indulged in one of the most epic events in American history.
History Behind Horseshoe Bend
This historic landmark was originally called “Cholocco Litabixbee” by the Creek Indians, meaning “Horse’s Flat Foot.” It was a description of the way the Tallapoosa River wrapped around the peninsula of land where the temporary Creek Indian village of Tohopeka was built.
In March of 1814, General Andrew Jackson led an army of approximately 3,300 men, including allied Cherokee and Lower Creek Indians, to cross the Tallapoosa River and surround the peninsula of Horseshoe Bend. He was met with force by opposing Upper Creek Indians, also known as the “Red Sticks”, who held their ground behind a strong barricade made of dirt and pine logs while the women and children sought shelter at their nearby Tohopeka Village. Here started one of the deadliest and most influential battles between indigenous people and US Troops in American history.
General Jackson attacked the barricade with artillery for hours to no avail. It wasn’t until an allied Cherokee Indian by the name of Tu-qua, or “Whale”, swam across the creek and stole a canoe that the battle began to shift in Jackson’s favor. Whale used the stolen canoe to shuttle other Cherokee Indians and soldiers across the river, creating an unexpected attack on the Red Sticks village from the rear. The Cherokee Indians set fire to the Tohopeka Village, burning it to the ground and taking the women and children as prisoners. With the distraction of the burning village and General Jackson’s men overtaking the Red Stick’s second line of defense, the fate was ultimately sealed for the Creek warriors at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. At least 800 of the 1,000 Creek Indians were slain in battle – the highest number of casualties of Native Americans clashing against US Troops in US history.
This was the final battle of the Creek War and in August of 1814 the Treaty of Fort Jackson was signed, with the Creek Nation ceding 23 million acres of land to the United States government. Viewed as a war hero and ruthless leader, Andrew Jackson was elected the seventh president of the United States in 1828.
Today, we are fortunate enough to have this land to walk and commemorate the lives and events that took place all those years ago. However, this almost wasn’t the case. In the 1920s, the land was nearly flooded over when plans were made to build the dam and create Lake Martin. However, local residents in the area worked tirelessly with Alabama Power to preserve this landmark and ensure Horseshoe Bend would not be affected by the flooding. In August 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the park’s proclamation, officially recognizing Horseshoe Bend as a National Park.
Plan Your Trip
The Horseshoe Bend National Military Park is 2,040 acres in size so you may need some help planning your day. Below is our roadmap to the park to ensure you experience everything that it has to offer!
The Visitor’s Center
The Visitor’s Center is a key stop to enjoying your day at the park. Located near the main parking lot, visitors can take a trip inside to grab a map of the guided tour stops, take a seat in the theatre to watch the feature film, and even walk through the newly renovated museum before hitting the battlefield sites. While here, don’t forget to grab yourself a souvenir to remember your day at this historical National Park!
Watch The Feature Film
It is highly recommended for first-time visitors to watch “the film”. With an approximate 23-minute run time, it simplifies the complex background of the Creek War and the events leading up to the Battle of Horseshoe Bend into an easy-to-follow storyline. Its purpose is to help visitors fully understand the weight of the history and battleground sites they are about to see. Guests can catch this film in the private theater located inside the Visitor’s Center.
Visit The Museum
Walk through the newly renovated museum featuring dioramas of the Tohopeka Village, life-size Red Stick warriors and American soldiers, and detailed descriptions of the people and lifestyle of the Creek Indian nation.
The museum is filled with realistic replicas including a life-size canoe, turtle shell rattles commonly used in Creek Indian stomp dances, and even a rifle dedicated by U.S. President James Madison to commemorate the Cherokee Indian by the name of “Whale”. Because of his role in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Whale was viewed as a courageous warrior and two rifles were made to honor him.
Pack A Picnic
Before hitting the hiking trail or touring the grounds, visitors can enjoy lunch outdoors with a picnic at one of the two locations on site. Located directly across from the Visitor’s Center is the larger picnic area, consisting of covered pavilions and tables located throughout the designated site. Charcoal grills and a trash receptacle are also available at this location. The second designated picnic area is a smaller section near the Miller Covered Bridge boat ramp. Picnicking is not permitted on the battlefield or the Tohopeka Village site.
Hike The Trail
Horseshoe Bend National Military Park boasts a 2.8 mile long nature trail that intertwines throughout the Battlefield and near Tohopeka Village. This trail is also a part of the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail, giving hikers a great opportunity to see a variety of bird species throughout the year. The trail at Horseshoe Bend National Military Park is also a part of the Lake Martin Hiking Challenge. The route can be rigorous in some areas, so come prepared with comfortable shoes and hydration.
Tour The Historic Battle Sites
Perhaps the most popular way to experience Horseshoe Bend National Park is by driving the guided road tour. This 3-mile loop is designated as a commemorative route and takes visitors around the historic sites where the famous battle took place.
Each stopping point is easily spotted by a tour guide marker and consists of either a plaque or exhibit with descriptions of the site. Each stop also has an interactive cell phone tour, consisting of a phone number that visitors can call to hear an in-depth voice recording and descriptive story of each location. Though most stops are easily accessible by pulling up in your vehicle, some do require taking a footpath to see the full exhibit.
The guided road tour stops include:
This is the first clearing with informational markers that visitors will see on the road tour. It is not technically a battle site, but rather the location where Andrew Jackson’s army first arrived on the scene. The hill itself is named “Cotton Patch Hill” and is very steep. Here, guests can see an image of General Andrew Jackson’s battle map as well as look down over the field where the famous barricade once stood, and the battle of Horseshoe Bend took place in the distance. Though there is a paved pathway to the top, visitors with disabilities may find it difficult to climb this hill and are encouraged to see the battlefield from Tour Stop 5 labeled on maps as “Newyaucau Town and the Aftermath”.
This is the first official stop on the driving tour. In the distance, the Miller Covered Bridge can be seen where kayakers will often times drop in to paddle the Tallapoosa River, passing by what many refer to as “Bean’s Island”. This 15-acre island is named after Lt. Jesse Bean, whose Tennessee militia stood post during the Battle of Horseshoe Bend to keep the Red Stick warriors from escaping and seeking refuge from the battle.
Here guests will see white fence posts lining across the field, representing what once was the famous Red Stick warrior barricade. It was written by Andrew Jackson that the log breastwork was “eighty-poles in length, from five to eight feet high & of remarkable compactness and strength…” The 400-yard long barricade was made of dirt and pine logs, and was designed to protect their temporary village of Tohopeka. It stood strong against Andrew Jackson’s army of cannonballs by absorbing them almost like a sponge.
At this stop guests can also walk up a small incline to “Gun Hill”, an exhibit where the artillery of General Andrew Jackson’s men once stood. It is now represented by a light blue cannon and a monument erected by the Congress of the United States, commemorating the battleground.
Located in the “horseshoe” of the peninsula was the Creek village of Tohopeka. The Red Sticks were hoping that the surrounding river would protect them from an attack. However, at this location a Cherokee Indian by the name of Tu-qua, or “Whale”, stole a Creek canoe and helped Jackson’s militia and allied Cherokees cross the river and attack Tohopeka Village. This stop is marked by two informative plaques, one marking where the Cherokee Indians crossed over in the stolen canoe and the second on the other side of the road, overlooking the field where the Tohopeka Village once stood.
Tohopeka was a temporary village for the Red Stick community, and it was here that the Creek women and children stayed during the battle. This location is also referred to as “The High Ground” and was originally intended to be used as a second line of defense by the Red Sticks. However, because of the stolen canoe, Cherokee Indians were able to cross the river and have access to this village from behind, thus burning it to the ground and creating a distraction from the barricade. It is thought that the burning of the village may have been a crucial turning point of the battle.
A short trail from the parking area at this stop leads through the woods to an exhibit and clearing where visitors can look down from the high ground to where the village once stood.
Newyaucan Town and the Aftermath
This is the final stop on the road tour. From here, visitors can see the battlefield and barricade while reflecting on the events that took place here at Horseshoe Bend. Our recommendation is to dial the informative number posted near the tour plaque. It gives an in-depth conclusion and aftermath of the battle and what all unfolded from these events. This includes the signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson where the Creek Nation had to cede 23 million acres of land to the United States, thus creating the state of Alabama and a large portion of the state of Georgia. In addition, Andrew Jackson was praised for his bravery and war tactics and was eventually elected the seventh President of the United States in 1829.
Download the Phone App
Take the park with you! Download the National Park Services app and get all the information you need about Horseshoe Bend National Military Park at your fingertips.
Alabama is honored to be home to Horseshoe Bend National Military Park. Be sure to add this to your next day trip bucket list.
Water Level 490 (The water level will start to drop on 10/15, but you can always keep up with the current water level here)
Clarity / Clear
Lake Martin fall fishing can be amazing, and I see no reason why 2021 will be no different.
This month on 10/15/21 the lake draw down begins, and by end of 2021, Lake Martin will be down 10 feet. This is exactly what it used to be pulled down to every year, but the last 5 years, they held it at 7 feet below full pool. I for one am very excited that the extra 3 feet draw down is happening this year. Why you ask? Well it’s very simple in the eyes of a fisherman, you end up with a lot less acres of surface water to have to search for fish on. That’s right- it narrows down the areas that the fish have to hide from you, and as a professional charter guide, you are always hunting for an edge to help put your clients on fish. So yes, I’m excited!
Based on 2020 striper catches, I plan on live baiting the entire month. I will concentrate searching in water depth of 50 feet and less. I personally think both sides of the lake will produce striper catches. So whether you like the Ridge south area or the Ridge north area, you should have good fishing at both ends .
If you are a trolling person instead of a live bait person, you will be pleasantly surprised on how many fish you should be able to catch. Whether it’s stripers or spotted bass, you will have fun in October.
If you like lots of action, beautiful weather, and beautiful scenery, come spend a day with us here on Lake Martin. You will be glad you did.
When I first moved to Lake Martin last fall, I heard so much about the bass fishing. If you have ever even heard of Lake Martin in passing, you too have surely heard how well known it is for that. The lake is home to largemouth, spotted, and striped bass, and anglers come from near and far to fish the waters here in hopes of catching the big one-both recreationally and competitively. Upon my arrival, I was excited to see how many professional bass fishing tournaments come to Lake Martin for their competitive events. It is easy to get caught up in the fun of that, and want to catch that big one yourself. Earlier this year, when the Crank 4 Bank competition was launched, I told you about the opportunity to catch a bass on Lake Martin that was worth a million dollars. Even though I had never caught a bass, I felt the need to gear up and hit the waters in search of my retirement plan! While I had a blast trying to catch that elusive bass, the first fish I ended up catching was a catfish.
I was fishing from shore in a little creek that day, and I would not be telling the truth if I said that catch was intentional-or that I had any idea what I was doing. That was the accidental catfish- but it was fun to catch, and I then wanted to learn more about intentionally fishing for this species. After asking around, I found the perfect person to teach me all about catfishing-Jerry Bynum. Jerry has lived here for years fishing these waters, and just mentioning his name to people confirmed I had made the right decision on who to go fishing with-he seemed to be well known around here for his fishing abilities. We scheduled our day to go fishing, I learned some new skills, caught some fish, and had a wonderful morning on Lake Martin. Catching catfish is a great way to start the day around here, and I had to share a few of the things I learned in hopes of helping you have as great of a fishing day as I did. Here are some important things to be aware of when fishing for catfish on Lake Martin.
Picking the Right Day and Time to go Fishing on Lake Martin
First and foremost, you have to time things appropriately. When Jerry first invited me to go fishing, he sent me a list of days and times to choose from. At first, I assumed those were just the times that worked best for his schedule, but little did I know that he had put strategic research into finding the best times for us to be on Lake Martin fishing for catfish. Jerry told me about a website that he uses called solunarforecast.com. The Solunar theory is based on the theory of John Alden Knight, and predicts the best times for hunting and fishing based on the Moon and Sun. This website doesn’t just offer the best days and times for fishing Lake Martin though-you can search by country, state, city, or zip code for places around the world. Curious if there is truth to this theory? All I know is that Jerry used this to pick our exact day and time, and spoiler alert-we caught lots of fish. So yes, I am a strong believer in this method now. The website told us one of the best times to be out on the lake fishing that week was 7a-9a on a Tuesday morning. That is exactly when we went, and we ended up with 9! Not too shabby for a couple of hours on the lake.
Picking the Right Bait
One big difference in fishing for catfish and bass on Lake Martin is the bait and/or lures that you will use. The tackle aisle at Wal-Mart is packed with every type of lure possible for bass, in every color imaginable. There is a lot to think about. Bass also are fans of live bait as well, so there are a lot of decisions to make. Fishing for catfish is a lot different, and you can just leave the tackle box full of artificial lures at home. They highly prefer live bait. Even the first accidental catfish I caught was on a live worm. Jerry confirmed their love of the all-natural bait when he broke out our platter of delicacies that morning-the box of store bought nightcrawlers, the local nightcrawlers that he dug up right in his yard, and the bright and beautiful catalpa worms that he had gotten from a friend.
We all have different foods that we are craving on different days, and why should a catfish be any different? We were well prepared for whatever they may be in the mood for that day. As it turns out though, we caught fish on all 3 types of worms, and that particular day, the catfish were interested in sampling all that we had to offer. I thought it was pretty cool to be out there fishing with bait he had found, and I think that finding your own worms and getting prepped for your day of catfishing can add to the fun as well. We also had some special appetizers for the catfish-a special concoction of wheat and water that he had been fermenting for several days.
We served this up before our main course of nightcrawlers and catalpa worms, and the catfish loved it.
Having the Appropriate Rig
When I caught the accidental catfish, I will admit, I definitely was not rigged up appropriately. I had a worm on a hook in a creek and was just trying anything to catch that million dollar bass at that time. When I went out with Jerry, I learned the actual techniques behind catching catfish. The rig that he had set up had a ¾ ounce weight on the end of the line, and about 18 inches up, was the hook. There are special hooks used for catfish, so when you hit up that tackle aisle at Wal-Mart, even though you can forgo the artificial lures, you do want to make sure to pick up weights and catfish hooks. The rig that he had set up allowed us to cast, and drop our lines to the bottom. Once the weight hits the bottom, you will feel it, and your hook will be about a foot and a half off the bottom. We used a landmark to see where we had originally dropped the fermented wheat appetizer, and drifted over that awaiting the bite of the fish. It wasn’t long before it came-again and again and again. Nine times to be exact!
I may have caught the first fish that day, but Jerry definitely caught the biggest. He was kind enough to let me pose with it, but I can’t not give credit to him for that awesome catch!
Finding Your Fishing Spot on Lake Martin
Like most local anglers, Jerry has his honey hole. I’ve already revealed too many of his insider fishing tips today, so I won’t give away his special fishing spot on the lake. I do want to get invited to go fishing again! If you do come out fishing on Lake Martin, you will find yours too. Even if you don’t have your own boat, there are many options for renting a boat on Lake Martin. However, although we were out on the boat, catfish can also be caught from the shore. Wind Creek State Park has a great fishing pier, and actually has a marina store right there on property too in case you need worms, hooks, weights, etc.
How to Fry Catfish
In conclusion, I will just say that catfish are one of the most fun fish to catch. We had such a good time out catching catfish on Lake Martin, and it was such an awesome feeling to be reeling in one after another! On top of having so much fun catching them, catfish also happen to be one of the most delicious fish in my opinion. There is no southern food I love more than some good fried catfish-and it is even better if it is fresh! Jerry makes cooking them seem so easy too. The one important key is to make sure they are dry.
Pat the filets until they are as dry as you can get them. Some people think you are supposed to dip them in milk or water, but his secret is to skip that part. He just batters them in cornmeal, deep fries them, and serves them up with french fries and homemade hush puppies. So easy, but so delicious!
If you haven’t spent time fishing for catfish on Lake Martin, I highly suggest it. Even if you are not a pro, these tips will get you on your way, and soon you will be reeling in the big one! Tight Lines!
Located near the heart of Downtown Alexander City is the largest muscle car museum in the world. Here, visitors can take a step back into the 1970’s and walk amongst some of the most iconic and rare American muscle cars ever made.
Opening in 2010, the Wellborn Musclecar Museum is a place for preserving and promoting the American muscle car culture. It focuses particularly on muscle cars from the 1969 – 1971 era and is home to some of the rarest muscle cars in the world.
The museum is a bright and electrifying atmosphere, with black and white checkered floors, neon lights, and authentic signage décor, giving visitors the feeling of walking back into time to a 1970’s car dealership. This is fitting as the building itself is actually an old Chevrolet dealership – and exactly the place you would have come to buy these cars back in the day.
Owners Tim and Pam Wellborn have worked hard over the years to build the Wellborn name. From memorabilia displays, to the muscle cars themselves, their precision and passion ensure that all the cars and culture are preserved down to the exact detail. All of the cars in the collection are in excellent running condition and are frequently fired up for a quick spin around the block.
No matter if you are a first-time guest or long-time collector, this museum is fun and fascinating for everyone to visit. It is very guest friendly, with displays near each car filled with detailed information on that automobile as well as the unique story of how the car came to be in the museum.
The museum is open to the public on Saturdays. Private tours are available Tuesday through Friday by appointment only. Small and large groups are welcome.
How It All Started
Owners Tim and Pam Wellborn have been muscle car collectors since their early teenage years. The pair collaborated together to build their museum into one of the most creative and diverse displays in the world.
The current building of the Wellborn Car Museum is a piece of history in itself. It was an old 1940’s Chevrolet dealership that was slated to be torn down by the city. When Tim learned of this, he decided to buy the building and use it originally as a storage location for cabinets with his dad. It wasn’t until later that his collection was outgrowing his garage that they came up with the idea to start the Wellborn Musclecar Museum.
However, there is one car in particular that is credited to starting the museum, long before the building was even purchased. It was the car that sparked Tim’s passion for muscle cars and is famously known as “Dad’s Car”.
While still in high school, Tim’s father owned a 1971 Dodge Hemi Charger. Tim has often said that back in the day, sons drove what their fathers drove – if he drove a Ford, you drove a Ford. If he drove a Chevrolet, you drove a Chevrolet. With this in mind, Tim thought for sure when he turned 16 his father would hand down the keys to the 1971 Dodge Hemi Charger to him. This did not come to pass however, and it wasn’t until many years later – first being given to his mother and then finally to Tim – that the car ended up in his possession. However, all those years ago his father’s car fueled up a passion inside Tim for muscle cars and he hasn’t let up since.
This car has become a legend and is referred to as “Dad’s Car.” Dad’s Car now finally rests inside the Wellborn Car Museum and is on display in the lobby as the first car guests can see.
K&K-The Most Popular Car
The muscle car era is thought to have started in or around 1964 with the help of NASCAR’s growing popularity. In order to race certain cars on the NASCAR tracks, it had to qualify as a “stock car” and be made available to the public as well. This was the first and only time in automotive history that a true NASCAR racing engine could be bought in an everyday streetcar. That is until 1971, when the government and insurance cars put an end to it abruptly. This is what makes these particular cars so wildly popular.
The “K&K” car was actually the K&K Insurance 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona that Bobby Isaac drove to win the 1970 NASCAR championship. This car broke 28 land speed records and still holds some of those to this day. It is also the only Dodge Daytona from that racing era that has never been restored and still holds its original paint. It is famed to be one of the most recognizable cars in the world.
The Paint Chip Cuda-The Most Unique Car
This 1970 Cuda is literally one of a kind and perhaps one of the wildest paint schemes you’ll ever see.
“The Paint Chip Cuda” was inspired by an old Plymouth brochure that advertised the ability to offer a variety of 25 different colors for a car. To show off all the different options, a mockup graphic design of a car stripped in every color was included in the ad. It was absolutely unheard of at the time to have so many color options, making the advertisement wildly popular and eventually catching the attention of Tim Wellborn.
Tim reached out to see if this car actually existed – and as you would guess, it did not. So, Tim went to work designing this bizarre and unique car. He purchased a 1970 Cuda and began to recreate the advertisement on one side of the car, using color wrappings to ensure that the original paint would not be damaged. The final result is a perfect replica of the original Plymouth brochure – a 1970 Cuda with the original green paint on one side and 25 brightly colored stripes on the other.
Now it is proudly displayed at the Wellborn Musclecar Museum with the motto: “The most famous Cuda that never existed until now”.
There are over 40 cars on display at a time within the museum and over 80 cars in the collection overall. Visitors are encouraged to come back again and again as the cars on display are often changing, and there is always something new to see.
Tim and Pam often say that every car in their museum has a story of its own and guests are encouraged to come and feel the passion and history for themselves.
Being home to the largest collection of muscle cars in the world, it also makes sense that the Wellborn Musclecar Museum would also host some of the most exciting reunions as well.
In 2019, the Wellborn Musclecar Museum celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Aero automobiles, including the Dodge Charger, Dodge Daytona, Ford Talladega, and Plymouth Superbird.
This year, the celebration is back! In 2021 the Wellborn Musclecar Museum will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of both the 1970 & 1971 muscle cars. They are expecting over 200 cars to participate again this year and encourage anybody with a Mopar – regardless of the year – to attend.
The 50th Anniversary celebration of 1970 and 1971 Mopars is open to the public on Saturday, October 2nd at the Wellborn Musclecar Museum. All muscle cars will be on display throughout Downtown Alexander City and participants are encouraged to dress in 1970s attire to match their cars. It will be a fun filled day for all to meet other Mopar enthusiasts, walk amongst these iconic American muscle cars, and visit the shops downtown.
No visit is complete without stopping by the gift shop! Shirts, artwork, model cars, and more are available for purchase inside the museum.
And of course, don’t forget to sign the guest book during your visit. Your name will be among guests from around the world – adding to the continued timeless, passionate, and historical culture that is the Wellborn Musclecar Museum.
Life is full of simple pleasures. Sometimes the little things just bring so much happiness. We all have those things that just instantly bring a smile to our face. For myself, one of those things is ice cream. I love it, and if my waistline would allow it, I would eat it every day. Seriously-it is that important to me-especially on a hot Alabama day. We are very lucky here that we have some really great places to eat in Alexander City and Dadeville. Among those are a few awesome places that allow cool and unique ways to enjoy my favorite tasty treat. Being the ice cream connoisseur that I am, I thought I would share some of my favorite places to enjoy ice cream in the Lake Martin area.
Carlisle’s is one of the oldest soda fountains in the state, and has been in operation since 1914. Just walking in makes you feel like you have stepped back in time and gives you a nostalgic sense of a simpler time. They have great sandwiches and wraps, and of course great drink options. I suggest trying the Cherry Lime-Ade if you go the drink route. However, today the star of the show is the ice cream. I love going there because they constantly switch out flavors and you never know what delicious flavor you may be able to try on any given day. They also have some great specialty ice cream options, like their banana split. It is big enough to share, but nobody is judging you if you don’t want to. The deliciousness of their treats, on top of the ambience of the old timey soda fountain, makes this one of my all time favorite ice cream stops.
Lake Martin Creamery is a new addition to our area this year, and I am oh so happy that they chose our area as their home. What makes them special is that they actually serve frozen custard. If you have never had frozen custard, that may sound a little weird to you. I actually discovered it years ago and have had a self-admitted addiction to it since the first time I took a bite of it. It does look like ice cream, but it is richer and smoother. If you want to learn more about what frozen custard is, you can learn more here. But trust me, you will love it. They have several options I’m sure you will love, but one of the things I really like is their Root Beer Float, made with vanilla soft serve. Oh. My. Goodness. Frozen custard is not something you can find everywhere, so I was literally doing a dance of joy when I heard what they would be serving. Trust me, you need this in your life.
Maybe you have seen an ice cream truck driving through your neighborhood. Everyone gets so happy when they hear that iconic ice cream truck music. Have you ever seen an ice cream boat though? Come to Lake Martin and you will. The Yellow Top Ice Cream Shop floats the waters of Lake Martin bringing ice cream and smiles to all of the lake’s many visitors. They have so many great packaged options, like Dippin Dots, Fudge Pops, Orange Dreamsicles, Drumsticks, and Choco Tacos-just to name a few! My personal favorite is the good ole Blue Bell ice cream. They come in different flavors in little pre packaged cups. That Blue Bell ice cream is just a classic southern treat. They also have special treats for those lake loving dogs as well. Next time you are on the water, make sure to keep a look out for the pontoon boat with a yellow top-it is definitely the perfect way to make a great day on Lake Martin even better!
Location: 1171 Tallapoosa Street Alexander City, AL 35010
Buck’s was one of the first ice cream establishments I found in the area when I moved here. Someone in my office building came in with this delicious looking masterpiece of fudge cake topped with ice cream and hot fudge. Of course I had to know where this came from, and she proudly replied “Buck’s.” I quickly learned this was a local favorite in the area. While the fudge cake is one of their most popular items, one of the most unique items is their sundaes and cones made with flavor bursts. In all of my travels, I had never encountered ice cream like this. The soft serve actually has flavors that you can add on the edges of the twist. Not only does it make it look really pretty, but it really accentuates the flavor. It gives you just the right amount of flavor-and it is not overpowering. They have alot of flavors, and you can mix and match as many as you like. I personally like the Strawberry Cheesecake combination, which you can get in a cone or a cup. Flavor burst ice cream is something that you need to put on your culinary bucket list!
Location: 2939 Dadeville Road Alexander City, AL 35010
Dairy Creem has been a staple in the Alexander City area for many years. The locals love stopping by and grabbing food at their outdoor walk up counter. They are known for their great lunch specials, but also known for their delicious ice cream. They have a variety of sundaes, shakes, and flurries, but one of the things that they are most well known for is their hand dipped cones. They take their home made ice cream and dip it into a chocolate shell. That perfect combination is also available as a frozen ice cream treat called a Creem Bar. It’s their vanilla ice cream, put on a popsicle stick, dipped in the chocolate, and frozen. Splurge and try both.
At Lake Martin, we are firm believers that lake life really is the best life. If your best life involves sometimes having dessert first, you will fit in just fine around here-and we have plenty of options available for you. We are spoiled with all of the great things to eat at Lake Martin, and we welcome you to come and enjoy some treats with us!
Alexander City is home to the Lake Martin community! And the downtown district is the heartbeat. Filled with local shops, great food, and vibrant entertainment, just one visit and you will fall in love with this small town too!
Downtown Alexander City History
As with many small towns in South Alabama, Alexander City is filled with rich history and urban legends, and the downtown district is no exception.
Following the historic battle of Horseshoe Bend and the eventual succession of territory from the Creek Indian nation, the county of Tallapoosa began to take form. In 1837, the first permanent settler by the name of James Young acquired 320 acres of land, making up large portion of what is now present-day southwest Alexander City. Almost 35 years later, this territory was named “Youngsville” and sparked the beginning of the town we now know today.
But Youngsville didn’t last long. A year after it was incorporated, a new railroad system came to town. The townsfolk were overcome with excitement, and in 1873 Youngstown was renamed to “Alexander City” in honor of the S&M Railroad president, Edward P. Alexander.
Perhaps the most famous piece of Alexander City history however is the fire of 1902. Rumor has it that a fire broke out in the Alexander City Machine Company shop at 1 o’clock that fateful afternoon. The wind had kicked up particularly rough that day and the flames spread rapidly from building to building. The fire devastated the entire town, burning every business, house, three banks, and even the post office in it’s path, practically wiping it out entirely.
The fire was so devastating, the news broke in newspapers across the nation and even made an appearance in the New York Times. It was reported that the city had not been equipped with water works at the time and the destruction itself would only be partially covered by insurance. The damage ended up totaling to over $400,000, the equivalent to millions in present day. The New York Times also reported that the telegraph office had been destroyed and all telephone communication with the town had been damaged, making it impossible to learn full details of the fire.
Urban legend has it however that the mayor of Alexander City at the time, B.L. Dean, had buried a newspaper and bottle of rum into the cornerstone of the town Courthouse years earlier while it was being constructed. These two items are rumored to have survived the 1902 fire.
Downtown Alexander City Present Day
Today, downtown Alexander City is described as a quaint and unique town square with small town vibes, filled with local shops, great dining options, and a vibrant atmosphere. The lively district hosts a variety of weekly entertainment and seasonal events with the goal of bringing the community together.
The group behind the scenes supporting the local businesses is “Main Street Alexander City”, a non profit organization dedicated to the revitalization and promotion of historic downtown Alexander City, AL. Funded solely by donations, they put their heart and soul into beautifying and rejuvenating the area, driving traffic to the downtown district, and hosting gatherings for the community. They also support the local businesses with new signage, advertisement, and even small business grants.
When asked, “Main Street” Executive Director Stacey Jeffcoat says that downtown is the heartbeat of Alexander City, and it is the people in the community that makes it so special.
If entertainment is what you are looking for, downtown Alexander City has no shortage of options for everyone in the family. From food to fun, and everything in between, these top attractions will have you falling in love with downtown Alexander City too!
Locals will tell you no trip to Alexander City is complete without taking a stroll through “The Square”. This New Orleans inspired building is one of the most unique shopping centers in the Lake Martin area. It features retail shops, a breakfast and lunch café, local artwork, event space, and even small offices – all located under one roof. Second story balconies overlook the long stretch of hallway, complete with wrought iron railings, string lights, and an old-time analog clock, giving visitors the vibes of strolling the brick sidewalks of Bourbon Street and the French Quarter.
Along with excellent shopping and dining options, visitors can catch live music and entertainment here as well. You can also rent out space for your event. The Square is a great venue for bridal showers, birthday parties, Christmas parties, etc.
Some of the best food on this side of Lake Martin is located right in the heart of downtown Alexander City. Visitors have the option of choosing dishes from all around the world with these restaurant choices. Bite into a slice of Italy at Castelluccio, order a perfect quesadilla at Carlos Mexican Grill, or even have a taste of the Caribbean at Carib Kitchen.
However, if you really want to step back in time I recommend grabbing a bite to eat at Carlisle’s. Originally opening in 1914, this historic restaurant is one of the oldest soda fountains in the state. Though locally it is known for its cherry limeades and chicken salad, guests can choose from an extensive menu of hot paninis, soups, ice cream, and more. Complete with black and white checkered floors and a gift shop in the back, this is the perfectly wholesome place to visit with the whole family.
Alongside with shopping and dining, downtown Alexander City is home to two incredibly unique experiences.
Warm up your tossing skills, because the first stop on this list is “Nub Chuckers”. Nub Chuckers is an axe throwing experience located near Strand Park. Here guests can gather together and throw axes at a wooden target while trying to hit the bullseye. It is a simple and highly entertaining! To ensure you have the best experience possible, Nub Chuckers has a staff of “Axe Coaches” that are happy to show you the ropes and have you tossing axes like a pro in no time!
But what really sets Alexander City apart is it is also home to the one-of-a-kind Wellborn Musclecar Museum. Located inside of a fully restored, vintage 1940’s car dealership in Alexander City, AL, the Wellborn Musclecar Museum is dedicated to the great American automobiles of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Starting originally with a 1971 Dodge Charger R/T Hemi, the Wellborn Musclecar Museum boasts as one of the finest Musclecar collections in the country, and for a good reason. Guests can walk amongst fully restored classics such as the Charger, the Road Runner and the SuperBee, as well as the nation’s largest high-performance Dodge collection. With black and white checkered floors and old school dealership signs, it is sure to make a memorable afternoon for the family.
The Wellborn Musclecar Museum is open on Saturdays from 10AM – 3PM and Monday through Friday by appointment only.
Located in the heart of downtown is a space referred to as “The Plaza”. Here is where visitors gather to enjoy a variety of monthly and seasonal entertainment such as live music, farmers markets, games, and much more! Events are free for everyone to attend, with the purpose of gathering together the community for a great evening of socializing and having a good time.
The Alex City Farmer’s Market- A Farm to Table Market Every Saturday from June through September, Broad Street in Alexander City is filled with farm fresh products. Over 20 vendors line the plaza selling locally sourced eggs, produce, baked goods, jellies, soap, and much more! This is as close to farm to table as you can get.
The Alex City Farmer’s Market runs from 7AM – 11AM every Saturday, June through September.
Third Thursday From April to September, every 3rd Thursday of the month is celebrated in downtown Alexander City! From 5PM – 7PM the entire district is filled with sounds of live music and excitement as visitors stroll through the Art Walk, sip on wine, and do a little late night shopping. Bingo Under The Stars Feeling lucky? Come grab a Bingo card and enjoy an evening playing everyone’s favorite game! Bingo Under The Stars is every 4th Wednesday of the month, April through September, beginning at 6PM. Players meet in the alley in front of Castelluccio’s Italian restaurant. The chance to win prizes and a cash jackpot will have you wanting to shout “BINGO” too!
Seasonal Events: Every year Alexander City hosts the community to a variety of celebrations in the downtown area. Mark your calendar for these seasonal events!
The Great Pumpkin Patch When Fall is in full swing, what better way to celebrate than finding the perfect pumpkin at the downtown Pumpkin Patch! Conveniently located at Strand Park, guests can choose from countless gourds and pumpkins of all shapes, sizes, and colors making the perfect pick for your Fall decorations or spooky jack-o-lantern. The pumpkin patch typically runs the last two weeks in October and all proceeds benefit “Main Street”, the Alexander City nonprofit.
Harvest Festival Get into the spirit of Halloween at the Harvest Festival! Located at Strand Park, it is the perfect place for friends and family to gather together and enjoy a day of games, arts & crafts, face painting, bouncy houses, and more! The Harvest Festival is typically scheduled for the last Saturday of the month.
Downtown Trick or Treat This trick-or-treating isn’t just for the kids! Dress up the family in your favorite costumes and head downtown for some Halloween fun. While your little ghouls and gobblins trick-or-treat with the merchants, you can enjoy some spooky good sales at the local stores.
Halloween Bar Crawl It’s a Monster Mash! This one is for our readers who are 21 and up. Dress up in your spookiest costume and hit the downtown scene to catch live music and good times while bar hopping around different restaurants in the downtown square. Plus, your creative costume could also when you cash prizes, which is definitely something to howl about!
Hometown Christmas Parade Kick off the holiday season with the annual Hometown Christmas Parade! Hosted by the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce, families and friends can gather together and get into the holiday spirit as festive Christmas floats take the streets. Eager spectators can line the parade route and catch dancers, marching bands and much more as we welcome in the arrival of Santa Clause for the Christmas season! The Hometown Christmas Parade is typically held the first Monday of December.
Breakfast With Santa at The Square Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa Claus is coming to town… square that is! Every December good little boys and girls can have breakfast with Santa and his helpers at The Square in downtown Alexander City.
A Downtown Christmas Experience the magic of Christmas with a day in downtown! Nothing sparks Christmas joy like taking a ride on the Polar Express Train, snapping photos with Santa Clause, and making ornaments with Mrs. Clause. Guests will also have a chance to write letters to Santa and shopping the Holiday Market for great last minute Christmas gifts.
Every February, we await our fate based on a groundhog. The tradition says that if he sees his shadow when he comes out, winter will carry on for six more weeks. However, if it is cloudy, and he doesn’t see his shadow, it means we will be getting an early spring. While I don’t want to even try to predict the weather, I can say that in the Lake Martin area we have been seeing some pretty amazing days lately. And although a critter won’t be popping out to tell us if we will have more time for summer fun, we have something even better-and much more reliable!
Alabama Power has announced that they are extending summer pool on Lake Martin! Yes-this means more time for summer fun on the lake, as the full lake levels will be around for a little over a month. During this time, the lake level will be held as high as possible, up to summer pool, depending on conditions through the six-week period. They were originally slated to start the drawdown of the lake on September 2, but with the substantial amount of rain we saw this summer, they were able to grant this extension-and give us a little more time to get out and do whatever we want-ski, wakeboard, tube, or just cruise the lake!
Photo Credit: @quattromatt
Although fall starts officially on September 22nd, we still have one more month of fun on Lake Martin, and many people would say this is actually their favorite time to be on the lake. Me-I’m one of those people. I was just out on the lake early one morning a couple of days ago, and the slightly cooler temperatures that morning were a treat. The lake was so peaceful, and I even started to see the hint of a couple of leaves changing to red. Last fall was my first on the lake, and I really enjoyed cruising the lake and seeing the changing of the leaves. It is a magical experience! Anyway, enough about my dreaming of a fall day on the lake. Let’s get back to the technical stuff so you know exactly what is happening and when.
The extension of summer pool levels is called the CFE-and that stands for conditional fall extension. That will remain in effect through October 15, 2021. So what exactly does that mean? Well, remember in the spring when we celebrated Plug Day, and the invisible plug went into the lake to start the process of raising the water levels? This is just the opposite. It’s kind of like pulling the plug to let the water out of the lake-and they will start that on October 15th. Like I did in the spring, I have to spoil the fantasy for you again, because there is not an actual plug. All of the raising and lowering is actually happening at a facility in Birmingham. Sorry-just didn’t want you explaining it like that at a party and getting crazy looks! However, it’s basically the same concept as removing the plug from your bath tub -at least from what you will visually see-because the water level will start to go down. It doesn’t happen all at once though. Once the water level starts to be lowered, it is a very gradual decrease in the water levels. You can keep up with the current water level anytime here. 491 is the full summer pool level, and by December 31st, it will be at 481. It will be left at that until February 17, 2022. At that point, Alabama Power will slowly start raising the water levels back toward full summer pool levels again.
Martin Dam-Photo Credit: Dylan Stewart
One thing that is important to note is that this year the lake will be lowered an additional 3 feet in order to comply with Alabama Power’s license with FERC to operate Martin Dam and Lake Martin. FERC stands for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The license was renewed back in 2015-and the updated license says that once every six years Alabama Power is required to lower the winter operating water level 3 feet below the normal level of 484 feet. This extra 3 feet of drawdown allows more access to the lakebed, and gives residents a chance to complete construction projects and maintenance on shoreline structures. If you are a resident who will be doing maintenance during the drawdown, make sure you start getting the necessary permits now to give yourself enough time to line up contractors. You can start the permitting process here: apcshorelines.com/permits.
So even though we have another month of summer pool, you may be wondering if you can still enjoy the lake even during winter pool levels. The answer is a whole-hearted YES! It takes time for the lake levels to go all the way down to winter pool levels. However, even once they do, many still enjoy our lake. You will probably just see less bikinis and more anglers though. I will let you in on a little secret-the bass in these parts LOVE winter. Bass fishing is huge on Lake Martin in the winter, both recreationally and competitive. You can always see the upcoming Lake Martin fishing tournaments on our event calendar. I encourage you to go out and still enjoy the lake year-round. If you are out on the lake after the water level starts lowering though, please just be extra careful. As water levels lower, there are more hazards that are closer to the surface. That shoal that was 10 feet deeper during the summer is now right at a level where it could damage your boat. Anytime you are out on the lake-winter or summer- you should always pay attention to the buoys that are placed by Lake Martin Resource Association. They are there to show you where the hazards are located, and are there to keep you safe. You can read more about boating safety tips on Lake Martin here.
Photo Credit: Christopher Tate
As for me, I would like to send a big thank you to Alabama Power for all they do for our area, and for granting us the fall extension! I for one will be soaking in the sun out on the lake for the next month, and hope to see you on the water!
August was still producing stripers on live bait. Typical August trips- 4 out 5 trips produced good, then we would have a tough day 1 out of 5 days. September will be a lot like August fishing. My advice for September would be fish the lower end of the lake, fish early, and be prepared for tough fishing after 9 am. Even though you are going to see some striper marks up high on your electronics, the deeper marks more than likely are going to be your catchable fish. Stripers will still be feeding on smaller bait fish in September, so keep that in mind when your gearing up for a day of fun here. Bring lots of patience and plenty of bottled water because in September’s heat here in Alabama, it takes both to have a successful day of fishing.
Until next time stay safe , try to stay hydrated and catch a big fish for me!
There is no shortage of exceptional and creative dining options at Lake Martin, Alabama! Whether you are looking to hit the water or pull up a chair to endless waterfront views, we’ve got you covered with our guide to lakefront dining options.
Located in the Kowaliga Bay near the Highway 63 Bridge, Kowaliga Restaurant is an iconic staple to Lake Martin. Known for their delicious food and sweeping waterfront views, the restaurant also pays homage to the great Country music legend, Hank Williams. Legend has it that Hank Williams wrote his famous song about the heartbroken Indian, Kaw-liga, while staying at a cabin on Lake Martin. At the same time a new restaurant was breaking ground nearby … and the rest is history.
Upon entering the restaurant, guests are greeted by a massive wooden Indian as they make their way through the rooms of Lake Martin décor and Hank Williams memorabilia. But Kowaliga’s real claim to fame is their menu items, such as the catfish tacos and onion rings. They also offer seafood, salads, and “THE Cheeseburger.” From personal experience, I recommend trying out their appetizer of local Alabama favorites: Conecuh sausage, Wickles Pickles, and pimento cheese.
Kowaliga Restaurant is also known for its sandy white beach on the shoreline as well as its massive wrap-around porch, offering the perfect place for you to feed the fish and turtles or catch a stunning Lake Martin sunset.
Kowaliga is a year-round destination on Lake Martin. Read more about their story, menu, and hours here.
The Landing at Parker Creek is one of Lake Martin’s hottest waterfront hangouts! Owned by Alabama renowned sportscaster and his wife, Herb and Betty Winches, this unique destination is built entirely from shipping containers. Complete with a full kitchen and bar, The Landing offers you plenty of seating options with covered tables throughout their lawn and shaded dock canopy. No matter where you choose, every table has a waterfront view! It also offers a white sandy beach area for swimming and cooling off from the hot summer sun.
Feeling hungry? Along with sweeping waterfront views and a lively atmosphere, The Landing offers up a one-of-a-kind menu designed by Hawaiian Chef, Torrey Hall. From seafood to steak and everything in between, The Landing prides itself on a casual, yet unforgettable, open-air dining experience.
For guests who are 21 and up, there are several specialty drink items on their menu such as “Lake Martin Lemonades”. However, The Landing is locally famous for their classic Bushwhacker in a souvenir cup.
The Landing is a seasonal destination on Lake Martin and open Thursday through Sunday. Get information on menu options, hours, and entertainment here.
Chuck’s is your go-to spot for gourmet pizza on Lake Martin! Their creative menu options and vibrant atmosphere makes this a top dining destination on the water.
With locally inspired pizzas such as the pepperoni and triple cheese “Goat Island” and “Chimney Rock” supreme, Chuck’s has a pizza flavor for everyone in your crew! Their menu also serves up delicious salads, sandwiches, and even rounds of chicken wings. Our recommendation is to take a walk on the wild side and order up a serving of the “Raspberry Chipotle Wings”. You’re welcome.
You can also catch special guests for live music entertainment. This local hot spot is open seasonally. For full menu descriptions and weekly updates visit the Chuck’s Marina Facebook Page.
Feeling a little nutty? This calls for a trip to Peanut Point – home of the best boiled peanuts on Lake Martin! Since 1988, Peanut Point has been serving up bags of classic boiled peanuts as well as spicing things up with a Cajun-style version of this snack. And of course, no trip to Peanut Point is complete without sporting one of their souvenir hats, T-shirts, or koozies. By boat you can find this local favorite right around the corner from Wind Creek State Park and it can easily be spotted by the pop-up tents on the shoreline. They are open seasonally, and you can stay up to date on the Peanut Point Facebook Page
Known as the “brunch spot with a view”, The Social is quickly becoming one of Lake Martin’s hottest new restaurant additions with waterfront views.
Located at the Anchor Bay Marina, The Social is an indoor and outdoor dining experience, with plenty of seating on their spacious front deck overlooking Anchor Bay. Their extensive menu covers everything from chicken and waffles to cheeseburgers and oysters – making it a great option to please everyone in your party. Our recommendation is to try out the spicy crawfish platter – available on Saturdays only. This is one of the only places on Lake Martin that serves up these Southern style mudbugs, automatically making it a must-stop destination.
Live music gears up on the deck every evening as well as during Sunday brunch hours, featuring local artists from around the area. And while you are there, don’t forget to top off your visit by snapping a picture on their iconic oversized Adirondack chair!
Whether you are coming by car or from a day on the water, The Social has plenty of parking spaces and boat slips for easy access to dine in.
For menu options, hours, daily specials, and weekly musical guests visit website here.
Nibblers is Lake Martin’s very own floating food truck! Located near the Ridge Marina, “Nibblers” is a pontoon boat that travels around the lake offering on-the-water food service… literally! Hungry guests can either swim up or pull up in their watercrafts to order meals via the Nibblers “Float-thru” window.
The Nibblers menu has all your favorite items such as hand-made burgers, wraps, hot dogs and even chicken tacos. If you’re feeling adventurous, we suggest trying menu items that include their signature Cajun Boom-Boom sauce, such as the “Boom! Boom! Burger” or the “Harpoon Quesadilla”, complete with hickory smoked chicken, grilled onions, and jalapenos.
And for those hot summer days, lake goers can cool off with one of their delicious milkshakes or famous shaved ice treats. With 13 different flavors and endless combinations, Nibblers is sure to hit the spot!
As their famous saying goes… “just one bite and you’re hooked”!
You can catch Nibblers floating the waters on most weekends during the Summer near the Ridge Marina, Chimney Rock, and the StillWaters area. Check their schedule and daily location on the Nibblers Facebook page.
If you’re searching for the perfect burger, look no further than Niffer’s Place on Lake Martin! Located between the Blue Creek Marina and Lakeside Marina, Niffer’s Place has one of the most extensive burger menus on the lake. Serving up over 20 different options and a plethora of unique toppings such as pimento cheese, fried eggs, and white cheese dip, guests can get as creative as they’d like with their burgers!
However, can we even call this the burger destination on the lake if they didn’t have a cocktail to live up to the hype? Let me introduce you to “The Kitchen Sink” – a Bloody Mary that is advertised to be garnished with a meal. Mixed with high end vodka, this drink includes fried okra, Wickles Pickles, olives, thick cut bacon, a fried chicken tender, a 4oz cheeseburger slider, fried pickles, mini corndogs, and to top it all off… flaming nuggets. WOW!
On top of great food and surrounding waterfront views, Niffer’s Place also offers up a great atmosphere with endless outdoor games, making it a perfect place to bring family and meet up with friends!
Niffer’s is open daily throughout the year. Check out their full burger menu and hours here.
No matter where you are on Lake Martin, there is no mistaking that cheerful music piping through the air when the Yellow Top Ice Cream Shop is close by! This floating dessert shop is actually a pontoon boat that can be easily spotted by its bright yellow roof and the smiling faces of owners Richard “GrandPop” Owens and his wife, “Grandma” Julie.
The Yellow Top Ice Cream Shop was dreamt up by the Owens’ grandson, who not only inspired the idea of selling ice cream from their family boat but also coined to phrase “yellow top ice cream shop” during the remodel of the pontoon to get it ice cream ready.
The Yellow Top Ice Cream Shop can usually be spotted serving up frozen treats near popular Lake Martin hangouts such as Wind Creek State Park, Pineywoods Island, Peanut Point, and Woods Island. It also makes frequent stops at Children’s Harbor, donating ice cream to various summer camps for children.
From chocolate Drumsticks to Bomb Pops, and everything in between, the Yellow Top Ice Cream Shop is serving up endless smiles – one ice cream and popsicle at a time.
This is not just any frozen drink destination! Named “Bluffs” to honor early Lake Martin history, this unique stop is actually a floating daiquiri bar located out on the pier at Harbor Point Marina. Offering indoor and outdoor patio seating options, guests can sip on their favorite daiquiri flavor while enjoying live music and surrounding waterfront views.
Guests can arrive by car, golf cart, or dock their boat at any one of the 10 nearby boat slips. The Bluffs is known to serve up a variety of cocktails while hosting live music and good times!
While boating in the Bay Pines area, be sure to swing by the Lakeside Marina to fuel up on gas and food! Along with boat rentals and a convenience store, Lakeside Marina at Bay Pines has also serves up a variety of food options with their recently expanded kitchen. Visitors can enjoy all the classic favorites, such as hot dogs and hamburgers, while kicking back and relaxing on the water at an outdoor patio table.
Perhaps what Lakeside Marina is most known for however is their “Loaded Pizza”. Guests can not only choose from every pizza topping imaginable, but they are unlimited too. That’s right! You can load as many flavors onto your pizza as you can fit … at no extra cost.
To add to your dining experience, Lakeside Marina also has a brand-new tiki-themed Daiquiri Bar. Located outside, guests can take in the waterfront views while enjoying all the classic frozen drink options, including everyone’s favorite-Bushwackers. Locals suggest ordering a “topper” of peanut butter whiskey for your Bushwacker for a little extra umph. To add to the good times, guests can also catch live music at Lakeside Marina, featuring local artists from around the state.
Lakeside Marina is a year-round destination, with the Daiquiri Bar open Thursday through Sunday and the marina open daily. Guests can arrive by car or boat. For directions and a calendar of events, check out their website here.
Craving Froyo? Smith Marina has you covered! Located not far from the Willow Point Golf & Country Club, Smith Marina is known for their frozen yogurt shop, “Shipwreck Sams”. Here guests can dream up their perfect summer treat, with toppings ranging from sprinkles and chocolate syrup to gummy worms, marshmallows, and event bites of cookie dough. With indoor and outdoor patio seating options, it’s the perfect place to sit along the Lake Martin waters to kick back and unwind!
Shipwreck Sams is a seasonal destination and open on Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays. Check out their website here.
It’s easy to work up an appetite while enjoying the great outdoors at Wind Creek State Park. Luckily, Creem at the Creek has just the fuel you need to keep you going! Located at the state park itself, this outdoor restaurant is serving up all your favorites such as hamburgers, sandwiches, fried pickles, pizza, and much more. Guests also have the option to dine on the boardwalk at one of their brightly colored picnic tables, overlooking the beautiful shores of Lake Martin.
If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, our suggestion is to top off your visit with one of their irresistible desserts. Whether you are looking for a banana split, root beer float, or classic milkshake to dip your fries in – Creem at the Creek will not disappoint!
Located at Wind Creek State Park, guests can catch this Lake Martin favorite during the summer months and can access Creem at the Creek by car or boat. State Park day-use entry fees may apply. Read more about them on the Creem at the Creek Facebook Page
If you are out on the water, there are two more special places you can visit. Although the restaurants themselves are not located lakeside, they are so great we couldn’t leave them off of this list. Technically, you can reach both of these great places 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. Here’s a little about these two great restaurants.
Catherine’s Café is located within Catherine’s Market, serving up a one-of-a-kind lunch menu in addition to fresh salads and baked goods. Catherine’s specializes in fresh, locally sourced products and prides themselves on their service. From sandwiches, salads, and hot-pressed paninis, Catherine’s is the perfect lunch spot to dine and unwind. Be sure to stroll through the market while you’re there—you won’t want to miss it!
Situated along a hilltop at Russell Crossroads, SpringHouse is an elegant and rustic dining experience, offering guests scenic views of The Stables, pastures, wooded forest, and Lake Martin waters in the distance. Their highly talked about menu is inspired by locally and regionally sourced flavors to create a modern version of southern classic cuisine, with options that change daily.
However, my personal recommendation is to check out the WellHouse. This rounded stone extension of SpringHouse is a more exclusive seating option, where guests enter through the underground wine cellar and gather around a large, farmhouse-style table. The rough-hewn doors of the WellHouse open up to a vibrant garden, complete with handmade rock bridges and views of rolling hills.
Like Catherine’s, SpringHouse also is located in Russell Crossroads and can be accessed by car or boat, with a short golf cart ride up to the actual location. SpringHouse is open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday, and Sunday for Brunch. Reservations are highly recommended and are suggested to be placed two weeks in advance. Read more about SpringHouse dining options, reservations, private events, and more here.
Please note that some lakeside dining options operate seasonally, or have different hours at different times of the year. We recommend that you check the restaurant’s current operating hours before making plans to visit.
Congrats to Barry Cameron from Cary, NC, who caught his personal best-30+ pounds while out with Captain David Hare on Lake Martin! Way to go, Barry!
We are just scratching the surface for summer type fishing due to cooler than normal water temps so far. Normally we would be doing a lot of trolling and some live baiting, but with cooler than normal July weather, we actually did vice versa- and most days it paid off.
Now for August if my clients think we’ve been going early morning in July, then August is going to be a shocker. I’m a real early bird in August hoping to be on my favorite spots usually about 1 hour before daylight so I can get those early early bites before the temperature starts warming us all up- including the stripers. For me, I like trolling in August and trying to stay in some of the deeper parts of the lake, searching for huge schools of bait fish. Then once I’ve got what I consider lots of bait fish, I continuously troll those areas with my Scotty down riggers that’s rigged with 10 lb. weights and numerous types of trolling lures- including some soft plastics. I don’t worry if I don’t catch every fish I see on my Hummingbird. As long as I know I’m marking stripers, I know it’s just a matter of time before I figure out the exact speed, the exact depth, and the exact lure they are the most interested in crushing. Then the fight is on! If you fish on your own or if you fish with us, if you can have enough patience to get zeroed in on them, you’ll love the results. And who knows you may just boat yourself personal best this year in August here on Lake Martin. Until next time- tight lines!
Brett Pritchard is the fishing coach at Central Alabama Community College. He fishes competitively, and has been fishing Lake Martin his whole life. He gives you a few of his insider tips, including some of his favorite lures to use on Lake Martin, in this episode of Lakin’ Like a Local!
Congrats to our Crank 4 Bank Winners:
Congrats to all our Crank 4 Bank winners! The tagged fishing event, which started in April and ended in July, awarded the winners last month. We had 15 winners in total! Refus McNeill is our grand prize winner! He won a Skeeter boat from Ashley’s Boat & RV worth $50,000 !!! William Miller caught 3 tagged fish and took home $4,500, Chris Smith caught 2 tagged fish and took home $3,000, Tyler Winchester caught 2 tagged bass and took home $3,000. Chris Chandler, Courtenay Potts, Brent Reeves, Ian Baas, Stihl Smith, Glenn Morgan, and Phillipee Brown all caught one tagged bass and each brought home $1,500. Also Ryan Miller won 1st place for our crank4bank Virtual tournament and Brent Blalock got 2nd and Chris Chandler came in 3rd place! Big Bass was won by Brody Milstead! A special thank you to OGS Tournaments for organizing this fun event on Lake Martin!
There are so many great places to stay in Alexander City and Dadeville. From vacation rentals, hotels, cabins, and camping-there is definitely an option that is perfect for you based upon who you are travelling with, and the type of vacation you want to have.
Today though, I want to talk to you about what it is like to stay in a Bed and Breakfast in the Lake Martin area. If you have never stayed in a Bed and Breakfast, you are totally missing out. It is such a unique, personalized experience. And one big bonus, is you will always end up with a really yummy, home cooked breakfast served up each morning. If you are looking to do something nice for your sweetie, a surprise getaway to a cool Bed and Breakfast is sure to earn you some bonus points. Bed and Breakfasts aren’t just for romantic getaways though. I’ve also found it can also be a lot of fun to gather up a few of your girls, rent a few rooms, and take over the house for a night. Add in some wine, snacks, and comfy pjs, and you have the best girls night in ever! You can also grab a few of your family members, and have a little reunion. If you are heading to an Auburn game, both Mistletoe Bough Bed and Breakfast and Paradise Bed and Breakfast on Lake Martin aren’t too far of a drive, and they offer an added bonus to an already fun football weekend. We have two really awesome Bed and Breakfasts in our area. Both are equally amazing, but totally different. So let me fill you in on the details of these two beautiful homes……..
The fun add on I suggest you ask about: The Tailgating Kit that includes folding chairs, beer iced down in a cooler, and lunch for 2. Perfect for tailgating at a nearby Auburn game.
The signature breakfast item: Sausage gravy and biscuits
This Bed and Breakfast is in Alexander City, not too far from the historic downtown. You will be in awe as soon as you drive up and see the historic mansion. Ruben Herzfeld and his wife, Julia, began construction on the home in 1890, but it was not complete until 1895. His goal was to have the most grand home in Alexander City. You will see just how majestic it is upon your arrival. If you have an appreciation for beautiful, historic homes, and want to be in town close to restaurants, shops, and events, this is the one for you. Here’s a little sneak peek of the rooms that await you at Mistletoe Bough Bed and Breakfast:
The Master’s Suite
The Master’s Suite is the spacious original master suite of the house with a private attached bath. This room has a king bed set amongst the bay windows, a beautiful fireplace and mantle, and a lovely view of the gardens. The room includes high speed internet, 4K smart television, and cable.
This is a large room with a king size bed, sitting area, and fireplace and mantle. The room includes a private attached bath, high speed internet, 4K smart television, and cable.
The Sunshine Suite is a large room with a sitting area, fireplace and mantle. It features a king size bed, private attached bath, high speed internet, 4K television, and cable.
Nanny’s Room is a lovely room with a private balcony overlooking the grounds. It features a queen size bed, high speed internet, 4K smart television, and cable.
Sweet Pea Room
This is a lovely room with two full size beds and a bay window. The bathroom is private, but not attached. It features a claw foot tub and a shower. This room includes high speed internet, 4K smart television, and cable. This room is pet friendly, but you must call to discuss before booking.
The fun add on I suggest you ask about: The evening boat cruise that includes wine and cheese!
Their signature breakfast item: Breakfast cup with smoked pork butt
Paradise Bed and Breakfast is located right on Lake Martin. If you are looking for a peaceful lake experience, this is the one for you. There are rooms with private balconies that overlook the lake, and the house is located in a cove, so it it’s a very quiet and serene setting. They have a paddle boat, kayaks, floats, and fishing equipment that are there for you to use at no additional charge. They also have a private dock, so you can even bring your own boat. Breakfast is served on the deck or on the screened in porch-both overlooking beautiful Lake Martin. Let’s take a look at some of the cool room options they have at Paradise Bed and Breakfast on Lake Martin.
The Lake Room
If you’re looking for romance, then the “Lake Room” is for you. The canopy king size bed is perfect for a romantic get-away. Add in the private balcony, facing the lake and it doesn’t get any better than this. Enjoy the cute, “lakey” vintage and antique decorations for a fun ambience. Beautiful private bath, (with a bathtub/shower) in shades of blue, offers a relaxing visit. Don’t forget to enjoy the locally made bath products to complete your experience.
The History Room
If you like to step back into time and enjoy the nostalgia of years past, the “History Room” is meant for you. The owners have decorated with love letters written between their parents during their courting days, their Dads’ military memorabilia, photos of their grandparents as children, and items from their childhood. The room is a testament to times past. The king size four poster bed provides for a very relaxing experience. There is a private balcony, facing the lake, for your relaxation and enjoyment. The beautiful private bath continues the “History” theme, with vintage cologne and talc containers in the décor that add to the nostalgia. You can relax in the bathtub, using the locally made bath products to enhance your experience.
The Garden Room
Spring is in the air all year in the “Garden Room”. You’ll feel like you’re sleeping outside in a garden under the flowery, fluffy comforter on the double bed and looking at the antique garden décor. Beautiful antique prints showing birds, butterflies and “Yard scenes” enhance the décor. There’s a beautiful antique cradle, complete with the owner’s baby toys and Barbies. The private bath has a shower, but not a bathtub. Make sure to use the locally made bath products to enhance your visit.
For guests who need an additional bedroom for family members or friends, “The Treehouse” is just the ticket. It’s a cute room tucked away by itself upstairs. The décor is whimsical and brightly colored, which will put a smile on your face. Check out the antique Sunbonnet Babies quilts, on the full size bed, which were favorites of the owner’s mother. “The Treehouse” does not have a private bath, so guests would have to share. However, it does have a mini refrigerator, TV and coffee/tea service.
Of these two options, we promise, you won’t go wrong either way. The biggest difference is if you are looking for the historic architecture of Mistletoe Bough Bed and Breakfast or the lake vibe of Paradise Bed and Breakfast on Lake Martin. You can also be wild and crazy and book a weekend at each. We know once you visit, you will be back again anyway. There’s just something about this place that makes you want to keep coming back again and again!
While visiting Lake Martin, Alabama, you may be amazed by the amount of scenic destinations, live entertainment, and incredible dining options the lake has to offer. To help ensure you have an unforgettable experience, here is our list of 10 things you need to see and do on the lake to make the memories of a lifetime!
Poor Ole’ Kaw-liga… Hank Williams fans, this one is for you!
Located in the Kowaliga Bay near the Highway 63 Bridge, the Kowaliga Restaurant is an iconic staple to Lake Martin. Known for the delicious food and sweeping waterfront views, the restaurant also pays homage to the great Country music legend, Hank Williams.
It is said that Hank Williams wrote his famous song about the heartbroken Indian, Kaw-liga, while staying at a cabin on Lake Martin. At this same time, a new restaurant was breaking ground nearby… and the rest is history. Originally opened in 1953, Kowaliga pays tribute to Hank’s song with a massive wooden Indian that greets guests as they enter the lobby. Though the Indian has been replaced several times throughout the years, it is an iconic face of Lake Martin and makes the perfect photo buddy.
The claim to fame items are the catfish tacos and onion rings. They also offer seafood, salads, and “THE Cheeseburger”. From personal experience, I recommend trying out their appetizer of local Alabama favorites: Conecuh sausage, Wickles Pickles, and pimento cheese.
Kowaliga Restaurant is also known for its sandy white beach on the shoreline as well as its massive wrap-around porch, offering the perfect place for guests to feed the fish and turtles or catch a stunning Lake Martin sunset. Read more about their story, menu, and hours here.
The Landing at Parker Creek is one of Lake Martin’s hottest waterfront hangouts! Alabama renowned sportscaster and his wife, Herb and Betty Winches, are the proud owners of this unique destination. Built entirely from shipping containers, The Landing boasts a full kitchen and bar along with covered tables throughout their lawn and shaded dock canopy. No matter where you sit, every table has a waterfront view! It also offers a white sandy beach area for swimming and cooling off from the hot summer sun.
Along with a lively atmosphere, The Landing offers up a one-of-a-kind menu designed by Hawaiian Chef, Torrey Hall. From seafood to steak and everything in between, The Landing prides itself on a casual, yet unforgettable, open-air dining experience.
For our guests who are 21 and up, there are several specialty drink items on their menu such as “Lake Martin Lemonades”. However, The Landing is locally famous for their classic Bushwhacker in a souvenir cup.
“All points lead to The Landing at Parker Creek” …. and trust me, you won’t want to miss out on this local hangout hotspot!
For menu options, hours, and entertainment check out their website here.
One of the most popular destinations on Lake Martin is Goat Island! Dating as far back as the 1960s, the original start to the island is unknown and still remains a mystery to this day. However, over the decades generations of families have now visited the island, making it one of the oldest traditions and hottest attractions on the lake.
Located near the Lake Martin dam, it is easily spotted by the bright, colorful welcome signs and of course – goats! Though the island itself is only accessible by boat, visitors can beach right on the sandy banks and hop off, where they are happily greeted by Lake Martin’s famous furry friends.
The goats live on the island beginning mid-Spring to late Fall, depending on the weather. Locals will tell you that during your trip, be sure to pack a bag of the goats’ favorite snack – Cheetos! They also love to eat bread and chips, so coming prepared will make you their newest best friend.
The goats are well socialized and photogenic, making a trip to the island a perfect photo op to remember your incredible day on Lake Martin!
Chuckwalla’s Marina and Pizzaria is your go-to spot for gourmet pizza on Lake Martin! Their creative menu options and vibrant atmosphere makes this a top dining destination on the water. Grab the kids a “Goat Island” pizza with triple layers of pepperoni and cheese… or maybe a “Chimney Rock” supreme pizza is more your style? Chuck’s has a flavor for everyone in your crew! Their menu also serves up delicious salads, sandwiches, and even rounds of chicken wings. Our recommendation is to take a walk on the wild side and order up a serving of the “Raspberry Chipotle Chuckwalla’s Wings”. You’re welcome.
You can also catch special guests for live music entertainment. For full menu descriptions and weekly updates visit the Chuck’s Marina Facebook Page.
During your day on the lake, be sure to make a pit stop at Peanut Point – home of the best boiled peanuts on Lake Martin since 1988! You can get your choice of classic boiled peanuts or spice things up with an order of their Cajun-style snack. And of course, no trip to Peanut Point is complete without sporting one of their souvenir hats, T-shirts, or koozies. By boat you can find this local favorite right around the corner from Wind Creek State Park and it can easily be spotted by the popup tents on the shoreline.
Come for the food, stay for the live music! If you are looking for great food and entertainment, The Social is quickly becoming one of Lake Martin’s hottest new restaurant additions. Open for breakfast, brunch, and dinner, guests can look forward to great live music while dining with waterfront views.
Located at the Anchor Bay Marina, The Social offers an indoor and outdoor dining experience with a menu that covers everything from chicken and waffles to cheeseburgers and oysters – making it a great option to please everyone in your party. For guests who are 21 or up, the staff recommends trying one of their Strawberry Bushwhackers or a freshly made “Famous K Bloody Mary”, where the mix is made by one of their very own bartenders.
Live music gears up every evening as well as during Sunday brunch hours, featuring local artists from around the area.
And while you are there, don’t forget to top off your visit by snapping a picture on their iconic oversized Adirondack chair!
Whether you are coming by car or from a day on the water, The Social has plenty of parking spaces and boat slips for easy access to dine in.
For menu options, hours, and weekly musical guests visit their website here.
If you are seeking to add a thrill to your day trip on Lake Martin, Chimney Rock should be at the top of your bucket list!
This iconic landmark, located near the Ridge Marina, is a massive rock formation that can be seen protruding from the top of Chimney Rock Island. It gives the appearance of a “chimney” growing from the stony cliffs, hence the name.
However, the main attraction and famous hangout spot that many now refer to as Chimney Rock is actually named “Acapulco Rock Island”. It is well known in the area for cliff jumping and can easily be spotted by the years of iconic spray paint graffiti.
You will usually find a large gathering of boats circling Chimney Rock, with people watching and cheering on daredevils as they leap off of the three main cliffs: Chicken Rock, Acapulco Rock, and Lost Boys. These three cliffs all range in height, from 20 feet high to a whopping 60 feet above the water. They can only be accessed by a quick swim from your boat to a ledge near Chicken Rock, where jumpers can begin their ascent. If you are feeling brave enough to take the leap, locals will tell you that the jump is higher at the top than it appears from your boat – a helpful tip if you decide to join in on the action!
Ahoy, maties! Grab your crew and set sail to explore one of Lake Martin’s very own Pirate Island. Decorated with skeletons and treasure chests, it’s a magical and unexpected destination to add to your day trip list. The island is “guarded” by Jolly Rogers and his skeleton crew, who stand watch over the island props of hand-painted signs and Mardi Gras beads.
Originally created over a decade ago by Rick Stark as a personal family tradition, it has since grown to be one of the most unique destinations and photo ops on Lake Martin.
You can find Pirate Island on the Tallapoosa side of the lake, near Madwin Creek. GPS coordinates located the small island at 32.83305 and -85.85845.
Wind Creek State Park is one of the largest state-operated campgrounds in the nation! Stretching over 1,444 scenic acres and home to over 580 campsites, Wind Creek State Park offers endless possibilities of outdoor activities and family fun.
Amenities such as archery targets, a putt-putt course, fishing docks, and their scenic hiking trails are open for both day guests and campers alike. You can also make reservations to breeze through the trees on the zipline canopy tour or even take a relaxing horseback ride along the Lake Martin shoreline.
To add to your Wind Creek experience, our day trip suggestion is to visit the historic silo located near Hospice Point. The silo itself was said to be owned by a local farmer before the dam was built to create Lake Martin. Since then, it has been restored as a unique sightseeing destination for campers and park guests to enjoy.
Visitors that seek the thrill of the climb to the top of the silo are rewarded with breathtaking views of the lake. Be sure to add it to your itinerary for stunning photos and fun memories!
See everything Wind Creek State Park has to offer! Visit their website here.
The sky has never looked so big as when you hit the open water on Lake Martin. As the sun sets and the brilliant colors stretch across the waves, visitors and locals alike soak up the breathtaking views with a different display every evening. Whether you are watching from the decks of a restaurant, your back porch, or the padded seats of a pontoon, a sunset on the big water is the perfect way to end your unforgettable day on Lake Martin!
The Lake Martin area is well known for its wonderful outdoor activities-probably most notably, the lake itself. It is the only “Treasured Alabama Lake” and has almost 900 miles of shoreline and more than 40,000 acres of awesome views. The lake and its parks, marinas, islands, and points of interest are something everyone has to experience in their life.
Outside of the amazing lake, we also have the equally amazing Tallapoosa River, which is well known for its kayaking. The moving water of the Tallapoosa will quickly whisk you away to a fun few hours enjoying the scenery and the adventure that makes up the river experience. Many people also fish the Tallapoosa River for the coveted Tallapoosa Red Eye Bass.
And outside of our water activities, we have hundreds of miles of wonderful trails in our area. Whether hiking is your thing, or biking, or horseback riding-we have a trail for you. Our trails are all very unique and unlike any you have seen elsewhere.
All of these things sound great, right? They are. 100% totally awesome greatness. However, I’m going to let you in on something that I probably shouldn’t. Sometimes…….every once in awhile….. that gray day comes and rains on your parade-or atleast your boat day/fishing day/hiking day. Alabama weather can be crazy, so if you see a storm coming, try to get off the water and get to shelter. Safety comes first. You don’t need to sit on the lake and look tough while there are Bassnadoes going on around you. Yes, it’s a bummer when that happens, but you can still enjoy yourself here even with a little rain.
I know your first instinct is probably to run down to the Dollar General and load up on board games, coloring books, and whatever else you can find to pass the time. And yes, that’s not a bad idea at all. I personally like taking board games with me on vacation anyway to have a little fun with friends and family as we relax after an adventurous day. However, there are still some ways to experience some of the sights and activities in the Lake Martin area- and stay dry. Here’s my 3 suggestions for things to do in the Lake Martin area on a rainy day.
They are technically only open to the public on Saturdays from 10am-3pm. But-I am going to give you an insider secret…… you can call the museum’s curator for a private tour that can take place during other days and times throughout the week. In my personal opinion, that is the way to do it anyway-rain or no rain. His name is Alton, and I will give you his personal cell phone to call and make an appointment-256-496-2155. Don’t worry-I asked him first-he is expecting your call! On a personal tour, he walks through the entire museum with you and tells you the background stories behind each of their beautiful cars-and guitars. Yes, each of the cars has a guitar that has been painted to match. I’ll let him tell you more about that. He can also show you the Musclecar Art Gallery. There’s really a lot to see. From the outside, you will not be able to tell quite what awaits you inside. But when you walk through the doors, and walk into the main area, I’m sure your jaw will hit the ground just like mine did. The retro colors welcome you with the décor of a car dealership from back in the day. That’s what this building actually was at one time, and they have done a great job of bringing the history of the building into the museum. People from all over the world come to see the collection there, and each time you go, it is like going to a different museum. There are so many cars in their collection, that they frequently switch them out. Whether you are a fan of Musclecars or not, this experience will amaze those of all ages as you see and hear the treasured stories of each of the cars.
Now let me start with saying that they do have a very beautiful walking trail that goes through the park that is just a little under 3 miles. Yes, it is beautiful and yes, you need to do it. But, you are likely reading this because you’ve run in the house cold and soaking wet from the rain and you are trying to find something to keep the family busy today. So even though you won’t be hiking the trail today, you can still definitely enjoy the park. Their visitor center has been open since 1964, but they have a newly renovated museum and it is a great place for the history buffs. They have some really neat artifacts to check out, and the kiddos can earn Jr. Ranger Badges too. If you have a National Parks Passport, make sure to bring that along also so you can get your stamp showing you visited the park. And, there is even a way to still enjoy the park from the dryness of your car. They have a loop road that you can drive along, and set up an audio tour to play from your phone. The tour will tell you the stories of the exact areas you are in at that exact moment. It’s pretty cool-and that itself is definitely worth doing at Horseshoe Bend National Military Park.
Who doesn’t like a day at the movies to check out the latest cinematic masterpieces? This is a wonderful indoor activity and Playhouse Cinemas is a great movie theater in Alexander City. They are equipped with the latest technology, including Christie Projectors, Dolby Digital Surround Sound, and Real 3D. They bring in the latest and greatest movies, but let’s also address the other thing that is probably on your mind. At least it is what is on my mind when someone says it’s movie day! For me, I can’t go to the movies without eating popcorn. Slathered in butter. Don’t judge-it’s my guilty pleasure! Especially on vacation and especially on a movie day. You know vacation calories don’t count anyway, right? And yes, in case you are wondering, Playhouse Cinemas has the best! The movie theater is locally owned and has been in business over 30 years serving our residents and visitors. This is a great way to have fun on a rainy day-or any day.
While we greatly cherish our time outdoors around here, there are plenty of indoor things to do in the Lake Martin area also. We know you have anxiously awaited your vacation at the lake, and we will do our absolute best to make sure you enjoy it. Rain or shine, if you are here and need help booking activities, need reservations for dinner in the Lake Martin area, or have any questions- we are happy to help. We want to make sure you have the best vacation at Lake Martin. You are welcome to call me at 256-414-6099 anytime or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes to hitting the water, there are countless ways to spend your day on Lake Martin. But what if you don’t have access to a boat? Bringing your own watercraft is not always an option, so here is a list of hassle-free places to rent one on the lake!
(256) 257 – 8635 Four Locations, Listed Below
Russell Marine has four marinas located on Lake Martin, making it a convenient choice no matter where you are staying on the lake. They offer both pontoons and deck boats, both of which are serviced by their professional marine service technicians so you can always hit the water in your rental with confidence!
You can also boost your rental with a variety of add-on accessories including: riding tubes with rope, wakeboards, combo skis, kayaks, paddleboards, wake surfboards, and ZUP boards.
Whether you are looking to get some fishing in or just enjoy a day on the lake with the family, the Wind Creek State Park Marina has you covered. They offer a variety of vessels to fit your needs, including Flat Bottom Jon boats, Bass boats, small pontoons, and large party pontoons with many of the vessel options being pet friendly.
All rentals come complete with life jackets, a throw, and paddles as needed so you can just hop on in and enjoy the fun!
Rentals are on a first-come, first-serve basis so be sure to get to the marina early and secure your boat for the day. Live bait, tackle, game and fishing licenses, floats, and various other supplies are all available for purchase at the marina store.
You can also find paddleboats, kayaks, and canoes for rent at the park. These items are located at the Creem at the Creek outdoor restaurant.
(256) 825-9286 Two Locations, Listed Below
Lakeside Marina has a full fleet of boats ready to go! Located in the Dadeville and Jackson’s Gap area of Lake Martin, they offer a large selection of ski boats and Bennington pontoons, all of which come ready with life vests and a full tank of gas.
They are also flexible to your renting needs. Lakeside Marina offers rental periods ranging from 4 hours to an entire week, so you never have to worry about limiting your time on the water.
And if you are looking to add some additional water toys to your day, Lakeside Marina also offers kayaks, paddleboards, tubes, knee and wakeboards, and skis for an additional $50 per day.
Located inside the Stillwaters Resort, Harbor Pointe Marina is ready to assist you with your pontoon rental needs! They pride themselves on offering clean, fuel-efficient pontoons that are maintained by their professional marine service technicians. They also offer the option to rent tubes to take on the boat, a sure way to add fun to your day!
If you are looking to make a stop at Chimney Rock or Goat Island, Anchor Bay Marina may be the choice for you! Located on Castaway Island Rd, Anchor Bay can fulfill your pontoon needs. You can also add to your fun with enhancers like paddleboards, kayaks, tubes, and skis – offering an activity fit for everyone in your crew!
Looking to boost your weekend with a boat rental? Smith Marina might be just what you are looking for! Located near Willow Point Golf and Country Club, their operating hours are 11 AM – 6 PM on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. While you are in there, you can also catch a cool treat at “Shipwreck Sam’s Ice Cream & Yogurt,” located inside the marina.
Located at the Maxwell-Gunter Recreational Area, Life at the Max offers US military service members and veterans of all branches access to a large variety of watercraft rentals. With the option to rent by the hour or for a full day, military personnel have the choice of a pontoon, bass boat, canoe, water tricycle, paddleboard, kayak, or jet ski.
This site is basically the Airbnb of boats! Getmyboat.com is an easy way to rent a watercraft from locals on Lake Martin. There are a variety of vessels to choose from, including open bow powerboats, surf boats, jet skis, and pontoons. One even comes with a waterslide!
This one isn’t really a boat rental. Well, I guess it is. You are renting a boat with a captain to chauffeur you around. This option is for those who just want to sit back, soak up the sun rays, and check out the sights of Lake Martin without a care in the world. I have also heard of people going out on a tour with Captain Art the day prior to renting their own boat just to get the lay of the land-or should I say-water. It’s a BIG lake!
If your idea of getting out on the water is more slow paced, you may be interested in a kayak or canoe rental. Kayaking and canoeing on Lake Martin is a great experience, and Off the Beaten Path will deliver kayaks and canoes wherever you are staying or wanting to depart from.
Another great place to rent kayaks and canoes is the Adventure Center at Russell Crossroads. They also offer paddleboard rentals and paddleboat rentals.
Alabama Boating Rules and Regulations Before you hit the water, it is important to know the Alabama laws about boating. In the state of Alabama, all boat operators must be at least 12 years of age and have a vessel license to operate a vessel or personal watercraft, and at least 14 years old to operate a vessel alone. A non-resident of Alabama is allowed to operate a vessel for 45 calendar days without a boating license. Afterwards, non-residents are allowed to use their certification or license acquired from another state.
In addition, all boats must have US Coast Guard approved personal floatation device for each person on board. You can read more about Alabama Boating Rules and Regulations here: ALEA.gov Boating Regulations
June produced some nice catches for us. Moving into July we should still be catching stripers two different ways- one which is my favorite- live baiting on huge schools, which is fun to do trolling with our Downriggers (Scotty Electric Pro Paks) with 10 lb. weights and a wide variety of artificial lures. I for one like to troll the deeper parts of the lake in search of that trophy bite. If you choose to try your luck trolling, concentrate where you know summer time stripers hang out and troll about 3 mph + or – . Don’t be scared to keep swapping out lures until you find one that you have confidence in- and hopefully you’ve caught stripers on in the past. I troll several different lures at the same time and if I catch 2 or more on one particular lure, then I switch all rods to that lure for the remainder of that day. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t catch anything the first time you troll because if you go enough, you will have a day that you can’t do anything wrong and you will fill the box. Once you do that you will never doubt the trolling method again!
Lake Martin is one of the best known lakes for catching the Salt Water Stripe Bass. That’s really the name, and yes, this beast survives and thrives here in our freshwater reservoir. It’s one of the most exciting fish in fresh water you will ever have on your hook. Fishing on Lake Martin may also land you a Spotted Bass, Largemouth Bass, Crappie, Catfish, Bream, or Carp.
Lake Martin Fishing Tournaments:
Lake Martin is also host to many fishing tournaments, which can be found on our events calendar. This month, you will want to check out the OGS Fishing Tournaments Moonlight Series. It is a total of six events held on Friday nights between June 4th and July 30th out of Dare Park Ramp.
He’s the man, the myth, the legend. He helped lay the foundation of country music as we know it today-and from the stories floating around, had a lot of fun doing it in the process……of course I’m talking about the one and only Hank Williams.
Did you know that not only was Hank one of the most talented musicians in history, but it turns out, he had pretty good taste in travel destinations too? Hank and his girlfriend Bobbie Jett spent time at Lake Martin in the Summer of 1952-and spoiler alert, we do still have a chance for you to experience the area as he experienced it himself. You don’t have to do everything he did while in town though-we do advise that you stay out of jail on your visit. Yes-that really happened to him.
A local DJ, Bob McKinnon, was a friend of Hank’s and had known him since early in his career. He arranged for him to come stay at the cabin on Lake Martin. Hank had just divorced his wife Audry a few months before that, and supposedly needed a little time to himself. But-he didn’t show up alone. He showed up in his blue 1952 Cadillac convertible with a pretty, blonde, pregnant woman sitting right beside him. That’s the same blue Cadillac that he would meet his untimely death in just a few months later.
He stayed in Alexander City for about four months. The time he spent here was valuable-because it was the source of inspiration for the hit song “Kaw-Liga.”
In the song, Hank talks about a wooden Indian named Kaw-Liga, and describes his heart as being made of knotty pine wood. The cabin where he stayed had knotty pine paneling, so we are assuming that’s how that ended up in the song.
But-it wasn’t all work, work, work during his time here. While Hank was making music magic happen during his time at Lake Martin, he was causing a little havoc too. In August 1952, a month before he turned 29, he was arrested and thrown in the Alexander City Jail for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. The rumor is that he was bailed out and taken back to the cabin that night, and was left there without his car. That apparently didn’t stop him though, because he hitchhiked right back into town to keep that crazy night going.
So now that you know the places to avoid when visiting Lake Martin (jail), let me tell you a little about the one place you must visit if you want to truly experience the Lake Martin that Hank experienced-the Hank Williams Cabin. The cabin where he stayed during that time is still intact-and you can get a great view of it by boat from the water. While it is not available for tours, you can actually spend the night in it. It is definitely one of the coolest places to stay on Lake Martin. As a bonus, 100% of the money made from renting the lakeside cabin goes to help fund Children’s Harbor, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that funds camps for children with disabilities. So yes, you can stay where Hank himself stayed, and you can also do something good for the world at the same time.
When you first walk into the cabin, you will get chills-just knowing that the legend himself spent time there and that it had such a significant impact on one of the awesome musical treasures that he left us with.
As you look around, you will see that no detail has been left out, as it has been restored to look just like it looked at that time.
Any music fan will also appreciate the nice touches of the Hank Williams memorabilia that can be found in the cabin.
But don’t come here looking for the luxuries of today. Hank wanted to get away from it all, and that’s what you will experience when you are here too. When you are swinging on the glider on the back porch facing Lake Martin, you will feel the peacefulness that Hank must have felt, and you can just imagine the sounds of him there beside you strumming his guitar. You really can’t beat the view- and maybe it will bring you as much inspiration as it did Hank.
When you are in the area, you have to also check out Kowaliga Restaurant, which is just across the road from the cabin. It is one of the must visit places to eat on Lake Martin, and you can go by car or by boat. Not only do they have some of most scrumptious catfish you have ever tasted, but they also have some really cool Hank memorabilia to check out too. And if you go, make sure you get a selfie with Kowaliga, the wooden Indian at the entrance.
The original Kowaliga wooden Indian-the one made famous in the Hank Williams song-according to local businessman Fred Dobbs and Charlotte Hodnett-came from Horace Heil who was the Alexander City Pontiac dealer.
But that first Indian was kidnapped! Never to be seen again. His successor, who was found at a Sylacauga Pontiac dealership, also disappeared without a trace. Some forethought was given when the third Kowaliga was created, as he was made of rebar reinforced concrete. Although he managed to not be abducted, he suffered many assaults over the years, including fire and vandals. Although his war club did go missing for a short period of time, the fourth wooden Indian, now resting comfortably inside Kowaliga Restaurant, was created by Cory Worten, a wood carver, of Beneath The Bark Carvings.
The Hank Williams Trail
The Hank Williams cabin on Lake Martin is something you must experience, but-there’s more. There is actually a whole Hank Williams Trail that runs through Alabama-and this is a must do for any country music fan. You can see everything from his boyhood home to the site of his grave-and see the places that meant so much to him in between.
A special thanks to Robert Gunn with Russell Lands for his contribution to this article.
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.
If you are looking to hit the water for an unforgettable adventure, kayaking the Tallapoosa River in Alabama is a must!
As a part of the Harold Banks Canoe Trail, the Tallapoosa River stretches over 265 miles, flowing from the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains of Georgia into the heart of foothills in southern Alabama. With sweeping views, the sounds of rushing water, and the vastly diverse wildlife, the Tallapoosa River is remarkably stunning from beginning to end.
Perhaps the most popular spot to kayak on the Tallapoosa River is what is referred to as “Section 3”. Section 3 is one of five segments on the Harold Banks Canoe Trail along the Tallapoosa River that offers paddlers breathtaking scenic views and unique pit stops along the way. It is not only great for beginners to “get their feet wet” so to speak, but its rich and diverse landscape also makes it enjoyable for the more experienced kayaker to relax and take in the scenery.
The drop-in point for Section 3 is at the historical Horseshoe Bend public access ramp and ends approximately 6 miles downstream at Jay Bird Landing. The float is said to take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on experience level and the current speed of the river. Kayakers are encouraged to check the “flow rate” speeds however before hoping in. Favorable discharge rates are between 1,500 and 10,000 ft3/second. You can check the daily Tallapoosa River flow rates here.
The float itself is peaceful and relaxing. It’s the perfect combination of flat water and shoals, which rarely ever reach above Class 1 on the international scale of river difficulty. However, kayakers should expect to get a little wet! Though it is a typically smooth ride, some of the shoals and rapids can provide a fun splash along the way. It is suggested for kayakers to stick to the left of the river for an easier ride, while more adventurous paddlers can take their chances along the right.
Along with stunning rock cliffs and forestry on either side of the banks, paddlers can expect to see a vast array of wildlife and foliage while kayaking this section. Oftentimes kayakers can catch a bald eagle swooping in for a fish, or blue herons walking amongst the banks. Turtles, fish, and even an occasional river snake can sometimes be spotted as well.
For our trip, Stephen and I connected with river guides from the local kayaking company Off the Beaten Path. The owner, Chuck Browne, is an experienced tour guide who travels all over the South, floating rivers and waterways at unique destinations for over 40 years. We met with him and his niece, Phoebe, who was particularly experienced in paddling the Tallapoosa River.
As Stephen and I arrived for our trip, we parked our car at the end of a long, secluded dirt road that dead-ended into the public access at Jay Bird Landing. Here, Chuck and Phoebe were already waiting with their shuttle van and our rental kayaks to bring us to our drop-in point.
As we arrived at the Horseshoe Bend landing, several huge stone pillar structures in the water caught our eye. We learned that these were the reminisce of “Miller Covered Bridge”, once the longest covered bridge in Alabama and one of the longest bridges in the United States back in the early 1900s. It has since been reduced down to just simple, stone columns but is still quite an interesting piece of history to see.
As we popped our kayaks in and began down the river, the views from beginning to end are just simply breathtaking. The sights change with every bend in the river, with rock formations and woods surrounding either side of the banks. Patches of thick greenery grow within the running water, where the rare aquatic flower called the Cahaba Lily is known to grow. The flower is a part of the spider lily family and only grows in running water in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and parts of North Carolina. These rare flowers usually only bloom between mid-May and mid-June. Locals use the dates of “Mother’s Day” and “Father’s Day” as a rule of thumb for the best time to spot the Cahaba Lilies in full bloom.
There are also a few key points of interest kayakers can see while paddling the Tallapoosa River.
A little over a mile into your paddle from Horseshoe Bend, the first point of interest you come up to is referred to as “Peters Island” – another public access drop-in point into the Tallapoosa River. It is thought that it used to be a place where cotton was farmed back in the 1800s but now is inhabited by Black Walnut trees. The fascinating part about the island is the history behind the name still stays as somewhat of a mystery.
Just past Peters Island is another well-known spot referred to as “Laura’s Leap”. It is a small cluster of rock formations that juts out just over the waters. When the river is high enough, kayakers are known to make the short climb and the leap from the cliffs for a quick splash down into the river waters below. If you time your trip just right, you can also catch a beautiful display of wildflowers surrounding Laura’s Leap called “Mountain Laurels”. These beautiful white and pink flowers are known to put on a display beginning in the Spring months through to midsummer. They can be poisonous to animals however, so it is usually best to enjoy them from afar.
You may also notice while paddling Section 3 some of the unique makeshift campsites along the banks of the river. They are simple, small clearings made up of mismatched chairs and various furniture pieces with the occasional fire pit – and even a grill in one instance! The areas are just big enough for perhaps 2 to 4 people to either post up for a quick break or even tie up a hammock and relax along the riverbank. It is said that these little areas are in fact on private property but are made available to the occasional kayaker to catch a quick break.
For our trip however, Stephen and I opted for a pit stop at the “beach”. It’s a small natural sand formation roughly halfway through the float and is the perfect place to stop for a quick swim in the river or even unpack a lunch and take in the incredible views.
The second half of the trip is where it really starts to pick up the pace. Kayakers are faced with the fastest rapids yet, some back-to-back. Though they are not difficult to maneuver, they are sure to get your heart racing and put a little thrill into your trip! And don’t worry – if you find a few waves made their way into your kayak, there are several places to pull off and empty out the water before you are well on your way again!
The trip down Section 3 ends at Jay Bird Landing, just before the Tallapoosa River begins to feed into Lake Martin. It can be spotted by fishing banks and piers, and kayakers can paddle right up to the boat launch to pull out – bringing you full circle to where it all began.
From beginning to end, kayaking the Tallapoosa River is one of the most beautifully unique and scenic paddles Alabama has to offer. Do yourself a favor and make your paddle plans today – this is a trip you will never forget!
If you go, you may want to also check out the Tallapoosa River Kayak Club . This is a great resource to chat with others who know the river well, ask questions, and find new friends to go paddling with.
Looking to plan your next outdoor adventure? Wind Creek State Park should be at the top of your list! Stretching over 1,440 acres across the Lake Martin, Alabama shoreline, visitors are greeted with sweeping waterfront views and endless activities. Whether you are planning a family vacation or solo day trip, there is something for everyone to enjoy!
Check out our list of things to do at Wind Creek State Park:
TENT & RV CAMPING, AND LAKESIDE CABINS
One of the largest state-operated campground in the United States, Wind Creek State Park boasts 586 tent and RV campsites along with 20 sites in the Equine Campground. They come in a variety of water, sewer, and amp combinations along with the option to stay at any one of their 157 waterfront campsites or 39 newly renovated RV sites. Bathhouses are located throughout the campground along with 2 laundry facilities. There are also 7 rental camping cabins onsite as well.
Need to entertain the kids? No problem! Along with various playgrounds throughout the park, campers can also enjoy a variety of arts and crafts and educational programs hosted at the clubhouse. And be sure to pack your campsite decorations if you plan to stay in October! Every year Wind Creek State Park hosts their highly anticipated Fall Festival, filled with exciting events like the costume parade, campsite decorating contest, and of course – trick or treating! It is easily one of the most popular weekends on the campground and you usually need to book your site a year in advance.
Specific campsites can be reserved, but if they’re not reserved they’re available on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you are hoping to see Lake Martin under the starry night sky, be sure to book your site well in advance of your trip as sites are known to go quickly during holidays and Summer months. You can make reservations by walk-up, calling the office, or via online here: Wind Creek State Park Online Camping Reservations
RENT A BOAT
Whether you are looking to get some fishing in or just enjoy a day on the lake with the family, the Wind Creek State Park Marina has you covered. They offer a variety of vessels to fit your needs, including Flat Bottom Jon boats, Bass boats, small pontoons, and large party pontoons. All rentals come complete with life jackets, a throw, and paddles as needed so you can just hop on in and enjoy the fun!
Rentals are on a first-come, first-serve basis so be sure to get to the marina early and secure your boat for the day.
Paddleboats, kayaks, and canoes are also available for rent at the park. You can find these items located at the Creem at the Creek outdoor restaurant.
Lake Martin is known to have some of the best fishing in the state! And Wind Creek State Park is your public access to the waters. Crappie, bluegill, and striped bass are among the most popular species of fish anglers can expect to see when hitting the water.
Fishermen can drop their boats in from the Wind Creek boat launch or throw a line from the 210-foot fishing pier, which is open 24 hours. It is also the site for a number of local fishing tournaments and weigh-ins throughout the year, with stadium seating for family and friends to watch all the fun.
Live bait and tackle are available for purchase in the Country Store located at the marina, as well as Hunting and Fishing Licenses. The cost is $5 to use the Wind Creek State Park boat launch.
PACK A PICNIC ON THE BEACH
The sandy beach is the perfect place to unpack your float and soak up some sun! The private beach is located on Hodnett Drive, just past the Archery Range and Equine Campground. A bathroom facility is located at the main beach entrance and parking, making it easily accessible for guests.
Along with a stretch of soft sand to sink your toes in, the beach also includes a plethora of picnic tables, pavilions, and grills all along the shoreline. Feeling competitive? You will also find two sand volleyball nets to strike up a game with fellow beachgoers!
The beach is accessible for single-day guests as well as campers, creating the perfect spot for everyone to come and enjoy Lake Martin! Park day-use fees will apply to single-day guests.
CLIMB THE HISTORIC SILO
An iconic figure at Wind Creek State Park is the old, historic silo located near Hospice Point. It is said to have been the grain silo of a local farmer before the dam was built in the 1920s. Much of the farm was buried underwater when Lake Martin was created- however, the silo remained untouched. Over the years it has been utilized as a staff office building as well as a gift shop for the state park. It has since been filled in and currently serves as a unique sightseeing destination for campers and park guests to enjoy.
Visitors that seek the thrill of the climb to the top of the silo are rewarded with breathtaking views of the lake. Be sure to add it to your trip bucket list for stunning photos and fun memories!
HIKE THE SCENIC TRAILS
Wind Creek State Park hiking trails offer guests a variety of beautiful terrain and unforgettable experiences. There are two main trails for hikers to choose from, the “Alabama Reunion Trail” and the “Campfire Trail.”
The Alabama Reunion Trail is a scenic loop, stretching approximately 3.8 miles long and bisected into two “sides” by highway 128. The North Side is roughly 1.95 miles long and the South Side is 1.8 miles. Hikers can expect to see an abundance of birds and wildlife among the picturesque woodlands, along with an old home site located on the North Side.
The Campfire Trail offers hikers the opportunity to see Lake Martin, with sections of stunning waterfront views as well as beautiful woodland terrain. This trail is approximately 1.8 miles long and rated as a moderate trail with notably steep areas. Three connectors stem from this trail, all approximately 1/5 mile long. Along with views of the lake, hikers can also expect to see a series of rock outcroppings and a small stream. You may even stumble across a fire pit or two!
Wind Creek State Park is also a part of the Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail. Situated amongst woodlands and Lake Martin waters, it offers visitors the unique opportunity to see Osprey and Bald Eagles throughout the year, as well as seasonal Ring-billed Gulls, Herrings, Red-headed Woodpeckers, and many more.
HORSEBACK RIDING TRAILS AND TOURS
Take a relaxing and scenic ride through the diverse state park trails! Riders can bring their horses for a day trip or camp overnight in one of the 20 sites available at the Equine Campground. These campsites are provided on a walk-up basis, as no reservations are taken at this time. The trails stretch over 30 miles throughout the park, providing each rider with a gorgeous variety of woodlands and lake views.
Horseback tours are also available through Rockin’ K Guided Trail Rides. They accept all riders from advanced to first-timers and offer 1 to 2 hour trail rides based on your comfort level and ability. Rides can be tailored to cover a variety of terrain, including the scenic Campfire Trail, and even a splash through the lake waters! All riders must be at least 8 years old. You can contact Rockin’ K Guided Trail Rides by phone or email for pricing and to schedule your ride. Phone: 334-324-3537 Email: email@example.com
Breeze through the trees on the Screaming Eagle Adventures canopy zipline tour! With a total of 11 ziplines and 6 skywalks, it’s a thrilling adventure for guests of all ages. As zipliners are guided through the course, you can expect to see gorgeous views of the beach, lake waters, and of course – the treetops!
Beginners can choose Level One, which includes 8 zip lines and 5 aerial bridges while advanced visitors can choose the slightly more vigorous Level Two, which covers the full length of the zipline tour. With heights from 20 to 70 feet in the air and speeds reaching upwards of 35 to 40 mph, it will have you cheering for more as you glide throughout the course.
To top off your experience, Screaming Eagle Adventures also captures several of your memorable moments with complimentary photos.
Book your zipline adventure today! Find pricing and availability here.
And you can check out video from our ziplining adventure here.
Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt filled with hiking, tracking, and following clues to find secret containers that are hidden all around you. These containers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and oftentimes include small trinkets that you can swap out with one of your own. All geocaches include a log for you to sign when you find it, so don’t forget to bring your pen!
Wind Creek State Park is home to over 30 geocaches, which makes for continuous fun throughout your stay for children and adults alike. Download the Geocaching app for free to get started!
Practice your shot and sight in your bow at the public Archery Range. This includes 3 targets in the Youth Range, distanced at 5, 10, and 15 yards; as well as 7 targets in the Adult Range, varying from 20 to 50 yards. Stadium seating is provided for spectators, so invite your family and friends to come and watch all the action!
To use the range you must have either a valid hunting license, Wildlife Management Area License, or a Wildlife Heritage License. Equipment is not provided, so be sure to pack your bow and arrows with practice tips. The archery range is free to use for campers, however, park day-use fees will apply to anyone not staying at the park.
Hit 18 holes at the Wind Creek State Park Putt-Putt course! Each hole is creatively designed after local attractions, bringing to life fun characteristics and destinations on Lake Martin. Putters are available onsite for players of all sizes. The cost is $5 per player, or $3 for kids 13 and under. Park day-use fees will also apply to any non-campers.
CREEM AT THE CREEK
Top off your day by indulging in a pizza or treat the family to ice cream at Creem at the Creek! Open during the Summer months, you can catch a quick bite to eat at this outdoor restaurant located inside the park. Kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards are also available to rent at this location.
Whether you are looking for an exciting thrill or relaxing day on the lake, Wind Creek State Park has you covered! For more park information visit: Wind Creek State Park
As Summer gets closer, we look forward to being outside, feeling the sun on our skin, and enjoying our fun filled boat days. But nothing ruins an awesome day on the lake quicker than an accident. So, while boating safety may not be the most fun topic, it is the most important one. Our exciting day is instantly ruined when we are faced with a problem out on the lake-and nobody wants that, right? Instead of being reactive and dealing with a situation when it happens, it’s usually a better idea to be proactive to avoid issues in the first place.
Checklist of Boating Supplies
Start off with making sure you have a few critical supplies on hand. You will need a life jacket for each person that is on board. If there are kids on board, make sure they are wearing child size life jackets. It’s important to have a first aid kit on board too. Even with minor cuts and scrapes, you want to have supplies on hand to handle whatever you face. You will want to have things like bandages, gauze, alcohol cleaning pads, aspirin, etc. A signaling device like a horn, bell, or whistle also needs to be available on the boat in case you need to get someone’s attention and let them know that you need assistance. You also need to have a fire extinguisher on board. Hopefully you will never have to deal with a fire, but you have to be prepared just in case. If a fire does ever break out on your boat, turn off the engine right away. And then break out those life jackets we just talked about. Have everyone put one on just to be safe. If you can, turn the boat so that the fire is downwind and then use the fire extinguisher. It may seem simple, but when you are caught up in the moment, it can be easy to forget how to use the fire extinguisher-especially if you have never used it before. Try to remember the acronym PASS-Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the handle, and Sweep from side to side.
One of the most critical things to understand on the lake are the buoys. Lake Martin Resource Association volunteers work hard all year to put these on the water and maintain them. They are there to protect you and make your days on the boat more enjoyable. Right now, there are more than 400 buoys on Lake Martin. Most of them are floating white buoys that are six feet tall, and have orange diamonds on them. You might also see some that are poles with similar markings. When you see those diamonds, be on the lookout, because that means there is something underwater that you want to avoid hitting. It could be a rock, stump, underwater shoal, or something that has sank in the lake. You may not see it, but it’s there, and that buoy has been placed to warn you of the hazard. You will also see buoys with an orange circle. Those are the Slow-No Wake buoys. There are also buoys with a diamond and cross in the middle that are used to alert boaters to keep out of a certain area. To learn more about the different buoys, you can check out LMRA’s buoy safety video here.
When you see the buoys, keep your distance. Make sure you stay at least 100 feet away so that you can avoid whatever is beneath the surface. Sometimes you might see buoys that are within 200 feet of each other. If you see that, don’t try to go between them. This can be a dangerous situation and it’s something you definitely want to avoid.
If you see a buoy within 100 feet of the shoreline, this could mean two things. Either the water is really shallow in that area, or there is something underwater between the buoy and the shoreline that you don’t want to hit. Either way, if you see a buoy that close, don’t try to take your boat between the buoy and the shore. And regardless of if you see a buoy or not, be super careful if you are within 50 feet of the shoreline, no matter if the water level is high or low. The water closer to the shoreline is shallow and there are plenty of rocks and stump hazards.
If you don’t know the lake that well, it’s a good idea to just not be out boating after daylight at all. There are some buoys that have a solar light mounted, and you can see those from a mile away. Those are limited though, and in the dark, it can be really hard to see things that could be dangerous. Even the buoys that you can clearly see in the day can be difficult to see at night.
Another time to be extra careful is when the water level is low during the months of October-March. With lower levels, some hazards that would be deeper during the Summer months, will then be closer to the surface- and could cause major problems if you hit them. Just to be clear, you can be on the lake during the Fall and Winter months. That is actually a really great time to fish. However, if you go, be very careful, especially if you don’t know the lake as well.
Sometimes, you may come across a damaged buoy, or you may notice that it has moved away from the hazard that it was intended to mark. Things happen-boats could hit them or strong winds could move them from their intended location. If you notice this, you need to notify Lake Martin Resource Association. On the buoy you will find a decal with the email address firstname.lastname@example.org and a telephone number to call. It also has the buoy’s identifying letter and numbers which tells the LMRA crew the specific GPS location of where the buoy was located. They need this information so that they can get the buoy back where it is supposed to be.
We couldn’t have a discussion about boating safety without mentioning docking lights. The only time that docking lights should be used is when you are…… docking. They are not supposed to be on when you are out on the open water. At night, these lights can affect the vision of other boaters and could cause them to not see on-coming boats. This is a boating respect thing and a safety thing. It won’t earn you any popularity points with other boaters, and it can be harmful to others. Just don’t do it. If you are busted using them out on the open water, you could also end up getting a ticket. That’s another way to ruin an awesome lake day really quickly.
It’s also very important to keep an eye on the weather when you are out on the water. It’s Alabama- and weather can change quickly. A storm can pop up out of nowhere, and take it from one who has been out in them, it’s a little freaky. Keep your eye on the sky and watch for temperature changes, changes in wind patterns, and changes in cloud formations. Those can be signs that a storm is brewing. If you are out on the lake and get caught in a storm, try to get to the closest safe shelter. If you have to ride out the storm on the boat, have everyone onboard put on a life jacket and get as close to the centerline as possible. Keep the bow of the boat to the wind, and ride the waves at a 45 degree angle.
If Something Happens
I hope that you don’t experience anything bad out on the water. If something does happen though, you can call the Marine Police in Alexander City at 256-329-2268. Go ahead and put that phone number in your cell phone just in case you need it. Hopefully you will never use it, but if you are in an emergency, you won’t want to take the time to Google the number at that time. Another number to put in your phone is TowBoatUS Lake Martin- 256-307-1313. Sometimes you may not experience an accident, but you may just have mechanical problems like a dead battery or the unthinkable scenario where you run out of gas. It happens-and you don’t want to be left in the middle of the lake if it does. They are available 24 hours a day to help.
Boating License, Classes, and Rules
If you are an Alabama resident, you do need to have a boating license. Residents 12 and older can get a license, but nobody under 14 can operate a boat alone. If you are not a resident of Alabama, you can operate a boat here for up to 45 days per year with no license. You can learn more about the boating requirements and processes here. Regardless of if you are a resident or non-resident, it’s not a bad idea to take a boating class. There are several options offered online and in person. Russell Marine even hosts an annual event each Spring just for the ladies called Women on the Water. It’s a Girls Day Out with a purpose-where women come together to learn about safe boating practices. Whether you take a class or not though, you should definitely make it a point to be aware of all of the Boating Rules and Regulations for the State of Alabama.
Some of these things may seem elementary to you, but we did tell you this was the Boating Safety 101 class. It’s never a bad idea for the pros to get a refresher. Another thing to be aware of is that last year was a record year for boat sales in our area. There are a lot of new boaters on the water, and not all of them may be aware of the standard safety procedures. Always be aware of the other boats around you. For the newbies, it’s important to get the basics down. Knowing how to be safe can mean the difference between a good day and a bad day out on the lake. Don’t be that guy or girl taking risks that may hurt yourself or others. It’s ok to ask questions. Be informed about the safety basics. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all safety procedures, but rather a place to start in your learning journey. We want you to have the best day ever while out enjoying beautiful Lake Martin, and part of that is making sure you are safe.
Lake Martin is a special place where everyone loves spending time on the lake. And I do mean everyone-both those with two and four legs. You probably think I am talking about dogs-and trust me they love the lake too-but today I’m actually talking about goats. Yes, goats love our lake! There is even one special group of goats that like to spend their Summers on an island at Lake Martin. They get on a pontoon boat and make the trek to their island each Spring, and then go back to their home to spend the Winters with their parents, Ricky and Stacie Baker.
A visit to Lake Martin just isn’t complete without a trip to Goat Island. The island itself is just north of Martin Dam, and is only accessible by boat. The goats love getting visitors though, and this is one thing you absolutely, positively have to add to your day on Lake Martin. Let me be clear though, this is not like a petting zoo. You won’t buy a ticket and be ushered in. These goats are just there chilling and living their best goat life. Think about it…..These are goats, spending their Summer vacation on an island in the middle of a beautiful lake-and you get to go play with them and feed them Cheetos. What could possibly be better than that? Below are a few tips to help you find your way there, and have a great trip to Goat Island.
Latitude: 32.69082, Longitude: -85.91540
FREE. This island is open to the public and anyone is welcome to come visit the goats. However, they do have a bank account set up, and you are welcome to donate anytime if you feel led. This is not a business, and there is one loving family that handles all of their care- including food, medical care, etc. If you are interested in donating to the care of the goats, you can do so via PayPal: email@example.com or Venmo: Goat-Island
Things The Goats Love:
-Cheetos (This is their favorite food! Want to make quick friends with the goats? Bring that cheesy, crunchy goodness to them!)
Things The Goats Do Not Love:
-Dogs (There are lots of islands for the dogs to visit on Lake Martin, but because the goats can get a little freaked out by them, please refrain from bringing them here.)
Follow Them On Social Media:
This special crew has their own island-of course they have their own Facebook page as well. The owners update the page with the latest info for visitors, and it is a place where everyone can share their Goat Island selfies and ask questions. Whether you visit or not, just following them on Facebook is sure to put some happiness in your newsfeed. You can follow them here.
Get to Know the Goats of Goat Island
My name is Bug. I was born on March 12, 2016. I was named by Bailey and we have the same birthday. Her nickname is Bug, so that’s how I got my name.
My name is Lakey. I was born on March 2, 2019. My mom is Rosie and I have a twin brother. His name is Smalls.
My name is Smalls. I was born on March 2, 2019. My mom is Rosie and I have a twin brother. His name is Lakey.
My name is Marley. I was born on February 5, 2020. My mom is Sweetie Pie and I have a twin brother. His name is Moe. I am just like my mom-I am very loud and like to talk alot.
My name is Sissy. I was born on February 5, 2020. My mom is Bug and I am one of the triplets. My sister is Sassy and my brother is Skoot.
My name is Moe. I was born on February 5, 2020. My mom is Sweetie Pie and I have a twin sister. Her name is Marley.
My name is Sweetie Pie. I was born on March 13, 2016. I was named by Britney. I am the LOUDEST one on the Island and I talk ALL the time!
My name is Kowaliga. I was born on March 2, 2019. My mom is Bug and I have a twin brother. His name is Brownie.
My name is Rosie. I was born on March 18, 2016. I was named by Blaire. I am the most gentle one of all my family.
My name is Skoot. I was born on February 5, 2020. My mom is Bug and I am one of the triplets. My sisters are Sissy and Sassy.
My name is Sassy. I was born on February 5, 2020. My mom is Bug and I am one of the triplets. My sister is Sissy and my brother is Scoot.
My name is Brownie. I was born on March 2, 2019. My mom is Bug and I have a twin brother. His name is Kowaliga.
One of the things that I am proudest of in our community is our desire and effort to keep it clean and pristine for our visitors and residents, while also protecting our environment. I recently saw a picture online of a bird in England tangled up in a used face mask that had been thrown out. Those kinds of things bother me, and it’s why I personally choose to do my part to not let it happen. And let’s face it-trash on the roads or on the lake is just not cute. Nobody wants to see that. In my mind, I’ve always thought all trash is bad. Until…….. I heard a story about one special piece of trash-that actually turned out not to be trash. It was an item disguised as trash, that would bring back memories for a group of siblings and cousins decades later.
As we were getting ready for our Tourism Gives Back Earth Day Clean-Up that is happening this weekend, I was chatting with some participants and a special story was shared with me. It was heartwarming and inspiring, and if I wasn’t already motivated to go picking up trash before, I certainly am now. I want to find my own special piece of trash!
The story goes back to 2018. Adams Beverages was participating in a clean-up on Lake Martin with Lake Martin Resource Association. One of the people in the group that day was Lee Pitchford. As he went to grab one bottle caught in a stump across from Peanut Point, he saw that it was different. At that moment, he had no idea how different though, or how the story of that bottle would go back almost 40 years. Upon looking closer, he noticed that there was something inside of it, and he carefully pulled out pieces of paper. Cue the Police song….. yes… this was indeed….. a Message in a Bottle! It turns out a group of kids from Roanoke and Wadley placed this message in the bottle on June 15, 1981-and he found it almost a week to the day, 37 years later. How crazy!
DeLane Hodges Vansandt was 16 at the time, and said her two brothers, Russ and Rick Hodges, and two cousins, Troy Hodges and Tera Hodges-Ogilvie, decided to create their own message in a bottle. DeLane told me that they were out camping on the Tallapoosa River near Wadley with her parents, Jerrell and Royann Hodges, and aunt and uncle, Waymon and Linda Hodges. There were messages from all 5 kids, and they all put their age, address, and the date. All of the messages were then put in a glass RC Cola bottle that they had ripped the paper off of. She said that she remembers her dad tightening the lid so that it would be securely closed.
Lee had no idea of any of these happenings though, and didn’t realize quite the treasure that he had found that day. He was set on finding those people who had their names in the bottle, so he took his mission to Facebook. And what do you know, he was able to locate all 5 of them!
Lee returned the bottle to it’s rightful owners, and took the bottle and messages to the home of DeLane’s parents. DeLane’s mom, Royann, told The Randolph Leader that there was a deeper message behind the story of the bottle. She said “What we toss out, literally and figuratively, eventually comes back to us. We’ll treasure this bottle and the memories of a wonderful childhood filled with love and good family time together.”
I’ve read that it takes anywhere from 4,000-1,000,000 years for glass to decompose. That’s a wide range, but even on the shorter end of that range, a glass bottle will definitely outlast all of us. The fact that the glass lasted that long is not surprising to me. However, the fact that it remained perfectly intact with the messages dry inside for almost 40 years is surprising. DeLane said another interesting fact is that the bottle was found near the lake house of another of her aunt and uncles, Don and Lynn Hodges. Who knows how long that bottle had been stuck on that stump waiting to make it’s way back to this family?
As we get ready for the clean up this weekend, I am excited to see what my finds bring me. Will it be a message from the past? Will I be able to have the ability to bring back fond memories from decades ago like Lee did? I’m not sure, and probably won’t hold my breath on that. However, this charming story that was told to me does give me extra motivation to get out and give back to my community. It also reminds me to look closely-as things are not always what they seem. At first, Lee saw trash. What that ended up being was a cherished memory that he will forever get to be a part of. I will definitely look closely at whatever I pick up this weekend!
So the million dollar question is……. What does a million dollar fish look like? And the next question is obviously-where do I find that fish?
That million dollar fish looks just like any other bass-he/she may be a largemouth or spotted bass. We don’t know. What we do know is that the fish will be wearing a special fashion accessory that sets it apart. And to answer the second question-that fish is in Lake Martin! I have no idea where on Lake Martin (if I did I would be shopping for the new boat I would be buying with my winnings), but that special fish is swimming around the lake right this second. There are actually 200 tagged fish released in different locations from up the river beyond Highway 280, to Parker Creek near Kowaliga.
While we don’t have a lottery here in Alabama, we do have this special game of chance that also includes a little fun time on the lake as a bonus. In my opinion, that’s much more fun than scratching off a lotto ticket anyway. This little game of chance is called Crank 4 Bank and it is put on by OGS Tournaments. It’s kind of like a fishing tournament, but……. not really. If you are looking for fishing tournaments, they do those too-and have some great ones to participate in. They even do some nighttime tournaments during the summer. But-that’s not what Crank 4 Bank is about. See, this is not about catching the biggest fish, or the most fish-it’s just about catching the RIGHT fish. If you have registered ahead of time, and are lucky enough to catch one of them between April 1-July 4, you could win $1,500. It gets better though-the fish you catch may be one of the extra special fish. Those guys could score you a boat, a truck, or a million dollars. Yes-your fish might be worth $1 million. Can we say best lake day ever???
Another cool thing is that those who choose to participate also get to be a part of the virtual fishing tournament. Again though-this is not like your normal fishing tournament. Basically, you catch a fish, and regardless of size, you upload the picture. They will have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place big fish winners, as well as weekly big fish winners. They will also have a random drawing every other week and select winners that way as well. It’s just another way you can win, and is something that anyone can do regardless of your fishing experience. Think of it as a way to even the playing field for everyone. I don’t have a fancy bass boat (at least I don’t until I catch that special fish that wins me one), and I’m still learning a lot about bass fishing. I may catch a fish, but it may not be the biggest. That’s ok though, because even if it’s not, there are still ways for me to win. In this game, I could even be fishing off of my dock and have a chance to compete against the pros and win.
I can’t stress enough though that the key to this is registering ahead of time. You can get your ticket and get registered by clicking here. If you don’t, and you catch a tagged fish, you get nothing. No-you can’t go and get registered after you catch your winning fish. That’s not even an option, and is not going to work for you. You have to do it ahead of time-at least 2 hours before you catch your winning fish. You also have to have a current Alabama fishing license. Make sure you check out the rules and know the process before you go out on your mission to find the prize winning fish. You can check those out here.
Another thing I really like is that a portion of the proceeds from the tickets goes to help high school fishing teams. These teams are often underfunded, and I think it is kind of cool to be a part of giving back to something that invests in our future anglers.
I’m not a professional angler by any means, but I do enjoy fishing. I know I am going to be grabbing my pole and hitting the lake this Summer anyway, and I also know I would be kicking myself if I caught one of these tagged fish, and then got nothing…..zero…..zilch. I’ve heard the tales of those this has happened to-and I refuse to let that be me. Can you even imagine that feeling? Reeling in that fish, and seeing that special tag that means at minimum, you would be $1,500 richer-IF you had registered ahead of time? Because I don’t want to experience that gut wrenching feeling, and because I think it just puts a little extra excitement in a day out on the water fishing, I am going to get registered. Why not? It’s my first summer on the lake, so maybe I will have some beginner’s luck. Worst care scenario, it encourages me to get out and do a little more fishing. That’s not too bad either, and a great way to spend a summer day.
There are so many adjectives people use to describe Lake Martin-beautiful Lake Martin, amazing Lake Martin, breathtaking Lake Martin, fun Lake Martin….. the list goes on and on. You may have even heard the term “Treasured” Lake Martin thrown around and thought that was just a great descriptive word for our wonderful lake as well. While we do treasure it dearly, there is a lot more to this term. We know how special our lake is, but this one phrase-Treasured Lake Martin-is one of many examples of just how special we are.
You see, treasured is not just a nice descriptive word used to characterize our lake, but is an actual designation bestowed upon Lake Martin. Not only is it pretty impressive that we have this designation, but what’s also cool is that we are the only lake to have this designation. Yep-our lake really is that special. We are Alabama’s only treasured lake. So, let’s talk about what makes us special and how we earned the right to call ourselves Alabama’s only treasured lake.
It all goes back over 10 years ago when Governor Bob Riley signed Executive Order #54 and established the Treasured Alabama Lakes designation in a special ceremony at Children’s Harbor on Lake Martin. The goal was for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to have a designation for lakes that met high water quality standards and have low nutrient enrichment. Lake Martin was chosen as the first lake to receive the designation-and to this day, it is still the only lake to receive this very special designation. Lake Watch of Lake Martin, and more specifically President Dick Bronson, was the catalyst for getting the designation passed. Dick stated during the dedication ceremony, “We’ve always known that Lake Martin was the cleanest lake in Alabama and this designation is verification of that belief. It’s also a testament to nearly 18 years of water quality monitoring by Lake Watch volunteers who were trained by Alabama Water Watch personnel at Auburn University.”
ADEM Director Lance LeFleur, Governor Bob Riley, Alabama Department of Tourism’s Lee Sentell, and Lake Watch members met on December 6, 2010 to discuss the proposed new designation that would be called “Treasured Alabama Lake.” This wasn’t a designation that would be handed out easily though-there were strict criteria that had to be met and this special designation would only be for lakes that have high water quality, exceptional recreational significance, state parks and wildlife refuges, and exceptional ecological significance. Lake Martin checked all of those boxes and excelled in each of those things. During that meeting, Governor Riley decided that Lake Martin should be designated as a “Treasured Alabama Lake” and he said that he would issue an Executive Order stating that. He did that on December 28, 2010.
At that time, Governor Riley said that the water in Lake Martin would never be degraded from where it was on that day. To this day, groups such as Lake Watch, Lake Martin HOBO, and Lake Martin Resource Association work tirelessly to keep our “Treasured Lake Martin” clean and pristine for generations to come.
I remember my first trip to Alexander City last February. I was talking to the locals and I kept hearing about the upcoming Plug Day. Everyone seemed so excited about it. I personally had never observed this occasion before, but was intrigued to learn more. I’m not one to play it off and pretend I know what someone is talking about. I couldn’t anyway-my facial expressions usually give that away. So, as my new friends looked at my confused face, I just came on out and asked-OK, so what is Plug Day? Do I get off of work for this day? Will there be cake in honor of Plug Day? Do we exchange gifts? Is there a celebration?
It turns out that this is a really joyous occasion. There’s a fun explanation to it, and a technical explanation. I will tell you a little about each so that when someone tells you “Happy Plug Day” you will know what it means and will look a lot less confused than I did that day.
Let’s start with the fun explanation! Credit for the fun part has to be given to Lake Magazine. They created this special little holiday to celebrate the start of the rising of the lake water-as Lake Martin transitions to what is called Summer Pool. Think of when you put a plug in a bathtub, and you see the water level start to rise-that is kind of what starts happening to Lake Martin on Plug Day. I know you are thinking it-because I certainly was too-and no, there is not an actual plug that makes it happen. (More on the how in the next paragraph that talks about the technical stuff.) However, it really does work the same way, and is cool to think of the virtual plug at the bottom of the lake as you see the water continue to rise over the next few weeks. The water level keeps rising for 50 days. During those 50 days, we celebrate everything about Lake Martin, and start to look forward to those Summer days out on the lake cruising around, hanging out on an island, swimming, or wakeboarding and skiing. It’s a time when we think about our memories from past Summer days on the lake, and start planning for the upcoming Summer. And even though there is not an actual plug that goes in the lake, there is an actual plug that you may see out and about around town during these 50 days to commemorate this special time.
Now, that I have ruined it for you and let the secret out that it’s not really a giant plug that is allowing the water to rise, let’s talk technical. This is the part you can impress your friends with. Alabama Power holds a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to operate Martin Dam. The terms of that license are determined by an environmental impact study that is about 400 pages long. We are certainly not going to get into all of that today, but I will give you the cliffs notes version. The current license says Alabama Power has to keep Lake Martin’s water at very specific levels-491 mean sea level feet in the Summer and 484 mean sea level feet in the Winter. The Summer levels and Winter levels are commonly referred to as Summer Pool and Winter Pool. As with anything, there are some exceptions that sometimes allow for drought, flood control, scheduled drawdowns for maintenance, and emergencies. Those levels are the norm most years though. FERC even tells Alabama Power the exact dates at which they must start making the transition between water levels. This is all controlled at an Alabama Power facility in Birmingham. March 1st at midnight is when the water level starts it’s rise to Summer Pool levels. At that time, it is 484 msl feet. They have to make sure that Lake Martin reaches Summer Pool levels-491 msl feet-by April 19th at midnight. That schedule of water level change is called the rule curve. If all things were perfect in nature, you could follow the rule curve and know exactly what the water level will be each day. If we’ve learned anything about nature though, we know that it can be unpredictable. We can get lots of rain, or no rain-you never know. Flood control is what affects the rule curve the most in the Spring. For example, Alabama Power could hold extra water in the Lake Martin reservoir to prevent downstream flooding. What we do know is that by April 19th, Lake Martin will be at full Summer Pool. You can always check the current level of the lake here. While the Plug Day excitement does continue for the full 50 days, most of us can’t contain ourselves that long, and if weather allows, we are already enjoying the lake fully by that time.
It was a crisp December afternoon as Stephen and I packed our bags and made our way down to our lake house, Pelican Point, eager to set out on our next big adventure. As many already know, winter time at Lake Martin is its own unique season. With the water level down and boats stored away until the return of warmer days, this is the perfect opportunity to explore some of the more “off-the-beaten-path” attractions that the lake has to offer. And today, that sense of adventure was bringing us to Lake Martin Machine Gun.
Stephen himself is an experienced firearm shooter, growing up hunting from a young age and an owner of several guns himself. I, on the other hand, had never really actually held a gun before – much less shot one. The idea of going straight from a beginning shooter to firing a machine gun was quite an intimidating thought I have to admit. However, I rarely turn down the opportunity to try something new, especially something this intriguing. As we continued our trip onward towards Eclectic, I really had no idea what to expect on this expedition.
It wasn’t long before we were pulling up to the gravel driveway of our destination. The location was easily spottable from the road, marked by an oversized sign with “Lake Martin Machine Gun” printed clearly across the front. We had passed this sign several times before, usually on our way to the old Harbor Docks restaurant or on a day trip out towards Stillwater. Every time we passed by it however, the sign continuously peaked our interest, more and more.
What is this place? What do they do here? Can you really shoot a machine gun?
Finally, our curiosity had gotten the better of us. We thought, what the heck…we’ll give it a shot. We didn’t know it yet, but as we turned down that gravel driveway, we were about to have one of the most memorable afternoons we had this year.
The driveway wound back through woods, revealing a clearing, parking lot, and a simple building. There was a sense of excitement in the air as we exited our car. Gunshots could be heard in the distance and the suspense was rising. This was it. We had arrived!
As Stephen and I made our way inside, we were instantly greeted with warm welcomes from the Lake Martin Machine Gun owners, David and Jodie McGirt. David enthusiastically gave us a detailed briefing on what we could expect during our trip that day, and what he referred to as the “Lake Martin Machine Gun Experience”.
The Lake Martin Machine Gun Experience
The Lake Martin Machine Gun Experience we learned is all about bringing history back to life. Established in 2016, the McGirts were on a mission to set themselves apart from other shooting ranges by creating a fun, safe environment where people can learn and experience history behind these firearms, reconnect with it, and most importantly – have a good time.
David furthered explained the rarity of the guns at LMMG that visitors are able to shoot. Machine guns are highly regulated in the United States, with only a limited amount available to the public. He went on to say many of the firearms in their collection normally would only be available to be viewed from behind a glass case or on a movie screen, but we would have the opportunity to see and handle them first hand. This immediately got our attention! This was already turning out to be so much more than we could have imagined.
The Lake Martin Machine Gun facility is made up of multiple shooting bays, including one specifically for pistols and rifles. The main range itself has a roof covering overhead to shelter visitors from any form of weather. It is also temperature controlled with heating and air conditioning – which I’m told is not always available at other shooting ranges.
Jodie also took us to tour a separate building outside, specifically designed for long range shooting. Here visitors have access to a different set of targets as well as the opportunity to sight in rifles, which especially comes in handy for hunters. However, to access the Long Range a visitor must sign in and out inside the facility, as well as be a known shooter to the staff.
As David and Jodie continued the tour around the facility, I immediately began to feel comfortable with my surroundings. It was growingly apparent that safety is their number one priority.
Machine Gun History 101
If there is one thing that separates this establishment from any other shooting range, it would be the history portion of the experience. David really came to life while he was teaching us about the different types of firearms and the evolution of each of them throughout time.
Listening to David speak was like walking through history itself. He gave the perfect blend of technical knowledge along with vibrant storytelling and historical depictions of the firearms and their uses, such as demonstrating the famous “Tommy Gun” that was commonly known to be used by Bonnie and Clyde. Interestingly enough, we learned that the Tommy Gun was what inspired many of the gun laws that we see still implemented today.
In total, David did an overview of approximately 15 different firearms, including a “British Bren”, the breakaway “PDW” used by Secret Service members, and the “Israeli Uzi” that Chuck Norris was famous for. He even showed us an MP44 from World War II, which is so rare that they are hardly available to even be seen in the world today. The best part? Visitors to Lake Martin Machine Gun have the opportunity to shoot some of these firearms themselves!
The historical aspect of our tour, and knowledge behind the guns we were about to shoot, was definitely a much appreciated addition to our visit. It created a unique twist that added value and awareness of just how cool this experience was that Lake Martin Machine Gun makes available to the public.
Shooting the Machine Guns: Fire Away!
At Lake Martin Machine Gun, the firearms themselves are handled by trained staff members. It seems like common sense, but that was actually quite a relief for me since I had never been to a shooting range before and I didn’t exactly know how all this worked.
The staff does what David referred to as all the “heavy lifting”, as they are all trained and knowledgeable in the handling of each of these firearms and can in turn insure a safe environment. David and one of his staff members loaded in all the ammo, set up the guns, and stood right beside us while we got into position to shoot. All we had to do was relax and have fun!
The first gun we shot was the MP5SD. This was incredibly exciting, as this is the type of gun that Navy Seals and Special Forces use. Very few people in the world actually get to shoot these… and yet here we are! David set the MP5SD up on a wooden platform that was made up of several different levels, with the purpose of stabilizing the gun and to keep us from having to hold up the firearm up ourselves, as some of them proved to actually be really heavy. It sure did give us a new appreciation for all the veterans who had to carry these during their service!
Stephen was up first to shoot. As he approached the firearm, David began to walk him through step by step of the process and what to expect next. Stephen’s first shot was a single bullet, allowing him to get the feel of the gun. Once comfortable, David gave Stephen the go ahead to fire away.
That’s when the fun set it. Bullets flew through the air as Stephen held down the trigger and really let loose! Afterwards he turned around, belly laughing and grinning from ear to ear. David said, “now that’s what we call the machine gun smile!”
After watching the blast Stephen was having, my excitement and adrenaline were running for sure!
David readjusted the firearm and propped the gun up on a level that was comfortable for my height. He continued to instruct me as I placed the gun against my shoulder and got into shooting position. Knowing I was new to all of this, he showed me where to place my hands on the gun and how to look through the scope, as well as coached me on my stance. His continuous instruction definitely made me feel confident and ready for this moment! As I prepared to take my first shot, I could feel my heart begin to race.
I put my finger on the trigger, peered through the scope, pulled back… and BAM! I laughed as I realized I had just shot my first bullet. And believe it or not, I actually hit a target. I was ecstatic. David switched me into position to actually fire off the machine gun and really “let loose”.
Words cannot describe how thrilling those next few seconds were as I shot through my round. It felt a bit like being in the movies. Stepping back, I was laughing just as hard – if not harder- than Stephen. The actual experience was simply exhilarating!
The Ma Deuce
We continued down the line of firearms, shooting several different ones including the famous Tommy Gun and the M60, which is what the troops carried all throughout Vietnam. And then we got to the grand finale and mother of them all – the Ma Deuce.
This iconic Browning .50 caliber machine gun was designed toward the end of World War I, with the official name of M2HB. ”HB” we learned stands for ”heavy barrel” and” M2” is referring to the model of the gun.
David joked, “as all things in the military with numbers, we had to give it a nickname. So this became The Ma Deuce.”
As much fun as we were having with the other firearms, I felt like it was building up to this moment. This one was hands down my favorite to shoot! This particular machine gun is mounted firmly to the ground with a wide open lane to shoot through to specialty targets, specifically designed to handle this caliber of ammo. If you come and only shoot one machine gun, I cannot emphasize enough the rush you will feel while shooting this one. There was no need to get fancy. It was all about letting loose, having fun, and tearing up some targets.
And as you can see, it made for a pretty cool light show too.
Memberships and Corporate Events
Lake Martin Machine Gun is a membership shooting range. David said there are only two rules to being a member at Lake Martin Machine Gun. “Be Safe and Be Nice,” he said in our interview. “If you can do those two things, you’re always going to be welcome here. It gives a nice, safe environment for people to practice and shoot in addition to the Machine Gun Experience – which is what we are most known for.”
The space is also available to rent for things such as corporate events and private parties. The owners said it is always a hoot for bachelors and bachelorettes to come cut loose as well as corporate outings, birthday parties, and everything in between.
The takeaway from all this is that Lake Martin Machine Gun is an experience for everyone. Also, shooting machine guns is an absolute BLAST.
The McGirts go above and beyond to create a safe, fun environment for people of every experience level to come in and confidently enjoy themselves, all while learning some neat history and shooting off rare firearms. Sounds awesome, right?
If you are as curious as we were, do not keep putting this one off. Ladies, grab your friends for a Girls Night Out. Fellas, bring your wife for a spicy date. Go grab Grandpa and bring him to have the time of his life! Simply put, it is a thrilling and unforgettable experience that we cannot recommend enough.
No, it’s not Halloween. Many people shiver at the thought of spiders. In Alabama, there are five species that are harmful including the black widow, the northern black widow, the brown recluse, the Chilean recluse and the Mediterranean recluse.
Brown Recluse Spider
Black Widow Spider
While most spiders produce venom to subdue their prey, few spiders have venom that presents a threat to humans. The brown recluse spider, the size of a quarter and identified by the violin shape on its back are native throughout the United States, including Lake Martin. They like to hide in dark secluded spaces that are dry and warm. When looking in your home, look for webbing around cardboard boxes, in shoes or drawers of clothes. Outside, they reside in wood piles and brush. Black Widows also reside in our community. Females feature a red hourglass on their abdomen and weave a thick tangled web. Widows dwell in quiet areas such as stumps, water meter boxes, sheds and lawn mowers. To avoid being bitten, reduce clutter in dark spaces, inspect and shake out linens, boots and clothes. When working outside, wear gloves and inspect equipment with a flashlight. Our team treated a gentleman who was bitten by a black widow when he sat on his tractor seat where a black widow was nesting. Spiders are not typically aggressive but if bitten, the toxins from the spider can trigger an inflammatory response and cause the tissue to die. People may have different reactions to the bite. Symptoms usually develop 2-8 hours after a bite. Initially the bite is mildly red but on closer inspection, may reveal fang marks. Within a few hours, it may blister, become more painful and develop a ring surrounding the area or have a “bull’s-eye” appearance. The best practice is to immediately use a marker to draw a circle around the perimeter of the wound to see if the redness or swelling continues to expand.
It is important to indentify the spider and understand its bite must be treated by a medical professional in a timely manner. The skin is your fortress. Waiting for a bite to “heal on its own” may only delay the painful healing process. Taking appropriate action is key. If you are extremely brave, bring the “slightly squashed,” dead spider in a bag with you to the doctor for proper identification.. If you are bitten, call the Russell Medical Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine clinic at 256-215-7450 so that our specialized wound care team can help start the healing process. There are effective treatment plans available to advance the healing process.
The biodiversity of species on Alabama’s Freshwater Coast is what makes our community incredibly rich in beauty. Many spiders are harmless. Because of their broad appetite, spiders prey on mosquitoes, flies and cockroaches thus reducing the numbers of other pests. One of the most exciting ways to learn more about species identification and wildlife in the lLake Martin area is to take an energetic guided tour with Russell Lands On Lake Martin Naturalist Marianne Hudson on the Russell Forest Trails. Marianne was recently awarded the Conservation Communicator of the Year by the Alabama Wildlife Federation. She served as the Assistant Director of the Southeastern Raptor Center and in 2017 joined the Alabama Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division as a Conservation Outreach Specialist. She leads highly educational tours in which she identifies a variety of plant and animal life, including the beautiful Golden Silk Orb Weaver Spider. To learn more about here nature hikes, go here.
Golden Silk Orb Weaver
Being vigilant can help keep your family safe and healthy!
Thank you to Russell Medical Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine for sharing this helpful information!
2020 has been quite the year, to say the least. We understand if you are not ready to travel yet, and we will be here ready to welcome you when you are. However, if you are ready to get out and explore, we want to help you find ways to do that in the safest way possible. Your health and safety is important to us, and we want you to be able to enjoy our great outdoors, attractions, restaurants, lodging, and everything else the Lake Martin area has to offer. The Alabama Tourism Department has put together information to help you Take It All In Responsibly. They have worked with local businesses and attractions around the state and asked them to take a pledge to make a commitment to keep YOU safe.
Some of the ones in our area that have signed the pledge are:
What does your ideal trip to Lake Martin look like? Ask anyone, and the answers you get could be completely different. For some, travelling with their close family members could equal perfection, while some prefer to bring the whole extended family along for the fun. Others may choose to leave the family at home, and make it a Girls Trip or Guys Getaway. Some may take an opportunity to have a romantic weekend with their special someone. But still there are those that just want to have peaceful, quiet alone time, surrounded by the tranquility of nature. There is no right or wrong answer to the question, but how you answer that question determines how you will pick out the perfect lodging option for your trip. It’s important to put some thought into this question to make sure you have the best trip ever when you visit Lake Martin. No worries though-there are plenty of great options of places to stay in the Lake Martin area-and there is an option for every possible travelling situation that you can think up.
Here are five things to think about before making a decision on where to stay on your next trip to Lake Martin:
Who all is coming along?
How long is your trip?
Will you be eating out or do you prefer to have the amenities of home and be able to prepare your own meals?
Does your dream trip involve waking up to the lake outside your door, or are you ok with driving a few minutes to see water?
Do you prefer a more luxurious or rustic experience, or are you looking for something unique?
The Hank Williams Cabin
If you answered unique on #5, this one is for you. You can experience a great spot in country music history, and stay at the Hank Williams Cabin. The music legend stayed in the cabin and composed the song “Kaw-liga” in August 1952, reaching #1 on the country music charts in 1953. The cabin was built in 1946 and was restored to it’s original condition in 2001 as a tribute to Hank Williams and his music. It looks just the way it did when Hank himself was there. The cabin is on the property of Children’s Harbor, a non-profit that provides free camps to seriously ill children. Money raised from rentals of the Hank Williams Cabin goes to help keep funding their mission of providing these opportunities for children.
Creekside Lodge and Conference Center-Dadeville, Alabama
There are a variety of hotels in the area-some even offering free breakfast. You probably won’t be doing a lot of cooking in your room, but there are plenty of great restaurants in Alexander City and Dadeville, and you could definitely eat out someplace different for every meal. If you want to explore our culinary diversity, a hotel is a great option for your trip no matter how many people are in your party, or who you are travelling with. Our hotels provide a comfortable stay and are frequently used by solo travelers, those traveling for business, sports teams, fishermen, families, and groups of friends. You can reach out directly to the properties to set up room blocks if you need more space for more people. With the exception of Creekside Lodge, most of our hotels are located in town, and are just a few minutes away from the lake. Really, here a few minutes means just that. You are never too far from water when you are here. You will also be just a couple of minutes away from Alexander City’s historic downtown, which is also something you are going to want to add to your list of things to do.
Do you prefer to have all of the luxuries of home available to you during your stay, and do you prefer to be able to prepare your meals at home? If so, a vacation rental in Lake Martin could be a good option for you. Houses and condos are available in all shapes and sizes, and many have lake access. While all are unique and offer different amenities, most offer all the things needed to prepare and serve any meal you would at home. Many also include washers and dryers so you can wash clothes if needed while on your trip. Some even include fishing equipment, car seats, strollers, games and toys, etc. These are really great for longer term stays since you will feel like you are at home, but can also be used for a weekend getaway. Just make sure you check to see if there is a minimum stay involved, as some may require that you stay 2 or more nights. Since they are all different, each will be able to accommodate a different amount of people. However, if you are travelling with others, and want to be able to all be together in a communal area, while still maintaining your own privacy, you will like the vacation rental atmosphere that usually offers a traditional living room and dining room, but separate bedrooms and often separate bathrooms. By using the online booking platforms, you have the ability to communicate directly with the owners. You can message back and forth and ask questions about the house or condo before you even book.
Mistletoe Bough Bed and Breakfast-Alexander City, Alabama
Paradise Bed and Breakfast on Lake Martin-Dadeville, Alabama
If you enjoy a unique travel experience or a romantic getaway, you may want to check out one of our beautiful Bed and Breakfasts in Lake Martin. Each of our bed and breakfasts offer a wonderful homemade breakfast to start your day. Mistletoe Bough Bed and Breakfast is located in downtown Alexander City. If you are a history buff, you will love this place-this Queen Anne mansion was built in 1895 and is on the National Historic Register. It has been restored to the feeling of that era, and is a beautiful step back in time. If you prefer to be on the water, Paradise Inn Bed and Breakfast on Lake Martin is a great option. They are located right on the lake, and offer complimentary use of a paddle boat, kayaks, floats, and fishing equipment. You can even bring your own boat and tie up to their private dock. If you are planning a romantic getaway, you would certainly make your sweetie’s day by choosing one of these. If you are travelling with more people though, talk to the management from either house about the possibility of renting multiple rooms.
With our area being known for the outdoors, we could not talk about places to stay at Lake Martin and not mention camping. Wind Creek State Park offers some of the best camping in the south. But let’s be honest, the term camping means different things to different people. RVing has become a favorite American pastime. RVers travel the land to find the coolest places to visit and camp, and we are so blessed that we have such wonderful camping in Alexander City. Wind Creek State Park is home to one of the largest state-operated campgrounds in the United States, having 586 campsites. 157 of those are waterfront and overlook the shores of Lake Martin. All campsites have water and electrical hook ups, and 268 sites have sewer hook ups. This is a great stop to put on your RV bucket list. If you like camping, but want to really experience the great outdoors by sleeping outside in it, you can do that, as tent camping is also allowed at Wind Creek State Park. However, there are some that don’t have an RV, and aren’t comfortable sleeping on the ground in a tent. That’s ok-for those of us who want to enjoy the outdoors, but in a more comfortable way, there are also cabins available for rent. The cabins overlook the water and are great for a family or friends getaway, as they have two queen beds and a sleeper sofa. Some of the cabins are also pet friendly, so you can bring the entire family-even the furry members of your crew. They allow you to have the waterside views and access, with the comforts of central heat and air, a microwave, toaster, refrigerator, and yes, a coffee maker. You will need that for those early mornings out on the water fishing. The one thing to know about the cabins before you go though is that you will need to bring your own bed linens, pillows, bath linens, and cooking and eating utensils.
Lake Martin is known for fun on the water, but did you know the area boasts some of the best hiking in Alabama as well? With the cooler weather, and the beautiful color palettes being displayed on the trees, now is a great time to hit the trails. Here are a few of our favorites!
In this living forest, over 100 miles of trails weave through the lush pines and hardwoods that surround Lake Martin. Five trailheads serve as a starting point for multiple trails that can be used not only for hiking, but also for biking and equestrian recreation. Download the trail map and explore the trails on your own, or take advantage of a guided hike with Russell Lands On Lake Martin’s own naturalist. Learn more here
The Alabama Reunion Trail is about 3.8 miles in length, and is rated moderate to difficult. It traverses both hardwood bottoms and pine forest. The trail is actually a loop with its beginning and end in close proximity. Several natural features can be noted, which include an old home site on the northern half, picturesque hardwood bottoms, stands of pine, beds of fern and an abundance of bird and animal life. The Campfire Trail is about 1.8 miles in length and is rated primarily moderate with several steep areas. This trail traverses both mixed hardwood forest and intermittent pine. Midway up the trail, a series of rock outcroppings occurs bordered by an abundance of ferns. Toward the end of the trail, a small stream bisects the path leading south. Stay longer and have a chance to check out these and other trails in the area-camping options, including lakeside cabins, are available at the park. Learn more here
This 4.2 mile loop trail is the most challenging of the trails created by the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association, but it is also the most rewarding. You also have the option to take the crossover route and hike only 3.1 miles. In addition to spectacular views of Lake Martin, the cliffs of the Tallapoosa River, the Needles Eye, and Jasmine Bluff are just a few of the unique rock formations that await the hiker. Learn more here
The trails at Smith Mountain Fire Tower lead you to a historic, restored fired tower that you can climb and have the best views in the area. Walker Bynum Smith Mountain Tower Trail is a steep 0.4 mile climb to the base of the tower. The total length is 1 mile roundtrip, but it will seem further due to rugged terrain. The Lakeshore Trail is 2.4 miles long, and makes a steep descent before winding gently along undeveloped shores of Lake Martin, returning to the parking lot through mixed hardwood/pine forest. The David M. Forker Island Hop/Boat Dock Trail is approximately 1.4 miles to the boat dock. When Lake Martin is lowered to winter pool levels, it is possible to walk another quarter mile, where you will cross a series of islands that are inaccessible at full pool. The return trail from the boat dock to the parking lot is approximately 1.2 miles. The Little Smith Mountain Loop Trail is 2.6 miles and is known for it’s view and rock formations. However, it is also the most difficult, as it goes along sheer cliffs. Learn more here