A Hidden Gem


By Hannah Lester


It’s spring — flowers are blooming, the weather is warmer and it’s time to get outside. And Opelika has picture-perfect opportunities.

One of these outdoor spots is the Caroline Dean Wildflower Trail and covered bridge, which is managed by the Lee County Master Gardeners.

“Some great, incredible volunteers that are very knowledgeable [put] a lot of time into the trail,” said Tipi Miller, director of Keep Opelika Beautiful. “It is a loop through, it’s city property, and it’s just a loop. It’s very well-maintained. It’s not like it’s a trail you have to find, it has a fence around it and everything.

“Everything within that Caroline Dean Wildflower Trail is native. So, they have a great variety of things.”

Miller said that lots of people take photos on the trail — whether it be for senior pictures or wedding photographs.

“Keep Opelika Beautiful received a grant to do some plantings on the covered bridge and just make it more attractive,” Miller said. “We got rid of some invasive species over there and then planted about 15 native azaleas, as well as 16 black-eyed Susans and nine distylium, just trying to make it more of an inviting area.

“But, when I go down there and either weed or water, I’m just amazed at how many families walk through that area … It’s just a little hidden gem that I think a lot of people don’t know about but it’s definitely something we should be proud of in Opelika.”

Billie Oliver, master gardener with the Lee County Master Gardners, was instrumental in getting the project started, Miller said.

“It started with some donations from Caroline Dean, who lived in Opelika and passed away many years ago,” Miller said.

Some of the azaleas on the trail were transplanted from Dean’s garden.

Miller said that maybe in the future, one of the goals would be an outdoor classroom space.

“There’s a lot of opportunity,” she said. “It’s just, with anything, we plant a lot and then you have to weed it and water it and it’s a constant work. But that’s good, that’s what people enjoy to see for sure.

“… It is so quiet and peaceful down there. Those are the two things that really come back to me.”

The trail is located in Municipal Park, Opelika, which is also known as Monkey Park (Park Road, Opelika).


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