Perch Creek makes up the last mile of the Peninsula community. The City of Mobile's coastal wetlands need protection and the community needs visitors to travel its length while valuing its beauty. The original Perch Creek Nature Trail & Preserve project was added to the Alabama Coastal Restoration Project Suggestion Portal by the Peninsula of Mobile in 2014 following a community meeting held in the fall of the previous year. The plan aimed at two things: Creating a low-impact recreational destination point at the south end of the peninsula to spark low impact economic redevelopment of the struggling, little-known coastal community while preserving the City of Mobile's remaining coastal wetlands. Shortly thereafter, the City of Mobile created a Wetland Acquisition Program pooling other related preservation projects together for potential financing. Now, Project 234 has grown and is in its second round of funding and includes a 2.4 million dollar Expansion of Helen Wood Park & Preserve including the redevelopment of Alba Beach - a small-sized area of beach north of the parks preserve.
The first 3.5 miles of this portion of DIP is a mixture of commercial and residential properties. Throughout the community are six creeks and streams that meander their way toward the River, the largest being Perch Creek whose headwaters begin over two miles upstream. Around the 4.5 mile marker to the west, the Creek cuts its way across DIP and connects to the River. A few residential neighborhoods are tucked in among coastal oaks and pines lining river, creek and bay shorelines. It's sensitive, tidally influenced marshes and flats where the brackish water of the Bay meets the fresh waters of Dog River. Before that convergence happens, miles of sensitive wetlands lie on both sides of the narrowing landmass along the shorelines of the creek, the river and the bay acting as sponges to rising tides while slowing and cleansing urban stormwater from up river before it reaches the nursery grounds of Mobile Bay. The area is rich in wildlife. Whether its tall shorebirds or tiny migrating hummingbirds making their way via the North American bird and butterfly migration routes, Red Fox or American Alligator, West Indian Manatee or Bald Eagle, they all find food and refuge among the quiet wetlands.
It's About Connecting Trails
Some call it Passive Recreation or Nature-Based Recreation, no matter what name is used, outdoor recreation offers economic opportunities that needs little hardscape. And whether its a bike trail, a canoe/kayak trail, or the ever popular birding, the Peninsula has them all. The Crepe Myrtle Trail is a bay-side bike path that currently connects Doyle Park to McNally Park where two launches await to enter the Perch Creek part of the Dog River Scenic Blueway This area is also where cyclists make the transition from the bay-side to the western "Dog River Loop" part of the increasingly popular trail. And, since the final mile of the land mass is filled with wetlands and the natural ecosystems they provide, the area is alive with wildlife so much so that in 2018, the Perch Creek part of the Blueway was officially added to the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail.
L- Perch Creek / Dog River Scenic Blueway. Above - Perch Creek from Dog River to its headwaters.
And Connecting People Back to Mobile’s Waters
Photo – Residents from throughout Mobile County enjoy fishing from the boardwalk at Helen Wood Park.