The 1080-acre Paul M. Grist State Park is surrounded by mature, thick pine-oak forests. With many different types of wildlife in the area, visitors are likely to encounter a number of animals during their stay. The park is home to birds, foxes, raccoon, deer, and other wildlife. The 100-acre lake is full of plenty of fish, making the state park a great destination for anglers.
The park was named after Paul M. Grist who was a resident of Selma, Alabama. He organized some of the South's first basketball camps and also was the general secretary of the YMCA for 45 years. In 2015, the Alabama legislature agreed to shut down completely or limit the time open of some state parks due to budget cuts. Paul M. Grist State Park was selected as one of the state parks to be shut down and was closed in October. Then two months later, in December 2015, the park reopened after the Dallas County Commission leased the park from the state.
Open year-round, there are many activities and amenities for visitors to enjoy. The 11 campsites with full hookups provide RV guests with lake views being located right on the waterfront. Once you get settled in at camp, head down one of the many trails within the state park. On a hot day, go boating in the lake or take a dip at the swimming area. If planning a group gathering, there are picnic areas and pavilions available.
The temperatures vary from mild to hot throughout the year. The average temperature during the summer months can creep into the 90s, making it the perfect time to head down to the lake to cool off. During the winter, daytime averages are a mild temperature right around 60, perfect for enjoying the many miles of trails. There really isn’t a bad time to visit this state park.
Paul M. Grist State Park is located about 15 minutes northeast of the small city of Valley Grande, Alabama. For those using a GPS, the coordinates to reach the park are 32.598 and 86.991.
You'll find that the roads within the state park are paved. The parking pads for RVs and trailers are spacious and level. You should have room for both your rig and vehicle at your campsite.
The hiking trails and other amenities can easily be accessed from the campground. The campsites are centered around the lake activities and trails. All amenities are a short walk or bike ride away. Parking is also available nearby.
The larger city and county seat of Dallas County is Selma, which can be reached after about a 30-minute drive. If looking for a day trip or outing, Selma has museums to visit which include the Old Depot Museum and the National Voting Rights museum. Many historic homes are within the city as well.
One of the main attractions to visitors at the state park is the lake. Those visiting with RV and travel trailers will get to enjoy lakefront campsites. There are eleven campsites at the state park and all have full hookups, including sewer. Reservations can be made over the phone prior to your stay.
A fire ring and picnic table are located at each campsite. Other park amenities include picnic areas, as well as reservable pavilions for large group gatherings, a boat launch, and a bathroom.
Park guests are welcome to bring their dogs with them. Dogs are not allowed in park buildings or the swimming area. Guests must keep their dog on a leash at all times. Dogs are welcome out on the trails, but please do pick up after your pet. The trails are easily accessed from the camping area.
The 100-acre lake is great for boating. There are boat rentals available within the park. Paddles and life jackets are included with the cost of each rental. A boat launch is located near the boat rentals and swimming area in the park. Note that no gas-run motors are allowed on the lake, however, electric trolling motors are permitted. No boats, even paddle-boats, are allowed in the swimming area.
Anglers will have a great fishing opportunity during their visit to the park. Bass, bluegill, sunfish, and catfish may be caught from the lake’s water. Fishing hooks and weights are available in the park office if you lose or forget yours. Fishing is included in the state park's daily admission fee.
There is a designated swimming area located between the boat launch and boat rentals. With its grassy banks, the swim area is a great place to lounge around on a hot, spring or summer afternoon. Wade, swim or float around in the refreshing lake water. Swim at your own risk as there is no lifeguard on duty.
Paul M. Grist State Park is popular to both equestrians and hikers. It has over 15 miles of interconnecting trails with many different starting points located throughout the park. Trek past the lake and dam, through the thick pine-oak forest. You’ll see a number of different types of birds and vegetation along the trails.
The thick pine-oak foliage surrounding the park and lake provides stunning colors throughout most of the year. In the spring and summer months, the trees will be colored in bright, beautiful shades of green. In the fall, vibrant autumn colors including shades of yellow and orange are a gorgeous site for visitors to see.
Geocaching is a popular activity at Paul M. Grist State Park. With decent mobile phone service, you shouldn’t have any issue using your geocache app. If you plan to take the object found be sure to leave a new treasure in its place. This activity will quickly fill an afternoon with treasure hunting throughout the park and trails.