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flowers near welcome sign at paul grist state park in selma alabama

A flowery welcome to Paul Grist State Park. Photo: Park Facebook page

Seventeen miles north of historic downtown Selma lies a peaceful wooded park nestled around the lake. This park, Paul Grist State Park, provides locals and visitors with year round access to fishing, boating, hiking, wildlife watching and camping.

This Alabama state park, originally known as Valley Creek State Park, was developed during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC constructed the original park roads, trail system and the lake dam.

Some years later the park’s name was changed to honor Paul Malone Grist, a longtime resident of Selma.


Paul Grist State Park is a great destination for a day trip or to camp out for a few nights. The park’s comfortable day use area has tables, grills, pavilions and a playground. And the beach is close by for a relaxing day on the lake – swim, float or rent a paddle boat.

Here are some more activities that you can do at Paul Grist State Park:

Fishing at Paul Grist State Park

Paul Grist State Park is an angler’s dream. Not only is the lake stocked with bass, bluegill, redear sunfish and catfish, but there is ample shoreline for bank fishing. And, of course, an entire lake if you’d rather fish from your boat.

If you discover that you need fishing hooks or weights you can pick those up in the Park Office along with drinks and refreshments.
Remember to get a fishing license before you head to the park. Licenses can be purchased online here.

Boating at Paul Grist State Park

Enjoy a day on the lake during your stay at Paul Grist State Park. Bring your own boat or other watercraft or rent one there. The park offers boat rentals of canoes, pedal boats and flat bottom Jon Boats.

No gas motored boats are allowed on the lake but electric powered boats are ok. A boat launch is available and boats are not permitted in the swimming area. Each boater must have a life jacket and children under 8 must wear theirs at all times while on the water.

Swimming at Paul Grist State Park

Paul Grist State Park has a grassy beach area next to the lake for your enjoyment. There’s plenty of space to relax in the sun, swim or float and have lunch in the adjacent picnic area.

Trails at Paul Grist State Park

More than 20 miles of trails spread throughout Paul Grist State Park winding through the hardwood and pine forest and around the lake. The trails are especially beautiful in the Fall when the leaves change color.

Walking, hiking and horseback riding are popular here year round. Be aware that if you want to ride you must bring your own horse as horse rentals are not available inside of the park.

One popular trail here is the Paul Grist Lake Loop, an easy 3.6 mile path beside the lake. Keep in mind that sometimes this trail can be wet or muddy and dress accordingly.

For more trails visit nearby Old Cahawba Prairie Preserve. They have more than 11 miles of trails to explore, through the pines and across the prairie.

Wildlife at Paul Grist State Park

Paul Grist State Park lies on the Alabama Black Belt Birding Trail.

With so many species of native and migrating birds in this area you’re likely to see lots of waterfowl, songbirds and raptors in the park. You’ll also see white-tailed deer, raccoon, wild turkey, squirrels, rabbits and foxes while walking along the trails or camping in the wooded areas around the park.

Camping at Paul Grist State Park

Paul Grist State Park has 11 modern RV campsites with full connections for water, electricity and sewer. These peaceful sites have a spectacular view of the lake.

The park also has a few primitive sites situated beneath the southern pines and hardwoods. A bathhouse that is also handicapped accessible is conveniently located nearby.

Pets at Paul Grist State Park

Pets are welcome but must be crated, caged or leashed (no longer than 6 feet). Dogs on a leash are allowed in the campground area and on the trails but not in the bathhouse and swimming area.

Attractions Near Paul Grist State Park

Visit Selma. Take a day trip into town and discover Selma’s rich history, do a little shopping and taste some down home southern cooking.

And while you’re there check out Selma’s Old Town Historic District. It’s the largest historic district in Alabama and dates back to the early 1800s. Stop by the Center for Commerce and take a tour of some of these 1,200 historic structures.

Next head over to The Old Depot Museum at 4 Martin Luther King St. Here you can learn about the town’s Civil Rights history through their interpretive displays. This informative and interesting museum is housed inside of an 1891 railway depot.

Old Cahawba Archaeological Park – 9518 Cahaba Road. Cahawba was Alabama’s first capital (1819-1826). It was abandoned shortly after the Civil War and today is considered an important archaeological site. This ghost town full of picturesque ruins also has a visitor center, picnic area and trails.

Are you looking for more opportunities to fish, boat or nature watch? Check out these state parks, each only an hour’s drive from Selma.

  • Roland Cooper State Park – Located an hour south of Paul Grist State Park, in Camden. They also have fully furnished cabin rentals.
  • Chickasaw State Park – This state park, in Gallion, also has 6 miles of scenic trails to explore.

Park Location

Paul Grist State Park
1546 Grist Road
Selma, AL 36701
Phone: 334.872.5846

For reservations call the park office. The Alabama State Parks and Dallas County are in partnership with the management of Paul Grist State Park. The county commission manages and accepts campground reservation.



Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Paul Grist State Park: