A great blue heron soars over Cypress Creek.

Cypress Creek flows toward the bridge on Waterloo Road. On the last day of winter, we paddled our kayaks 8.4 miles in 2.5 hours from Cox Creek Parkway to Alabama 20. The free-flowing creek is runnable from Lauderdale County 6 to the Tennessee River. It drops to lake level about a mile or so before Alabama 20, but otherwise makes for easy downstream paddling.

Cliffs line Cypress Creek before the water drops into Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee River. 

Redbud trees bloom along the bluffs of lower Cypress Creek, near Florence, Alabama, as winter turns to spring in the Tennessee Valley. We see deer, herons, bald eagles, muskrats, kingfishers, geese, ducks and other wildlife as the creek flows through wild areas as well as past some of the most striking waterfront homes in Lauderdale County.

Layers of cypress groves decorate the backwaters of the Tennessee River near a cave-fed spring on Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge.

Wayne Williams shoots a Class II rapid on Cypress Creek.

High bluffs frame Cypress Creek on the last day of winter.

Riding the South

The blog of Scott and Jenny Morris

Fine winter turns

to fickle spring

By Scott Morris

Snowflakes fell as I mowed the lawn during the first weekend of spring 2016.

The self-propelled Honda paced me between blooming shrubs and dark-green shoots of wild onions while a brisk north wind scattered bright yellow pollen.

I have lived long enough to know the Tennessee Valley is no respecter of seasons, yet the fickle weather still keeps life interesting.

The now-past winter was a fine one in the South this year if, like me, you love the outdoors. We were able to paddle our kayaks and ride our bicycles, limited more by time and schedules than winter weather.

I particularly enjoyed the last couple of weeks. Here are recent photos from Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge and Cypress Creek near Florence, Alabama.

Mountain biking on Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge.

A cypress grove near Coffee Slough and Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge.