From any open spot along the Greenway, you will see steep hills and mountain slopes on either side of the valley. This is classic terrain of the Southern Sandstone Ridges level IV ecoregion of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. This ecoregion is known for its long, sandstone-capped ridges, which loom above narrow accompanying valleys. This is one of four level IV ecoregions nested within Alabama’s portion of the Ridge and Valley level III ecoregion.
In pre-settlement times, both the valley floor and the ridges were blanketed with forest and woodland. Depending on how often they burned due to lightning-sparked wildfire, the ridges would have supported woodlands of Longleaf Pine, Shortleaf Pine, or oak and hickory. Having more moisture, the low slopes of the valley and the floodplain along Shades Creek would have burned rarely, probably only during an extended drought.