As one of the best views in the area, this site is leaps and bounds above the rest. Lover’s Leap located on Shades Crest Road next to Tip Top Grill is a large set of limestone boulders that jut out over the valley.
The history behind this site is an interesting one. One of Alabama’s first legislators, Thomas W. Farrar, came to the site and camped for several days with his new bride on what he then called Sunset Rock.
The Farrar’s were on their way from their New Orleans’ wedding to their new home in Elyton. It is here where he carved the first four lines of “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”, a poem by Lord Byron.
“To sit on the rocks, to muse o’er flood an fell, to slowly trace the forest’s shady scene where things that own not man’s dominion dwell, and mortal foot hath ne’er or rarely been.” – Thomas W. Farrar 1827
Lover’s Leap has long been a place for couples to visit and carve their names in the rocks. One of the oldest photos of Lover’s Leap is dated 1909 from the Hale family archives (Founding family of Hale Springs/Bluff Park).
Back to the poem
Farrar later founded and served as Grand Master of the first Masonic Lodge in Alabama. In the early 30s, the inscribed rock was removed and presented to the Masonic Lodge in Elyton, which is named after Farrar.
The original rock was moved to the McCarty-Farrar Lodge in Mt. Olive, Alabama, where it was proudly displayed. Pictured above is the original rock with the original inscription on display in Mt. Olive.
In 1935, the site was donated to the public by Jonas W. Schwab. A historical marker was placed by the Shades Crest Garden Club in 1973. Residents Thomas W. Martin and George B. Ward gave a replica of the carving to the site, which is now protected by a new wrought iron fence that was erected in 2004.
Today, visitors can walk the path to see inscriptions left by past visitors who left their own legacy carved in the rocks. The carvings have weathered with time. Many that could clearly be seen just a few years ago now have moss and growth filling the names and dates. The site definitely needs a good cleaning. Some simple landscaping clean up and branch trimming would open views across the valley in the spring and summer. The carvings would likely need to be cleaned by a professional with skills in such preservation. Even the historic marker needs a good polishing.
A member of the Hoover Historical Society contacted me about a possible cleanup at the site. This would be a wonderful project, and I am sure the community would pitch in and help in anyway the society would need. I will be sure to give any updates if this becomes reality.
The five photos of carvings above were taken in 2019. The three photos of carvings below were taken in 2007 and could not be found when the 2019 photos were taken this month.
Continuing with our history
Although the Farrar’s did not take a leap off the rocks, one legend that centers on the second set of boulders does. The rocks to the right of Lover’s leap, just under Tip Top Grill, center on an old Creek Indian legend. It tells of an Indian brave who, tired of the love of a tribal princess, stabbed her on the rock and then jumped with her in his arms out of his regret for killing her.
Tragic leaps aside, this is a wonderful place in Bluff Park to take a quick lunch and enjoy the view or to take a picnic with your special someone for a romantic afternoon. The blooms of spring and warm weather ahead are worth a few snapshots as well.
For people who participate in Geocaching – just plug in coordinates N 33 degrees 24.722′ W 086 degrees 51.457 to your GPS and find a hidden cache around the area.