Paul M. Grist State Park is located near the city of Selma in Dallas County. Originally established as Valley Creek State Park in the early 1930s, the park was renamed by the Alabama State Legislature after Paul Malone Grist, an active local community leader and long-time YMCA director. Construction of facilities at the park began in 1936, when a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was established within the current park boundaries. From 1936 to 1939, the CCC workers built park roads, trails, and the dam that impounds the park's lake. In 2009, the park had 2,400 visitors, annual operating expenses of $177,000 and a staff of three people.
The park's 1,080 wooded acres surround the 100-acre impounded Paul Grist Lake, which is stocked with bass, bluegill, red-ear sunfish, and catfish. Fishing tackle, supplies, and artificial bait, as well as drinks and refreshments are available at the park office. Flat-bottom fishing boats are available for rent, and the lake has a launch area for privately owned boats. Gas-powered motors are prohibited, but electric trolling motors may be used. A designated swimming area with sloping grassy banks abuts the lake, and picnic tables and public restrooms are located nearby. Recreational opportunities include swimming, fishing, boating, picnicking, hiking, and camping.
Day-use facilities at the lake include barbecue grills, picnic tables, and several pavilions for large groups. Two hiking trails provide short excursions into the surrounding forest. Located on the 100-acre lake, the campground has a bathhouse as well as 11 recreational vehicle sites with sewer, water, and electrical hookups. Six modern campsites overlook the lake, which is surrounded by southern pines and hardwoods, and primitive sites also are available for camping.