- Alabama's four national forests, the Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega, and Tuskegee National Forests are administratively combined to encompass over 664,000 acres of public land. Surprisingly, this Deep South state actually has peaks over 2,000 feet tall. Many of them are within the National Forests in Alabama. These Forests stretch across portions of the Cumberland Plateau, Appalachian Mountains, Piedmont and Coastal Plain. These diverse lands range in elevation from over 2,000 feet in the Talladega National Forest, down to only 100 feet above sea level in the Conecuh National Forest. This area is so special to the state, it is often called "Alabama's Largest Natural Treasure".
Copyright: USDA Forest Service
Alabama mountain scenery on the National Forests of Alabama
High overlooks, rolling hills, and tree-studded flat land are among the contrasting terrains in the forests. Hikers enjoy an extensive network of trails, with some of the pathways crisscrossing two designated wilderness areas. There are roads for quiet drives with far-reaching scenic views and special walk-in areas designed for seeing wildlife. Boaters and water skiers can enjoy large, clean lakes, which have enough quiet coves to satisfy anglers as well.
Two wilderness areas are within the four national forests. The 25,002-acre Sipsey Wilderness in the Bankhead National Forest, is the second largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi. The 7,245-acre Cheaha Wilderness in the Talladega National Forests offers high elevations, with numerous overlooks for panoramic views of east-central Alabama.
Recreation - An assortment of recreation experiences are available to the many users who visit the four national forests each year. Whether it's camping, hiking, hunting, horseback riding, Off-Road Vehicle/ATV trails, bird-watching, bicycling riding, swimming, fishing, boating, sightseeing, or just enjoying the beauty of native plants, you'll find all that and more on the National Forests in Alabama.
Developed campgrounds and Recreation areas are scattered throughout the Forests. With few exceptions, dispersed camping is permitted in the general forest area except during the gun deer hunting season. At that time, camping is restricted to designated areas, or by special permit that can be obtained at the district office. Primitive dispersed camping is permitted in the Sipsey Wilderness without special permit requirements for forest users who are not hunting. A limited number of individual camping sites are available for advance reservations at Clear Creek Recreation Area.
Some 319 miles of developed trails are available to hikers through the Pinhioti Trails System in Talladega National Forest, the Conecuh Trail in Conecuh National Forest, Bartram Trail in the Tuskegee National Forest and the newly expanded trail system in the Bankhead National Forest. The largest project, in the Bankhead National Forest, added 82 miles of recreational trails to the 71 miles already in the forest. Included in the most recent trails project are trails for hiking only, some for bicycle riding, horseback riding and one for all-terrain vehicles.
Mountain biking is permitted on all national forest roads, in the general forest area, behind closed gates, on ORV trails, and on horse trails. Mountain bikes are prohibited in the wilderness areas and on all hiking trails.
Climate - The climate of Alabama's lowlands can be described as subtropical with nearly 60 inches of rain each year. The highest amount of rain reaches the region as afternoon thunderstorms in July, August and September. Summers are extremely hot and humid with temperatures frequently reaching above 100 degrees F. Summer nights cool slightly and provide a good time to travel through the region.
Winter temperatures are mild, rarely dipping below 40 degrees with the humidity level at its lowest in November and December. Spring and fall are very pleasant times to visit the region. Spring brings mild temperatures and blooming trees and flowers. During the fall temperatures range from 65 to 85 degrees F with low humidity levels. Northern Alabama is generally cooler than the south due to its higher elevations.
The National Forests of Alabama are scattered in five segments across the state. All four Forests are headquartered in Montgomery, with individual forest offices across the state. The Talladega National Forest offices are located in Centreville, Heflin and Talladega, in central and eastern Alabama.