Description - 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 NF, down to only 100 feet above sea level in the Conecuh NF.
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 NF, is the second largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi. The 7,245-acre Cheaha Wilderness in the Talladega NF 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, birdwatching, bicycling riding, swimming, fishing, backpacking, hiking, 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 and state parks. 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 NF, the Conecuh Trail in Conecuh NF, Bartram Trail in the Tuskegee NF and the newly expanded trail system in the Bankhead NF. 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 mountain biking, horseback riding and one for all-terrain vehicles.