Conecuh National Forest Overview
No question about it, Conecuh National Forest is Deep South. Situated just above the Florida panhandle, the forest has a distinct southern flavor of mist-laden hardwood swamps, pitcher plant bogs, and southern coastal plain pine forest. These hilly coastal plains are also home to longleaf pine, upland scrub oak, and dogwood, as well as an aquatic labyrinth of winding creeks and cypress ponds.
Clear-cut in the 1930s, the Conecuh was reforested with slash pine that reduced the number of nesting trees for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. The forest is currently undergoing a reforestation from slash pine to the native longleaf. In time, this should increase the number of red-cockaded woodpeckers as the trees mature.
Hike the Conecuh Trail
The 20-mile Conecuh Trail meanders through a lush forest of dogwood, holly, longleaf pine, magnolia, and cypress. Keep your hands to yourself as you wander past carnivorous pitcher plants. Access the trail on Highway 137, on Covington County Road 24, Open Pond Recreation Area, and at Blue Pond Recreation Area. Open Pond Recreation Area offers the best parking facilities for your gasoline-powered chariot.
Spy on Slithering Serpents
The Conecuh is a reptilian oasis that shelters the alligator, eastern indigo snake, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, the Florida pine snake, and the dusky gopher frog. At Nellie Pond, the gopher tortoise burrows into nearby sandhills; during the summer months, when the pond dries up, the dusky gopher frog seeks shelter in the tortoise burrows to survive the searing heat.
Birdwatch in the Bog
The Conecuh's unique bog ecosystem serves as a refuge for an extraordinary number of bird species. The best time to go birding is in April, May, and June, amidst the flowering dogwoods, water lilies, pitcher plants, and orchids. The bog shelters the red-cockaded woodpecker, common moorhen, Bachman sparrow, purple gallinule, and the green-backed heron.
Canoe the Blackwater River
Canoe nearly 50 miles of the remote and shallow Blackwater River as it flows ever so slowly along banks of wildflowers, overhanging magnolia, and river cedar. This sandy-bottom river is born in Alabama's Conecuh National Forest and meanders into Florida's Blackwater State Forest. The average speed is five miles per hour, with no whitewater but plenty of black water—the tannin-tinted waters are stained like black coffee, and juxtaposed with brilliant white sandbars that you'll swear are made of sugar.
Camp at Open Pond
Camp along a 30-acre pond stocked with bass, catfish, bream, and bluegill. At this 55-site campground, you'll find a swimming beach and two fishing piers on the pond. You can also access the 20-mile Conecuh Hiking Trail, or for a more casual stroll, an unnamed trail loops around the pond. To get there: From Anadalusia, Alabama, take U.S. Rte. 29 south for 9.7 miles to the Blue Lake-Open Pond sign (State Rte. 137). Turn left onto State Rte. 137 and go south for 1.1 miles to the National Forest Open Pond Recreation sign. Turn left at the sign and go 0.3 mile to another National Forest Open Pond Recreation sign (Forest Rte. 336). Turn right onto Rte. 336 and follow signs to campground.
Move on to U.S. National Forest Campground Guide
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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