Discover Alabama’s Largest Forest (And What Lives In It)
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While the answer may come as a surprise, the largest forest in Alabama is located just outside of Alabama’s largest city. Alabama is full of mountains due to its proximity to the Appalachian Mountains and offers wet summers, scenic drives and beautiful mountain peaks filled with recreational opportunities. But where exactly is the largest forest in Alabama and what can you do in that place?
In this article, we’ll dive into the history, wildlife, and recreation of Alabama’s largest forest: the Talladega National Forest. From hiking to fishing and everything in between, this large forested area of Alabama has so much to offer the average outdoor enthusiast. Let’s talk about Talladega National Forest including all the animals you might see there!
The largest forest in Alabama: Talladega National Forest
The three ranger districts in Talladega National Forest include Talladega, Oakmulgee, and Shoal Creek Districts.
At nearly 400,000 acres, the Talladega National Forest is the largest forest in the state of Alabama. In fact, this forested region consists of multiple state and national forests with 3 different ranger districts and hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. In fact, most of these visitors are local Alabama residents seeking the great outdoors. This is especially possible for the average Alabama resident since these forests are in close proximity to major cities.
The three ranger districts in Talladega National Forest include Talladega, Oakmulgee, and Shoal Creek Districts. These sites manage different parts of the forest themselves, and there’s even a state park located within those 400,000 acres that is managed separately!
Not only can you enjoy countless hikes in Talladega National Forest, but there is also fishing, waterfalls, mountain views and overlooks, and much more. This forested region is unique in that it is located in the East Gulf Coastal Plain region, a stretch of low-lying plains and low mountains found in several states.
Talladega National Forest History
While much of the Talladega National Forest was mined and logged in the 1900s, you can learn a lot about its rich history when you visit today.
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Unlike many national forests in the United States, the Talladega National Forest was established late than average. President Theodore Roosevelt was instrumental in establishing our Forest Service and many of our national forests and parks in the early 1900’s. However, Talladega National Forest was not purchased by the federal government until approximately 1936, under the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt.
Talladega National Forest has a history of timber and timber industries, as well as agriculture. The primary reason this forest was established as a protected region was that much of Talladega had suffered from fallow farmland and cleared old growth forests. In fact, very few old-growth forests remain in Talladega National Forest, with most trees being newly planted in comparison.
Because the history of the Talladega National Forest technically begins long before the 19th century. Occupied by the Muscogee and Creek Nations for thousands of years, this region of Alabama served as an ancestral home for the Native peoples. While much of the Talladega National Forest was mined and logged in the 1900s, you can learn a lot about its rich history when you visit today.
Recreation in Talladega National Forest
With over 30 different mountains in this park, you will never run out of amazing views!
There are many things to do in Talladega National Forest, which probably accounts for its popularity with locals and visitors alike. While the mountain peaks in this region rival some of the tallest mountains in the United States, the Talladega National Forest still offers visitors the opportunity to climb a mountain and enjoy the view. With over 30 different mountains in this park, you will never run out of amazing views!
The same goes for the lakes and rivers in Talladega National Forest. Lake Chinnabee and Coleman Lake offer fantastic fishing and boating opportunities. Plus, many river hikes take visitors past beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes, giving you plenty of opportunities to cool off among these Appalachian ridges.
Finally, you can hunt, camp and enjoy many information centers in this national forest. Due to the low altitude of the entire region, most outdoor activities and hikes are well suited for the whole family. Plus, with the metropolitan areas so close, you’re never far from your cozy place to stay (especially if you plan on camping)!
Wildlife in the largest forest in Alabama
Talladega National Forest System rangers recommend the Coleman Lake Recreation Area for wildlife viewing, as well as a few other less populated spots.
With hundreds of different species coexisting in the ecosystems of Talladega National Forest, there are plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities should you decide to visit. Talladega National Forest System rangers recommend the Coleman Lake Recreation Area for wildlife viewing, as well as a few other less populated spots.
Some of the most popular wildlife species to see in Talladega National Forest are: