Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge

Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge

Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge
Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge

Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge, located in Bibb County Alabama, is one of nation’s newest National Wildlife Refuges, the 540th in fact. Established September 25, 2002 for the purpose of protecting and managing a unique section of the Cahaba River and land adjacent to it. Cahaba River NWR is home to five federally listed species including the Cahaba shiner, goldline darter, round rocksnail, and cylindrical lioplax snail.


The Cahaba River itself stretches for almost 200 miles and is Alabama’s longest free-flowing stream. The river currently supports 64 rare and imperiled plant and animal species, 13 of which are found nowhere else in the world. The river has more fish species at 131 than any other river its size in North America. Over seven miles of the Cahaba lie within the approved acquisition boundary. The rolling uplands surrounding the river are forested with mountain longleaf and loblolly pines. Mixed upland hardwood species line ravines and the river’s edge.

The largest known stand of the imperiled shoals lily (known locally as the Cahaba lily) also occurs within the Refuge. During summer months, this beautiful plant blooms and people come from across the region to view this magnificent display of nature. There is even an annual Cahaba lily festival that draws thousands of visitors to the area the last Saturday in May.

Getting There . . . 
Cahaba River NWR is located in Bibb County, Alabama, approximately six miles east of West Blocton on County road 24. River access is provided by a gravel road on the south (right) side of Bibb County Road 24 approximately 250 yards past the refuge entrance sign.

There is presently but a single road that traverses the Cahaba National Wildlife Refuge, and after the first quarter-mile, the road parallels the river itself for its duration. A word of caution: this is a narrow gravel road. It is effectively a single lane, and requires care to negotiate oncoming traffic. Be careful if on foot – there is very little room for pedestrians. There are a few pull-outs and parking spots available along the gravel road; use them to leave vehicles behind and walk along the road’s edge and to access the (few) trails that intersect with the road.

Recreation in Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge includes:

  • paddling
  • kayaking
    The river runs just east of downtown Birmingham, with multiple put ins. If you launch from Grants Mill Road, the water is slow enough for some upstream paddling.
  • birdwatching
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • walking trail

Alabama National Wildlife Refuges Index Page