National Forests in Alabama
National forests are lands overseen by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), an agency of the Department of Agriculture. The National Forests in Alabama are comprised of four national forests and are part of the USDA Forest Service 191 national forests, national grasslands, and land utilization projects.
The four National Forests in Alabama encompass approximately 667,000 acres of public land stretching across 17 counties. These national forests dating back to the early 1900’s are administered by a forest supervisor and six district rangers. The forests are managed for multiple use and are home to about 900 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fishes. The four national forests offer a diverse landscape and a variety of recreational experiences throughout the year.
Bankhead National Forest
Originally set aside as an Alabama Purchase Unit in 1918 and named the Alabama National Forest, the Bankhead was renamed in 1942 in honor of William B. Bankhead, a U.S. congressman from 1917 to 1940 and a member of Walker County‘s powerful Bankhead family. Its 198,385 acres are located in the northwestern part of the state in parts of Lawrence, Winston, and Franklin Counties. The forest lies in the Cumberland Plateau physiographic section, and the topography consists of high bluffs and sloping ridges that lead to steep gorges, waterfalls, and stream bottoms. Bankhead also contains stands of large old-growth hardwoods including oak, maple, beech, and black gum. The Bee Branch area is home to a 150-foot tulip poplar that is approximately 500 years old. Mixed hardwood stands, piney woods, and abundant streams and rivers provide excellent habitat for native animals and plants.
Conecuh National Forest
Purchased in 1936, the reserve’s 375,00 acres are divided among three ranger districts: Shoal Creek, Oakmulgee, and Talladega.
Tuskegee National Forest
Three Wilderness Areas Within the National Forests
There are three wilderness areas within the National Forests in Alabama.
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 Forest offers high elevations, with numerous overlooks for panoramic views of east-central Alabama.
Dugger Mountain became the third wilderness area encompassing approximately 9,200 acres. Dugger Mountain is the second highest peak in Alabama with an elevation of 2,140 feet and is located in the Talladega National Forest.
The addition of Dugger Mountain Wilderness brings the total wilderness acres to more than 41,000, which is about seven percent of the total land base in the National Forests in Alabama.
Five Wildlife Management Areas Within the National Forests
If hunting is your passion, there are five wildlife management areas located in the National Forests in Alabama and are cooperatively managed by the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Game animals include white-tailed deer, bobwhite quail, gray and fox squirrel, turkey, rabbit, raccoon, and various waterfowl.
Free National Forests Downloadable Maps
The following maps are downloadable free of charge.
- Bankhead National Forest Recreation Map
- Conecuh National Forest Recreation Map
- Talladega National Forest – Cheaha Wilderness Area Map
- Talladega National Forest – Oakmulgee District Recreation Map
- Talladega National Forest – Shoal Creek District Recreation Map
- Talladega National Forest – Talladega District Recreation Map
- Tuskegee National Forest Trail Map
- Owl Creek Non-motorized Trail Map
- Flint Creek Multiple Use Trail Map
- Sipsey Canoe Map
- Sipsey Wilderness Map
National Forests Contact Information
USDA Forest Service
National Forests in Alabama
2946 Chestnut Street
Montgomery, AL 36107