Conecuh National Forest
Managed by U.S. Forest Service, Southern Region
171,177acres (83,852 federal/ 87,325 other)
In southern Alabama, Conecuh National Forest was created in 1936 from clearcut and burned-over lands that were replanted with fast-growing slash pine. Reforestation efforts today focus on native longleaf pine trees that provide habitat for endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. The topography of these coastal plain forests is fairly flat with broad ridges flanked by bottomlands and floodplains. Conecuh National Forest is primarily developed at two Recreation Areas: Open Pond and Blue Lake.
Open Pond Recreation Area, Buck Pond, Blue Spring, Open Pond Fire Tower, Yellow River Basin, Blue Lake Recreation Area, Lake Shore Trail, Conecuh National Recreation Trail
Open Pond Recreation Area (fee) surrounds a 30-acre natural sinkhole lake and has a campground, boat ramps, and a historic 1938 fire tower. Located only a ten-minute drive away, Blue Lake Recreation Area (fee) offers a day-use picnic area and swimming beach (the only place in the National Forest where swimming is allowed, presumably due to the presence of alligators elsewhere).
The 20-mile long Conecuh Trail was built by the Youth Conservation Corps beginning in 1976 and traverses longleaf pine stands and hardwood bottomlands. Leaving from Open Pond Recreation Area, the seven-mile long South Loop of the Conecuh Trail passes Blue Spring, but that portion of the trail was closed due to hurricane damage during our visit.
Notable wildlife species that inhabit Conecuh National Forest include red-cockaded woodpeckers (see above), wild turkeys, fox squirrels, raccoons, red foxes, gray foxes, bobcats, coyotes, black bears, and alligators. Fishing is a popular activity, with interesting spiky PVC pipe constructions put in the water to provide habitat for bream, bass, and crappie.
Watch for carnivorous pitcher plants growing in the wet soils on the edge of bogs and baldcypress ponds.
Spring and fall
There is a day use fee at both Open Pond and Blue Lake Recreation Areas, but an America the Beautiful pass can be substituted.
Many of the roads in Conecuh National Forest are unpaved, but the sand packs down well and provides a good surface for any vehicle to drive.
Open Pond Campground contains 75 campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Gulf Islands National Seashore (Florida-Mississippi)
Horseshoe Bend National Military Park (Alabama)
Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site (Alabama)
Nearest National Park
baldcypress, longleaf pine, slash pine
American holly, flowering dogwood, southern magnolia, swamp tupelo, pumpkin ash, swamp cottonwood, overcup oak, swamp chestnut oak, cherryark oak
Explore More – Believed to be of Muskogee origin, what does the name “Conecuh” translate as?
Learn more about this and the 154 other National Forests in our new guidebook Out in the Woods
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