National Forests in Alabama, AL
US Forest Service
Places of Great Escapes
Get moving and take a “Great Escape” trip by exercising in one of Alabama’s national forests. A drive to one of our national forests provides opportunities for hiking, running, walking, bicycling, swimming, and canoeing.
Exercising in the great outdoors can burn just as many calories as jogging on a treadmill, and an additional benefit includes watching nature. Many of our lakes are wrapped with glistening beaches for swimming and relaxing. Twenty-seven recreation sites are available that include beaches for swimming; lifeguards are not present. Beaches are located in the Bankhead, Conecuh, and Talladega National Forests (Shoal Creek and Oakmulgee Districts) with places for canoeing and other water sports.
If you enjoy cycling as a form of exercising, mountain bicycles are the appropriate choice for designated mountain bike trails. For the hiker, our forests are filled with wonders. Moderate to difficult trails are delineated throughout, featuring floral and vegetative viewing and occasional wildlife observation.
Largemouth bass, bream, catfish, and crappie await the luring enticement of the forest angler in our beautiful lakes. Additionally, horse trail riders find meandering trails, fully furnished with picnicking areas, camping locations, and restroom facilities. Even hunters may sharpen their shooting skills at one of our shooting ranges.
Other outdoor activities such as boating, picnicking, bird-watching, camping, and all-terrain vehicle riding on designated trails are available.
So, get more out of life as you re-create your physical self in the recreation of the great Alabama outdoors!
Plan Your Trip
A good rule of thumb when choosing an outdoor exercising activity in the national forest is to be prepared before you leave. There are some things you should know before deciding to hit the trail for the first time to ensure a safe and pleasurable experience. Contact a district office to obtain maps and publications that highlight trails or discuss exercise plans with a recreation specialist. Become familiar with the type of recreation activity the trail is designed for and be aware of the terrain, distance and elevation before using the trail. Maps can provide detailed descriptions about the trail and help in deciding which workout is right for you. In terms of outer wear, a good pair of trail hiking shoes can provide a harder sole for stepping in rocky areas. It is of primary importance to be equipped with the following 10 essentials on all hiking trips: map, compass, whistle (3 blasts for help), flashlight, sharp knife, fire starter, water, first-aid kit, extra food and clothing suitable for the season. Please be aware of our forest areas that may be closed due prescribed burns or emergencies, and use caution during hunting season.
What will you see in Alabama’s National Forests? Glance at a few of our attractions.