A Guided Tour of Alabama’s Longleaf

April 2, 2021

Alabama’s original forests were very different from what we see today – dominated in much of the state by vast expanses of longleaf pine forests and their unique and desirable plant and animal species. In every region of the longleaf range, these forests were largely consumed during our development as a nation. What older timber remains is a fraction of once was, but  Alabama is a leader in restoring longleaf from the coast to the mountains.

Montane longleaf is different from coastal plain longleaf in more ways than just the elevation. The tree and the natural plant communities are adapted to their more arduous environment, though many parts of the forest community are familiar.   While longleaf pine once extended over a vast area in the Southeast, only in Northeast Alabama and Northwest Georgia did these forests extend beyond the Coastal Plain, through the Piedmont, and into the Blue Ridge Mountains. While Coastal Plain longleaf pine commonly occurs on a variety of soils, the mountain longleaf pine forests grow on steep rocky slopes and along upland ridges. They are considered the most endangered of the remaining longleaf pine communities.

Explore Alabama's Montane Longleaf Online.

It is hard for landowners to consider a choice they have never seen or even knew existed. Since there was no existing guide for montane longleaf sites, the U.S. Forest Service and The Longleaf Alliance, with input from the Talladega Mountain Longleaf Pine Conservation Partnership, developed an interactive virtual tour showcasing the natural and historic treasures of ten montane longleaf sites surrounding Talladega National Forest.

Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, birding, rare plants, hunting, camping or simply taking a dip in a cool lake on a hot day, these sites provide ample recreation opportunities while showcasing longleaf pine habitats and the incredible efforts currently underway to restore this iconic forest.

Know Before You Go.

We suggest downloading the newly updated Alabama's Great Escapes app to optimize your exploration of Alabama's National Forests with virtual tour guide Eva Longleaf!

As you plan your in-person visit to these sites, please respect all posted signs and rules for each property, aiming to leave no trace and take only pictures. Many sites on this tour route are remote and, at times, beyond the range of cell phone signals.

Eva Longleaf_Alabama Great Escapes app

Always check current restrictions or status with the managing agency before visiting. Recent severe weather and tornadoes around Birmingham have closed portions of Oak Mountain State Park at the time of publication.