Pine Beach Trail is an enjoyable walk through a variety of habitats including oak mottes, sand pine scrub, fresh and saltwater marshes, dunes and beaches. The Trail will generally have the best birding on the refuge during migration and can also provide excellent winter birding opportunities.
It may be located by proceeding westward on AL 180 from the office for 1.5 miles (three miles west of the Jeff Friend Trail) until you see the Pine Beach Trail on the left (south) side of the road. Enter the parking lot. An interpretive kiosk here has trail maps and bird lists. This is a two-mile trail (each way) southeastward to the beach by way of Little Lagoon and Gator Lake.
Species commonly observed in woodland areas during migration include Red-eyed Vireo, American Redstart, Magnolia Warbler, Palm Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warbler. Open habitats along the trail often have Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Bluebird and Prairie Warbler. Once you reach the western shore of Little Lagoon, look for Red-breasted Merganser, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon during winter. A large observation deck near the bridge at Gator Lake will provide a good opportunity to set up a scope and look for wintering ducks, alligators and grebes.
The two-mile Centennial Trail connects the Pine Beach and Jeff Friend Trails and the western end of this trail features an observation deck where you may spot Sora, Common Yellowthroat, and Swamp Sparrow. At the end of the trail, keep an eye out for Common Ground-Dove in the dunes and Snowy Plover on the beach. Please be sure to stay on the trail and observe all closed area signs since this is a Snowy Plover nesting area.
Be sure to enjoy all of the trails in Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge:
Jeff Friend Trail – WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE. Explore the maritime forest and adjacent Little Lagoon. Many species of plants and birds can often be seen along this trail.
Rating: Easy to moderate. Time: 1 ½ hours. Distance: 1 mile.
Centennial Trail – Explore the transition from maritime forest to dune swales to a swamp discovering different species of plants and wildlife.
Rating: Moderate (ground may be wet in some areas). Time: 2 hours. Distance: 2 miles
Gator Lake Trail – Walk along a dune ridge and see many species of birds and plants that are typical of this transitional habitat between the maritime forest and the frontal dunes.
Rating: Moderate (sandy terrain). Time: 2 hours. Distance: 1 mile.
Pine Beach Trail – Explore the plants and wildlife of an intact dune ecosystem that includes maritime forest, scrub and dune habitats. This trail is unique with a saltwater lagoon on one side and a freshwater lake on the other. Many seaside plants are found here.
Rating: moderate to strenuous (some sandy terrain). Time: 2 hours. Distance: 2 miles.
DIRECTIONS: If following directions provided in the Coastal Birding Trail booklet, turn left from the Jeff Friend Trail onto AL 180 and travel west on AL 180 [1.5]. The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge office is on the right (north; look for sign on left) and you may want to stop for information about the refuge and the latest bird sightings.
GPS: N30.24758 W-87.82941
Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
12295 State Highway 180
Gulf Shores, AL 36542