Chattahoochee State Park is a quiet, picturesque park in the extreme southeastern corner of Alabama offering lakes, wetlands, and mixed hardwood forests draped with Spanish Moss. There are four distinct regions to this park. The entrance road and the left fork offer dryer, upland woods with several walking trails. The right fork of the entrance road takes you to several wetland areas, and denser foliage. Both forks bring you eventually to the main body of the lake, with dense, marginal vegetation, especially in the southwest corner. The fourth area of note is the open swamp to the left of the levee road, which extends across the Florida State Line. All of these areas are worthy of time and attention.
From the main park entrance, the left fork of the sandy, unpaved road provides access to several trails, as it takes a rather straight path through sandy-clay soil and upland hardwood forest. The right fork passes by several wetland areas that can produce Swainson’s Warblers. Either path will produce numerous songbirds, such as Yellow-billed Cuckoos; Hooded Warblers; Wood Thrushes; Eastern Wood Pewees; Orchard Orioles; Red-eyed, White-eyed, and Yellow-throated Vireos; numerous woodpeckers, including Pileated Woodpeckers, and also many Northern Bobwhites and Wild Turkeys.
The trees around the lake are festooned with Spanish Moss. Prothonotary Warblers are quite numerous, as are Northern Parulas and Yellow-throated Warblers. Follow the road to the right (SW) and where it ends there are a few picnic tables and camping slips. This end of the lake is heavily vegetated, and the trees are filled with songbirds. The cover is also beneficial for waders and waterfowl, and this is a good place to look for herons and egrets (including Least Bittern,) and for Purple Gallinules and Common Moorhens. Wood Ducks breed here, and other waterfowl may visit here, especially in winter and in migration.
Both Mississippi and Swallowtail Kites breed in the vicinity, so watch for them to soar above this relatively open area of the park, along with Red-shouldered and Broad-winged Hawks, and both Black and Turkey Vultures. This may be the most likely place in Alabama to see a Short-tailed Hawk, too.
The road crosses a levee to reach the southwest side of the lake. On the left (south) side of the levee road is a small platform overlooking a nice swamp. Note the state line signs a few yards beyond the platform. There are generally waders here and sometimes shorebirds. If there is a best place in Alabama to find a stray Limpkin, this is probably it.
There are often Cattle Egrets and White Ibis along the shoreline of the southwest side of the lake, and Acadian Flycatchers and Eastern Wood Pewees are numerous in the trees in the picnic area and near the restrooms here.
The park is managed for timber, but the areas accessed by road are attractive and well supplied with a variety of birds. A trip to this relatively-remote location can be augmented by easy visits to nearby Omussee Creek Park and the West Bank Recreation Area, both located off CR-95, about 20 minutes north near Columbia. Services offering food and gasoline are sparse in this isolated area, so come prepared.
Directions: From the intersection of US-431, US-231 (Ross Clark Cir.) and US-84 in Dothan (ample visitor service available in town) proceed east of US-84 for 18.4 miles. Turn right on AL-95 for 8.8 miles, then left at the sign to enter the park.
GPS: 31.0056132 -85.04099
Chattahoochee State Park
250 Chattahoochee St Pk Rd
Gorden, AL 36343