Chewacla State Park’s 696 scenic acres offer a 26-acre lake, swimming area, playgrounds, hiking trails, a modern campground, picnic areas with tables, grills and shelters, and newly renovated cabins. The woods in the park are good for a variety of woodland songbirds, so be on the alert for such birds as Summer Tanagers, Wood Thrushes, and American Goldfinches. The presence of the lake and streams within the park adds significantly to the number and variety of species one may encounter here year-round.
Take the first right after passing the entrance, and look in the trees and the skies above the parking area. Mississippi Kites have nested in this area for the last several years, and you may see them at any time between late March and early September.
Return to the main road (which is a loop road through the park) and turn right again into the parking area for the CCC-built stone bathhouse. A short walk beyond the bathhouse takes you to the shores of the lake. On warm weekends, you’re likely to see swallows (Barn, Rough-winged, and Purple Martin mostly, with Tree, Bank, and Cliff swallows primarily seen in migration). Scan the skies above the lake for Ospreys and Bald Eagles among the soaring Turkey and Black Vultures, and Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, and Broad-winged (spring to fall) hawks. The lake may harbor rafts of ducks and American Coots in the colder months, and Wood Ducks may be seen year-round. Watch along the shoreline for waders – Great Blue, Green, and Little Blue Herons and Great and Snowy Egrets and White Ibis can all be found here. The Alders and other foliage around the lake may contain a variety of songbirds. Expect to find Swamp and Song Sparrows in the marshy edges in winter. This lake edge is an excellent place to seek out wintering Orange-crowned, Palm, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, as well as possible wintering Common Yellowthroats, Blue-headed Vireos, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.
The park loop road crosses over a couple of creeks. Expect Louisiana Waterthrushes and Acadian Flycatchers to nest along the stream. The tall trees near the water also attract Northern Parula, Yellow-throated, and American Redstart Warblers throughout the warmer months. Eastern Phoebes are year-round residents.
At the far end of the loop road, note the Red Cedar trees. These evergreen trees make excellent winter shelter for songbirds, and many birds, such as Cedar Waxwings, American Robins, and Hermit Thrushes feast on their abundant berries from autumn through late winter. As the loop road begins to wind back toward the entrance, spend some time at the overlook pull-off on the right. This spot affords excellent views of the skies to the east to watch for soaring birds of prey, and it provides a close view of a number of Longleaf Pines, which are favored by Brown-headed Nuthatches and Pine Warblers.
Farther along the loop road, you will encounter many White Oaks. These shaggy-barked trees are common in bottomlands throughout Alabama. Their acorns are the most-favored by White-tailed Deer, Wild Turkeys, and Pileated Woodpeckers. Look for these species wherever White Oaks are found in good numbers.
Directions: From I-85 east of Montgomery, take exit 51 (service stations, restaurants, motels, with many more in nearby Auburn and Opelika). Turn south, and follow a short distance to the well marked entrance road to the park.
GPS: 32.5506691 -85.476781
Chewacla State Park
124 Shell Toomer Pkwy.
Auburn, AL 36830
Facilities include a 26-acre lake, swimming area, playgrounds, hiking trails, a modern campground, picnic areas with tables, grills and shelters, and newly renovated cabins.