Geneva State Forest offers more than 7,000 acres of Longleaf Pine forest managed for timber production on a long-rotation basis. Prescribed burns are conducted on an annual basis, resulting in an open under- and mid-story. The earlier-succession areas are home to numerous Common Ground Doves, Indigo Buntings, Eastern Bluebirds, Yellow-breasted Chats, Prairie Warblers, and similar species. The later second-growth areas are full of White-eyed Vireos, Wood Thrushes, Downy Woodpeckers, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, as well as many of the earlier-mentioned species. The more mature pine stands feature Pine Warblers, Summer Tanagers, Eastern Wood Pewees, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Red-headed and Pileated Woodpeckers, and in the understory, Bachman’s Sparrows.
Enter the forest from AL 54, then follow the Forest Area Road into the park. You can reach a 100-acre lake via Forest Lake Road by turning right off Forest Area Road immediately after a large family farm inholding. The lake is circled by a dirt road, which passes through more pine woods. A highlight of the forest around the lake is the presence of Painted Buntings on the far (west and northwest) sides of the lake. Swallows, Purple Martins, and Chimney Swifts are seen over the lake from late March through early September. Northern Parulas, Yellow-throated Warblers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and Brown-headed Nuthatches can be found in the pines near the lake. Anhingas are fairly common sights, and Common Moorhens may breed here in some years. Watch for soaring kites – Mississippi Kites breed here and Swallow-tailed Kites are seen in post-nesting dispersal in late spring and summer.
There are several private farms within the boundaries of the forest, and the fields are good places to find Northern Bobwhites and Wild Turkeys, and also to scan the skies for soaring kites in the warmest months.
Geneva State Forest is criss-crossed by level, well-maintained dirt roads, but visitors in low-clearance, 2-wheel-drive vehicles would be well-advised to monitor the weather and road conditions. Additionally, the roads are unmarked, and named only on certain maps. Navigating the forest roads is generally conducted by dead reckoning, rather than from road sign to road sign.
Although the forest is too large and amorphous to provide productive locations to look for migrants, it is a reliable site for specialized breeding species: Painted Buntings, Bachman’s Sparrows, Common Ground Doves, Anhingas, Mississippi Kites, Common Moorhens, etc.
GPS: 31.1422048 -86.174930
Geneva State Forest
1119 Forest Area Rd, Kinston, AL 36453
From US 331 and AL 52 in Opp (Covington County – all services available), travel east on AL 52 for 12.6 miles. Turn right (west) on AL 54 and proceed 1.7 miles and turn right (northwest) onto a dirt road at the signage for Geneva State Forest.