Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) (Site# 9, Northwest Loop) has large open fields managed for warm-season native grasses interspersed with small patches of deciduous woodland and the seasonal sinkhole wetland. The refuge is gradually being converted from crops to native warm-season grasslands. The benefit of this restoration is immediately apparent from the dozens of singing Grasshopper Sparrows and Dickcissels that can be heard calling across the refuge. The refuge’s primary purpose is to protect Key Cave (not open to the public), which is home to the endangered Alabama Cavefish. This fish can only be found in Key Cave, where it is closely linked to the unique ecology of seasonally flooded waters beneath an active Gray Bat roost. The Gray Bat droppings make a nutrient rich soup that supports the Alabama Cavefish, as well as several endangered cave crayfish and other invertebrates.
Directions: From the intersection of US Highway 72 and AL Highway 20 in Florence, AL, travel west on Highway 20 for 2 miles to CR 2/Gunwaleford Road. Turn left and continue west on CR 2/Gunwaleford Road for 4 miles to CR 223. Turn left onto this gravel road and head south for 1.5 miles until its intersection with a second gravel road. Turn right and drive for 0.6 mile to the refuge on your left. Look for the concrete parking site and the birding trail kiosk.
GPS: N 34.7630, W 87.7818
Amenities: Parking, Handicap Access, Viewing Area, Hiking, Lookout Tower
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)
2700 Refuge Headquarters Rd.
Decatur, AL 35603