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.
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
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.
The park provides access to the north side of Wheeler Lake and the associated backwaters, which are often good for waterbirds. The park also contains several patches of deciduous hardwoods crisscrossed by marked forest trails for woodland birding.
Rock Springs Nature Trail (Site #10, Northwest Loop) winds through an idyllic wooded area from Colbert Creek to Rock Springs (approximate 20-minute walk). The creek is intermittently dammed by beavers, creating an impressive wetland abounding with a …
The Rockpile Recreation Area (Site 7, Northeast Loop) sits at the base of Wilson Dam. This area provides basic camping and picnicking facilities in a wooded setting along the edge of Pickwick Reservoir. Woodlands in the park attract numerous songbird …