The Northwest Loop of the North Alabama Birding Trail winds its way back and forth across Wheeler, Wilson, and Pickwick Lakes, as it takes in an impressive variety of habitats and leads visitors to some great birding. A main focus of the loop is three large reservoirs along the Tennessee River.

Wilson Dam and Waterloo, in particular, have been noted across the state for impressive congregations of winter birds such as waterfowl, eagles, and gulls, as well as a long list of rare or vagrant species to the state.

Add to these incredible avian attractions an area rich in history and culture. From the early Native Americans who left us their mysterious mounds to the trials and tribulations of the Civil War, this area has a great deal to offer. Enjoy world-renowned southern hospitality, and be sure to drop by the Coon Dog Cemetery for a bit of local flavor impossible to find anywhere else

Bankhead National Forest – Central Firetower

Bankhead National Forest (Site # 14, Northwest Loop) encompasses 180,000 acres of public land crisscrossed with hundreds of miles of deep canyons, providing an adventurous environment for hours or days of exploration. Habitats in the national forest ra …

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Bankhead National Forest – Sipsey Wilderness Trailhead

Bankhead National Forest’s Sipsey Wilderness Trail  (Site #15, Northwest Loop) takes the birder a step back in time with its tinkling waterfalls and moss-covered stones decorating one of the finest forests Alabama has to offer. Each spring, this verdan …

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Cypress Cove Farm

Cypress Cove Farm shines as an example of a small farm that is being converted from primarily agricultural use, to a site that is being actively managed for wildlife and natural resource education. It is a splendid example of many techniques and practices small rural landowners can use to attract and manage wildlife on their lands. A small spring seeps from under a hill and pools to form a pond containing numerous large, old cypress trees. Existing farm structures have be modified and used as bird blinds and educational facilities.

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Freedom Hills Wildlife Management Area Walking Trail

The walking trail at Freedom Hills Wildlife Management Area (Site #13, Northwest Loop) is one of numerous gravel and dirt hunter access roads on the 34,500 acre WMA, which leads visitors into a variety of productive habitats ranging from old fields to …

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Joe Wheeler State Park

Joe Wheeler State Park (Site #3, Northwest Loop) is complete with extensive facilities, including a resort lodge, restaurant, and marina. The park provides access to the north side of Wheeler Lake and the associated backwaters, which are often good for …

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Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge

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 conver …

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Leighton Ponds

North Alabama, Northwest Loop | Colbert | Best Seasons:

The Leighton ponds (Site #5, Northwest Loop) sites are a series of sinkholes and semi-flooded agricultural fields that are excellent for waders and shorebirds. Scan the muddier areas for resident Killdeer alongside migrants such as Semipalmated Plovers …

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Mallard Fox Creek Wildlife Management Area

The 1,483-acre Mallard Fox Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) (Site # 1, Northwest Loop) along the southern shore of Wheeler Lake provides access to a number of habitats, including grasslands, agricultural fields, wildlife openings, and hardwood fore …

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Natchez Trace Parkway – Colbert Ferry

Colbert Ferry  (Site #12, Northwest Loop) provides access to a number of wooded habitats, including a beaver pond with lots of standing dead timber. Check this area for Red-headed and other woodpeckers. Closer to the shore, search the trees for White-b …

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Natchez Trace Parkway – Rock Springs Nature Trail

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 va …

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Rockpile Recreation Area, Wilson Dam

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 songbirds, …

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Tennessee Valley Authority Reservation

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Reservation (Site #8, Northwest Loop) hosts a number of walking trails that meander through woodlands, fields, and along the Tennessee River. The Tennessee Valley Authority Reservation is one of the few reliable are …

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Town Creek Marsh

Town Creek Marsh (Site #4, Northwest Loop) is a small marsh in the bend of Fosters Mill Road overlooking Town Creek. It is an excellent place to see rails feeding on the mudflats during appropriate times of year. The marsh also supports a variety of wa …

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Waterloo

The town of Waterloo  (Site #11, Northwest Loop) sits a few miles west of the Natchez Trace Parkway in northwestern Alabama. The area is renowned for the concentration of Bald Eagles that congregate here in the winter months. Sightings of half a dozen …

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Wheeler Dam – South Landing

Completed in 1936, Wheeler Dam (Site #2, Northwest Loop) was the first Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) hydroelectric dam on the Tennessee River. This dam impounds the 67,100-acre Wheeler Lake, creating an enormous habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, …

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