The Tuskegee National Forest is the smallest reserve not only in the state, but in the entire nation.
While it sets on only 11,000 acres, it still supports many outdoor activities, as it has the perfect topography for numerous things.
It is only one of six national forests that actually fully sets in just one county, which is Macon County, Alabama.
It is located just north of the town of Tuskegee, and just west of the city of Auburn, where the University of Auburn is located.
Its topography is level to just moderate in slope, and it has three other distinctive flavors the land it is located on.
It has broad ridges, streamed terraces, as well as broad floodplains.
Streamed terraces are a series of terraces cut usually out of solid rock, usually be some form of water, and is also called a river terrace.
The history of the Tuskegee National Forest started in the year 1959, on what once was called “the original tract.”
However, during the years 1935 to 1938, several other small sections were purchased by the U.S. Government, as part of the Submarginal Land Program.
It sets in the east-central part of the state, in what is called the East Gulf Plain.
While the land is not nearly as rich and fertile as it is in the Black Belt region, cotton growers during these times moved into the hills anyway.
Most of them had not real alternative, after the “boll weevil” ruined numerous plantations that were located in Macon County, and the nearby Black Belt lands.
These absentee landowners bought up this land and quickly developed “tenant” farms, and it did not take long to exhaust all the good soil located there.
The growth and rebirth of this Forest all started when the Submarginal Land Program purchased the entire area.
The bought it all to use for forestry, wildlife management, as well as recreational uses.
In the year 1959 after this restoration was largely compete, it was placed under the management of the USDA, United States Department of Agriculture and the Forest Services.
That same year, it was officially named the Tuskegee National Forest, after a lot of restoration.
The USFS had taken a lot of effort to restore the longleaf pine, as well as to protect the hardwood stands.
This helped to restore them from all of the failed planting as well as logging that had severely damaged it, but it took some time.
To this day, this forest is headquartered in Montgomery, the State Capitol, as are the other three national forest in the state.
However, the local ranger district is located right in the heart of this forest.
Here is the list of the first three things to do in this forest.
Biking and Hiking Trails
The Bartram Trails
The scenic Bartram Trail is considered to be the very first trail in the state of Alabama to be designated a National Recreation Trail.
This beautiful trail runs through the forest for about eight to eight- and one-half miles, and it passes through numerous types of forest wildlife.
If you and your family love to trail hike, this trail will show you a wide variety of wildflowers, as well as dogwood and magnolia trees.
It you are lucky, you also may see deer, turkey, as well as other smaller wildlife that are native to the area.
This beautiful trail was built and designated to celebrate the travels of naturalist and author William Bartram.
Mr. Bartram explored the southeast between 1775 and 1778.
The Taska Recreation Area
However, there is another surprise that you and your family will see along the way; the Tuskegee Tasca Recreation Center.
It is a must see for your family, as it is part of the Black Belt Nature and Heritage Trail.
It is for day-use only and open year around, and has picnic tables, grills, as well as an interactive kiosk.
Located in this center is a replica of the original Booker T. Washington Log Cabin Home, that you and your family can visit.
Pleasant Hill Trail
The Pleasant hill Trail is next, and it is the newest in the forest, and is the only one for both biking as well as hiking.
It is 4 miles in length, has a moderate level of difficulty, and is a lot of fun for all age groups.
The Bold Destiny/Bedford Cash Memorial Trail is next, and this horse trail offers the visitor 15 miles of riding pleasure located in the northern half of the forest.
This gorgeous trail winds through the rolling upland sand hills and takes you through this now well-maintained forest.
You can see pine trees from 1 to 50 years old, and some of the hardwoods at stream crossings can be as old as 90 years old.
There are 14 sites dedicated to camping in the forest, and all of them require a permit from the ranger’s office.
They are all primitive, but a lot of fun anyway.
Fishing at the forest is on the ‘Big Pond”, also called the Okhussee Thloko.
It sets along Vaughn Mill Road, Macon County Road 54, and it is stocked with largemouth bass, catfish, as well as bream.
There is also fishing at two nearby creeks close to this and two other smaller ponds.
The final attraction is the Uchee Shooting Range, where you can target shoot from 20-, 50-, and 100-yard points.
You must bring your own paper targets, and there is no other shooting in the park allowed anywhere, other than hunting season.
If you and your family live in the south-central part of the state and have never visited the Tuskegee National Forest, you are in for a pleasant surprise.
National Forests in Alabama - Tuskegee National Forest (usda.gov)
National Forests of Alabama | Encyclopedia of Alabama
The National Forests of Alabama
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