The 157,000 acre Talladega National Forest, Oakmulgee District is located in the Fall Line Hills of the Eastern Gulf Coastal Plain Physiographic Region. Dissected by the Cahaba River, the Oakmulgee, and its bottomlands, generally run east to west, and to the south is the Black Belt Prairie region. The vegetation is similar to Upper Coastal Plains with steep slopes more reminiscent of the Appalachian Plateau.
The longleaf of the Oakmulgee represents Alabama’s largest contiguous longleaf forest. It is also among the most unique ecosystem as it is a remnant ecosystem cut off from any current similar land cover types for sharing flora and fauna species or their genetic and reproductive characteristics. Soil types, vegetation, topography, and historical land use patterns have created a mosaic of habitats often contradictory including hardwood species on slopes and pine species in mesic drainages.
Miles of backwood roads await the hunter, camper, hiker, naturalist and horseback rider. Hosts the Prothonotory Warbler and the state’s largest population of Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers. The Forest is considered a destination for both large and small game hunting. Hunting activity is often prevalent during the fall and spring. The Forest is closed to ATV use except for those licensed for highway use or under a Special Use Permit. The Maddox to Mud Cut Equestrian Riding area is the Talladega National Forest-Oakmulgee District’s first designated equestrian riding area.
The Oakmulgee Division of the Talladega National Forest is home to the largest concentration of endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers in the state of Alabama – in excess of 100 groups, clusters, or clans of the birds live here. Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (see the Alabama Birding Trails stop dedicated to these endangered birds) are denizens of mature pine forests – particularly Longleaf pines, and stands of 100 acres or more of pines 75 years of age or older.
The Oakmulgee is criss-crossed with roads. In fact, there are so many roads and so many curvy roads that a map of the Oakmulgee Division of the Talladega National Forest looks like an aerial view of a plate of spaghetti. Some are well-maintained, paved roads, such as County Roads 1, 16, and 49. Others are dirt roads maintained by the Forest Service. These roads vary from well-tended, all-season, all-weather roads, to roads that are seldom-traveled and less well-maintained…as in 4-wheel drive and high-ground-clearance advised. Other FS roads may be gated and closed at various times and seasons for sundry reasons. Be prepared for a variety of road surfaces and be open to taking circuitous routes through the forest to ensure easy travel if you are in a typical passenger vehicle.