Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge

Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge is located in Calhoun County in northeastern Alabama. It is contiguous to the city of Anniston and lies approximately 65 miles east of Birmingham and 90 miles west of Atlanta. The 7,759 acre refuge was legislatively established on May 31, 2003 within the former military training base of Fort McClellan. On October 23, 2003, an additional 1,257 acres were contributed by the JPA for the current total of 9,016 acres.

As part of the base closure process, the Army is surveying and characterizing all training lands for potential presence of unexploded ordinance (UXO) and other environmental concerns. Within the legislative transfer of land to the Service, stipulations were made that the Army remains responsible for the remediation of all UXO within the refuge. The removal of the UXO is still ongoing, so you will likely see many contractors out while driving on the refuge. The area to the west of Ridge Road is closed to the public, which is about two-thirds of the refuge. Area closed signs are clearly posted and easy to find along the boundary of the closed areas. When UXO cleanup is completed in the years to come, the rest of the refuge will be opened up to the public.

Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge protects the largest stand of mature Longleaf Pines north of the state’s coastal plain. It is also home to some excellent bird-watching as a site along the Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail: home to the elusive Bachman’s Sparrow, the Refuge is also known for its abundance of Brown-headed Nuthatches, and large coveys of Wild Turkeys. The mountain ridge is great for spring and fall migrants, and an excellent hawk-watching spot in fall.

PO Box 5087
Anniston, AL  36207


Chief Ladiga Trail

The Chief Ladiga Trail is Alabama’s premiere rails-to-trails project. It wanders 33 miles through the countryside of Calhoun and Cleburne counties and it connects the municipalities of Piedmont, Jacksonville, Weaver and Anniston.

Seen along the way are beautiful wetlands, streams, forests, farmlands, and a horizon filled with mountains. The Chief Ladiga Trail is a family oriented pathway that provides a safe, non-motorized way to travel, exercise and relax while enjoying the outdoors.

Just north of Piedmont it intersects with the Pinhoti Trail, a spur of the longest walking path in America – the famous Appalachian Trail. In 2008 the “Chief” was connected to Georgia’s Silver Comet Trail completing what is now considered to be the longest paved pedestrian pathway in America. Together the trails are 95 miles long with plans for future extensions and spurs. We hope that you will enjoy and support the Chief Ladiga Trail.

Directions:Directions: From I-20, take Exit 185 and head north about 10 miles through Anniston on Route 1/Quintard Avenue; bear right on McClellan Boulevard/Route 21 on the north side of town. A few miles past the split, turn left on Weaver Road; continue about a mile, then turn left again on Holly Farms Road to the well-marked Woodland Park trailhead.

Chief Ladiga Trail

Admission Fee: Free

Management: For more information, please contact the Trail Manager at (256) 447-3363 or (256) 447-9007.

ACTIVITIES: BIKING; BIRDING (Borden Springs Trailhead)

Birding Trail Activities:

The Chief Ladiga Trail, the crown jewel of Alabama’s Rails-to-Trails initiative, stretches from the Georgia state line to Anniston, Alabama. The broad trail sits on a converted railroad bed, and is mostly level, paved, and features many gentle twists and turns. Along its span, the trail passes through a tremendous variety of habitats. This particular segment – from Borden Springs to around Vigo – features wooded edges, farms, fields, and stream-side woodlands. The agricultural fields are privately owned, while the woodlands adjoining the trail are primarily part of the Shoal Creek Division of the Talladega National Forest, and are therefore U.S. Forest Service Lands. An extensive number of species and individuals may be found by exploring the many different habitats found along the Chief Ladiga Trail.

Anniston Museum of Natural History

Explore the wilds of Africa, the wonders of the North American wilderness and the mysteries of 2,300 year-old Egyptian Mummies in the Anniston Museum of Natural History. More than 2,000 natural history items are on permanent display. Children can get “hands-on” with nature in the discovery room.

In addition to the many indoor attractions, the Anniston Museum occupies landscaped grounds surrounded by a mature pine-oak hilltop forest. The woodland component coupled with the elevation makes the site well-suited for a role as a spring and fall migrant trap. Woodland songbirds and woodpeckers are present throughout the year, and the added attraction of the Museum’s outstanding exhibits make this a site worthy of inclusion on any visitor’s itinerary. The Museum serves as a Gateway site for the Appalachian Highlands Birding Trail, and is a good place to get help with your questions about the trail. Be sure to spend some time birding the pond in Jaycees Park at the base of the hill, just off Highway 21.

800 Museum Drive
Anniston, AL 36206

The Choccolocco Creek Archaeological Complex

Centered around Boiling Spring, the Choccolocco Creek Archaeological Complex once consisted of at least three earthen  mounds, a large stone mound and a large snake effigy (representation), also made of stone.   The largest earthen mound once stood high above the Choccolocco Creek floodplain.  The earliest earthen mound construction at the site began during the Middle Woodland period (ca. 100 BC to AD 250)  when the site became a regionally important ritual center connected through cultural exchanges with groups living on the Gulf Coastal Plain to the south and the Tennessee Valley to the north.   Mound construction appears to have resumed at the site around AD 1100 when the inhabitants of the Choccolocco Valley were closely connected with the people of the Etowah site near present-day Cartersville, Georgia.   

Prior to the 1830s, the Choccolocco Creek Archaeological Complex was the location of the ceremonial ground of the Abihkas, one of the most ancient tribal towns within the modern Muscogee (Creek) Nation.  Ethnographic research conducted by the Smithsonian Institution in the late 19th and early 20th centuries indicates that the stone constructions associated with the complex are associated with oral histories that tell of a town “lost in the water.”  The large stone mound is thought to be the result of “burden” stones carried by the Abihka in remembrance of those lost in a great flood. 

This site is very important  to numerous Southeastern indigenous  tribes who assert an ancestral connection with those who built and occupied Alabama’s ancient mounds.   The earthwork landscapes and the objects and information recovered from them reveal a rich cultural tradition that still thrives today among these tribes.   Our indigenous mound sites represent  a heritage for all Alabamians to cherish, and it is important that we protect and preserve them for future generations. 


Visit Calhoun County

At Visit Calhoun County, we’re here to assist you with all of your travel planning needs. Not sure where to stay, eat or shop? We can help! Regardless of whether or not you’re planning on visiting for a day or a week, Visit Calhoun County is your one-stop information shop on all things Calhoun County.