Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge was established September 25, 2002 for the purpose of protecting and managing a unique section of the Cahaba River and land adjacent to it. The refuge is home to five federally listed species including the Cahaba shiner, goldline darter, round rocksnail, and cylindrical lioplax snail.
The Cahaba River itself stretches for almost 200 miles and is Alabama’s longest free-flowing stream. The river currently supports 64 rare and imperiled plant and animal species, 13 of which are found nowhere else in the world. The river has more fish species at 131 than any other river it’s size in North America. Over seven miles of the Cahaba lie within the approved acquisition boundary. The rolling uplands surrounding the river are forested with mountain longleaf and loblolly pines. Mixed upland hardwood species line ravines and the river’s edge.
The largest known stand of the imperiled shoals lily (known locally as the Cahaba lily) also occurs within the Refuge. During summer months, this beautiful plant blooms and people come from across the region to view this magnificent display of nature. There is even an annual Cahaba Lily Festival in late May that draws thousands of visitors to the area.
Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge is located in Bibb County, Alabama, approximately six miles east of West Blocton on County Road 24. From I-20/59 take Exit 97. Take Hwy 11 south 3 miles to Hwy 5 at the traffic light. Turn left onto Hwy 5 south and follow Hwy 5 approximately 9 miles to County Road 24. Turn left onto CR 24 and take CR 24 approximately 6 miles. River access is provided by a gravel road on the south (right) side of Bibb County Road 24 approximately 250 yards past the refuge entrance sign.
GPS/mobile devices: River Trace, West Blocton, Alabama
Tips ‘n Tricks
No visitor center is available; however brochures and maps are available in the kiosk on River Trace Road.
The refuge is unstaffed, so please be cautious during your visit. Bring insect repellent, water to drink, proper hiking shoes, sunscreen, and any floatation device needed while swimming in the water.
Checking the weather and water levels prior to visiting the Cahaba River is highly recommended. The river can become swift and treacherous after rains and regularly becomes not suitable for swimming and paddling. Each visitor must make their own safety evaluation of water conditions and their own skill level to navigate the river.
Many visitors access the Cahaba River via River Trace Road. This 1.5 mile gravel road provides access to two trails and the Cahaba River for fishing, canoeing and swimming.
Visitor favorite is the Piper Trail. This two-mile trail has two overlooks that give visitors a bird’s eye view of the Cahaba River. The Piper Trail was mostly constructed on an old railroad bed, giving visitors a lovely, easy hike; the last 0.25 miles of the trail are more of a challenge but provide a wonderful view from atop the ridge.
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