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Bankhead National Forest - Alabama

The Bankhead National Forest is located in the northwestern part of Alabama in Lawrence, Winston and Franklin Counties. Topography of the Bankhead National Forest is moderate to strongly dissected with broad nearly level and narrow strongly sloping ridges leading into steep gorges with rock bluffs.

Below is an overview of the activities offered at Bankhead National Forest.

Recreational Areas

There are six recreation areas scattered about the Bankhead National Forest, each offering a unique experience of its own. Facilities for camping, picnicking, fishing, hiking, and swimming are abundant. All facilities are designed with forest users in mind and provide varying challenges for everyone from the novice to the expert. Forest users will find that each area has its own personality and with the changing seasons, even that personality will change.


The Bankhead National Forest features several scenic campgrounds such as, Houston and the newly renovated Corinth and Clear Creek Campgrounds. These three campgrounds are open April through October. Two of the three campgrounds, Corinth and Clear Creek, offers camping units with electrical and water hookups.


The newly expanded trail system in the Bankhead National Forest added 82 miles of recreational trails to the 71 miles already in the Forest. Now, you can enjoy hiking, bicycle and horseback riding, and a trail for your all-terrain vehicle.

Horseback Riding

Riders have a choice of horseback riding in the Sipsey Wilderness or the general forest area. There are 13.3 miles of trails in the wilderness that offer riders solitude and isolation as part of the wilderness experience. Hikers may also use these trails.

Take a leisurely day ride and explore the northeastern portion of the Bankhead National Forest. The 25-mile Black Warrior Horse Trail provide an opportunity to see the beautiful waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, deep gorges, majestic hardwood trees, wildflowers, and an abundance of birds and animals.

Sipsey Wilderness

Sipsey is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi and offers outstanding opportunities for solitude. Hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing are permitted in the Sipsey Wilderness. Horseback riding is allowed on trails specifically designated for horses. Motorized vehicles are not allowed inside the Sipsey Wilderness boundaries.

Forest History

The National Forests in Alabama began with the Alabama Purchase Unit, established by the National Forest Commission in Fiscal Year 1914. The area was proclaimed the Alabama National Forest by President Woodrow Wilson on January 15, 1918.

The first forest was located in Franklin, Lawrence and Winston Counties. Land acquisition files show that much of the ridge tops had been cut-over and approximately 40-percent of the land was cut-over, cultivated and vacated farmland. The virgin timber must have been located in the deep gorges and on public domain land.

On June 19, 1936, by proclamation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Alabama National Forest was renamed the Black Warrior National Forest. About six years later on June 17, 1942, the name was changed, by an Act of Congress, to the William B. Bankhead National Forest.

Information provided by USDA Forest Service

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