Conecuh National Forest is where you want to be if you are looking for a classic southern woods experience smelling the pine perfumes permeating the air. This beautiful forest encompasses around 84000 hectares and boasts some superb hiking trails. If you plan to head out for a hike here, you might want to check out which of Conecuh’s hiking trails are the best.
The 20-mile Conecuh Trail is the primary hiking trail running through the Conecuh National Forest. This trail consists of three beautiful loops, the 13-mile North Loop, 5.8-mile South Loop, and the 1.5-mile Open Pond Trail Loop. There are several trailheads to choose from to begin these hikes.
The Conecuh National Forest is a beautiful place to hike with stunning views. Deciding which route you will walk is easier if you have all the relevant information. Knowing how long the trails are, how strenuous the hike might be, what you will see while walking, and the available camping options can only aid your decision-making process.
What Are Conecuh National Forests’ Best Hikes?
The Conecuh Trail spans approximately 20-miles through the eastern section of the Conecuh National Forest. The trail showcases the beautiful diversity in Conecuh Forest and allows hikers to traverse through longleaf pine forests, across bottomlands and streams, and around stunning sinkhole ponds. Accommodating seasoned and beginner hikers and backpackers, the several access points allow you to create your unique adventure by hiking as much of the path as you wish.
Whether you will hike one or two or walk the complete Conecuh Trail will depend on how outdoorsy you feel. With only three hiking trail loops to choose from, you can consider all of the trails accessible in Conecuh to be the best on offer. Yet, these excellent paths differ, whether in length or the beautiful sights they offer. Let’s look at what makes these trails unique and why they can be considered the best in Conecuh National Forest.
North Loop Trail
This 13-mile long stretch of the Conecuh Trail will take roughly 6 hours to traverse. Depending on which resource you look at, the trail length varies from 13 miles to 13.8 to 15 miles. The variation is due to personal preference on where the North Trail Loop ends and the South Trail Loop begins. But all agree that you can find a few of the trailheads for this loop on Alabama State Route 137.
There are two options available for beginning this hike from this starting point, although some suggested that the southern trailhead is the better starting point. This trail is the northern part of the longer Conecuh Trail and continues to stretch south when this loop ends. The walk is considered moderate and has an elevation gain of roughly 587 feet.
The terrain you will experience on this hike is mostly flat, so you might find that you traverse this loop relatively quickly. Previous hikers have found that this loop is an excellent option for overnighting, walking the first 10 miles, and then camping at Nellie Pond to experience the velvety black night sky and twinkling bright stars. You can then complete the last 3 miles the following morning.
The eye candy you can expect along this path includes walking through towering longleaf pine forests with a few white-top pitcher plants scattered along the way. The real wow factor of this loop comes in the form of three spectacular ponds, including Gum, Mossy, and Nellie. Covering the surface of the ponds is lovely blooming water lilies, and surrounding the ponds are beautiful dark green cypress trees draped in Spanish moss.
South Trail Loop
This trail has several different names depending on which reference site you are viewing. The most common are the Five Runs Loop and the Blue Spring Loop. The length of the trail will also vary depending on which site you are looking at, but on average, the course roughly spans 5.8 miles.
The South Trail Loop should take roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes to traverse and is considered an easy route with an elevation gain of approximately 462 feet. The route forms part of the longer Conecuh Trail as its southern section. This trail is child and dog friendly, although the latter will need to remain on their leashes. You can start this trail from the Open Pond campground and trailhead following the white diamond trail markers.
The path leads you past Buck Pond with its tranquil green waters as you progress. Dogwood, pine, and cedar trees line the trail’s edges and infuse the air with their scents. The track takes you past Five Runs Creek, where gray cypress trees spike the water. The highlight of this trail loop is the Blue Spring, where you can take a swim to wash off the grime from your walk and refresh yourself in the chilly depths of its translucent waters.
There is the option to camp at one of the camping sites at Blue Springs or the Open Pond Recreational Area. You can camp out at one of these places and continue along the Conecuh Trail to see the sights of the North Loop Trail.
Open Pond Trail Loop
This trail has more than one name, depending on which reference site you view. In some cases, people include it as part of the Southern Trail Loop, and in others, they refer to it as the Lake Shore Loop Trail. All agree that the trail is approximately 1.5 miles long with roughly 128 feet of elevation along its path. You can start this loop at the Open Pond Recreational Area, and it should only take around 40 minutes to complete.
The trail is an easy walk around the shores of the Open Pond Lake and is great for those who wish to get out into nature and stretch out their legs without undergoing a strenuous hike. The trail heads in a counterclockwise direction, which takes you up into the hills above the pond. Here you can take in some of the views of the surrounding area and the pond.
Conecuh National Forest in Alabama is a fantastic place to hike for experienced and beginner hikers and backpackers. The 20-mile Conecuh Trail is the best in the forest, and you can further split it into three different routes. These include the North Loop Trail, South Loop Trail, and the Open Pond Loop Trail. Each of these routes is spectacular on its own or grouped and perfect for single or multiple day hikes.