The Talladega National Forest, comprised of two sections that are located in western and eastern Alabama, is 387,181 acres. There are six developed campgrounds, four of which meet the selection criteria.
In the 18th century, when the first American settlers came to the area now known as Talladega National Forest was the land of the Upper Creek Nation. These Native People were a tribe within a confederation of tribes formed for there mutual protection. There isn't much physical evidence left of this confederation's presence but it is still with us in the place names found around the Forest. Even the name for the Forest, "talladega" meaning border town, recalls the area's Native People. (Ask for the "Indian Place Names of the Talledega National Forest" brochure at any of the Forest's District Ranger's offices.)
Visitors to the Talladega National Forest come not so much to explore its history but to enjoy its beauty and experience its quality recreation and many camping locations. One way to get an overview of all the Forest has to offer is a drive along the Talladega Scenic Byway. Winding along the "backbone of the sourthern Appalachian Mountains, the Byway (State Route 281) offers nice vistas of the Forest and an easy way to see what the Forest is made of.
The Oakmulgee Ranger District features Payne Lake with an adjacent campground. The Payne Lake campground hugs the picturesque lakeshore, offering a tranquil setting, hookups, boating, swimming and bank fishing. The campground also offers a pleasant 1.5-mile trail and two sandy beaches.
Talladega and Shoal Creek Ranger Districts, about half-way between Birmingham, AL and Atlanta, GA, offer greater camping diversity. Campgrounds vary from rustic dispersed campsites to the luxury of campsites with water and electric hook-ups at Coleman Lake campground. A "developed dispersed" forest camping experience can be found at the Pine Glen campground. If you are interested in sharing a rustic forest experience with your horse, the Warden Station campground includes nearly 35 miles of horse trails.
A popular attraction to the northern portion of the Talladega National Forest is the Pinhoti Trail (from the Creek Indian Tribe word, pinwa, meaning "turkey" and, huti, meaning "house"). This 102-mile trail runs from about 9 miles northeast of Piedmont, AL to 8 miles southeast of Talladega, AL. A 6-mile stretch of this trail links campgrounds at Coleman Lake to the Pine Glen. Just south of Coleman Lake and near the Pinhoti Trail is Shoal Creek Church. Constructed circa 1885 to 1890, this is one of the few remaining hand-split, hand-hewn log churches in Alabama. Although the Shoal Creek Church no longer has regular services, there are occasionally weddings and other celebrations held there.
The Talladega National Forest is not far from Birmingham and Montgomery, AL or Atlanta, GA but it feels worlds away. Physically convenient to these major metropolitan areas, the Talledega attracts many people to experience and enjoy the land of the Upper Creek Nation, a land were the trees grow tall and healthy, the people are warm and friendly, the fish are fat and sassy, wildlife abounds, and memories await.
2946 Chestnut St.
Montgomery, Alabama 36107-3010
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
9901 Hwy. 5
Brent, Alabama 35034
2309 Alabama Hwy. 46
Heflin, Alabama 36264
Highway 21 North
1001 North St.
Talladega, Alabama 35160