52 Hikes: #1 Oakmulgee Forest


Not far outside of Tuscaloosa is the Oakmulgee Division of the Talladega National Forest. I first became acquainted with the forest thanks to geocaching (a game that uses satellites & GPS to hide/find hidden items around the world). There are hundreds of caches hidden in this forest, and Karl and I have spent innumerable hours the last several years driving and hiking through these woods in search of geocaches.

On these hours-long hunts, we have talked through our issues with one another, our various parenting conundrums, and the hopes for our future and our kids’ futures. The forest is a good place for long walks and long talks.

It’s also a good place for viewing nature. In this forest, you will find a variety of hardwoods, pine trees, birds, deer, coyote, rabbit, snakes, and other small animals.

My first hike for 2020 was a short, out-and-back hike in the Oakmulgee along an old forest-service road that is no longer open for vehicles. According to my Garmin tracks, the distance is 2.4 miles. There is ample parking on either end of this trail.

Directions from Tuscaloosa: Take HWY 82 East. Just past mile marker 65, turn right onto the Oakmulgee entrance road (Lake Payne Road). You’ll stay on the main road (forest road 726) until you come to N32° 59.123′ W87° 23.205′, the coordinates for parking area A (on the above map). The trailhead is to the southeast of the pull-off for parking. Just walk along the ridge and enjoy the views until you come to the gate about a mile away. Turn around and walk back to your vehicle. There are not any water sources along this trail, so be sure to bring your water with you.

So, that was my first hike for 2020. Though I was sweating by the end, it wasn’t a very strenuous adventure.

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