Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge consists of 6,700 acres of wildlife habitat lying directly west of Gulf Shores, Alabama on the Fort Morgan peninsula of south Alabama. The refuge was established by congress in 1980 to serve habitat for non-game birds migrating south in the fall and north in the spring. The migration paths from Bon Secour lead south to lower Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. The refuge serves as a living laboratory for scientists and students. It provides wildlife-dependent recreation for the public.
Goals of the refuge are to conserve fish, wildlife and plants, which are listed as endangered or threatened species, to conserve an undisturbed beach/dune ecosystem, which includes a diversity of fish and wildlife, and for the development, advancement, management, conservation and protection of fish and wildlife resources.
The Refuge is home to the endangered Alabama beach mouse, which is associated with the sand dunes and sea oats. Refuge beaches serve as nesting sites for green, loggerhead, and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles. Habitats include beaches and sand dunes, scrub forest, fresh and saltwater marshes, fresh water swamps, and uplands.
More than 400 species of birds have been identified and banded at the refuge during migratory seasons. The largest are usually ospreys and several species of herons. At the other extreme, seven species of hummingbirds have been identified. Mammals such as red fox, wild pig, coyotes, armadillos and others are also present
Gator Lake, located off the Pine Beach Trail, is a 40-acre lake that is open year round for fresh water fishing. Largemouth bass, catfish, and bluegill are the most commonly caught species. Canoes and small boats are allowed, as are electric trolling motors; gasoline motors are prohibited. Vessels must be portaged a mile down the Pine Beach Trail. A valid Alabama freshwater fishing license is required.
Salt-water fishing is also available. Accessible areas on the refuge for saltwater fishing are at the Mobile Street beach access and Little Lagoon off Jeff Friend Trail. A valid Alabama saltwater fishing license is required.
Wildlife observation & Photography
Bon Secour is open year-round during day light hours for hiking, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, and nature study. Two interpretive hiking trails are currently open from dawn until dusk, with a third trail under construction. The Pine Beach Trail is a 4-mile round trip trail. A kiosk is located next to Gator Lake where visitors can stop for a picnic lunch. The Jeff Friend Trail, a 1-mile loop, offers a spectacular view of the lagoon. In 2003, construction will begin on a 2.2-mile trail connecting the two existing trails. The completion of the “Centennial Trail” is expected in late 2003. During the hot, humid summer months, don’t forget water and insect repellant.
Getting There . . .
Bon Secour NWR is located on the Fort Morgan peninsula, west of Gulf Shores, Alabama. From US 59, turn west on State Highway 180. Follow 180 for 8 miles, around mile marker 13, and the visitor center is located on the right. Along the way, there are directional signs for the hiking trails and for the office, which has a small display area.
Visitor Center – Open 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday – Friday. Trails are open from dawn to dusk 7 days a week, year round