There is something unique and special lurking in lower Alabama. And it is not Gulf Shores.

I grew up in West Mobile, going to the beach, exploring downtown Mobile, and going on the occasional family trips throughout the country. We one time drove to the Grand Canyon. We went to Idaho, New York, Philadelphia. We went to weird places, like the Cadillac Ranch in Texas. We did lots of historical things, fun things, and touristy things.

But we never saw the Mobile delta. I think I knew it existed at some point in high school because a southern culture teacher (Phil Proctor) told us so. Maybe he went there searching for the perhaps extinct, but perhaps not Ivory Billed Woodpecker.

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Map of the Bartram Canol Trail through the Mobile delta. 

The Mobile-Tensaw river delta is the landform which exists in lower Alabama from the meeting of mutiple rivers. It is a beautifully unique place to Alabama because of the historical and biological importance held there.

I have been reading a lot about the Mobile delta, and the more I read, the more I want to go explore every inch of this place. A quick few facts about this area:

  1. The Mobile-Tensaw delta contains 260,000 acres of river and wetland areas in southern Alabama
  2. It is the second-largest delta in the contiguous US
  3.  An astounding amount of biodiversity:
    1. 300 types of birds
    2. 22 types of frogs
    3. 18 types of salamanders
    4. 21 types of turtles
    5. 10 types of lizards
    6. 115 types of fish
    7. 36 types of snakes (ugh)
    8. and an alligator
  4. An awesome canoe trail with floating shelters along the delta where you can camp at night! 150 mile trail
  5. Not protected very well against environmental abuse, thousands of acres cleared for logging in the last century, plenty of pollution of course, and serious issues caused by the dams built decades ago.
  6. Hunting allowed in certain times


Kayaking the mobile delta – photo credit (Mobile Paddler)

I want to focus on the Bartram Canoe Trail. This is seriously a gem. As mentioned earlier, this is a system of “trails” throughout the river delta connecting shelters and campsites throughout the delta. Some of these shelters are really quite nice – check out the Yancey Branch Shelter:

Seriously these shelters are so southern. These would never be built like this in Colorado. From the official description of the shelter: “This shelter provides ample room for 6 people and has a porch area outside of the main screened area with room for a few chairs.” Doesn’t that just sound like a southern thing? A porch area! Seriously! That is hilarious and awesome. But also is of course very practical because of the predictable swarm of mosquitos that exist in all areas of the south.

Anyway, these awesome shelters are spread throughout certain parts of the delta. The lower part of the trail system was completed in January 2018 of this year – which is very exciting that the Alabama State Lands board considers this an important project to continue developing. I highly encourage people to learn more about this amazing place in their backyard and to navigate the trail system!




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