April 2002. Sand and gravel beach, with Cahaba River in mid-distance at Barton's Beach Preserve in Alabama.
Barton's Beach image April 2002. Sand and gravel beach, with Cahaba River in mid-distance at Barton's Beach Preserve in Alabama. © Harold E. Malde

Places We Protect

Barton's Beach on the Cahaba

Alabama

Barton's Beach has long served as an important nesting area for turtles.

Why TNC Selected This Site

Large gravel bars in this section of coastal plain river provide unique habitat for nesting turtles and birds.  The river in this reach is home to numerous species of mussels that play key roles in maintaining good water quality.  The location of this preserve also provides opportunities to work at a larger scale with partners and allows public access. Local agencies and individuals are managing Perry Lakes Park adjacent to this preserve helping to protect a larger area.  

What TNC is Doing

Plans are underway for the completion of a recreational park adjacent to the preserve and The Nature Conservancy serves on the board that will manage this park. Plans include the building of public accessible nature trails, picnic area, and a canoe launch.

Why You Should Visit

As the Cahaba River flows through Perry County in the upper coastal plain, the floodplain broadens and creates areas of bottomland hardwood forests, oxbow lakes and extensive sand and gravel bars. Bald cypress, wreathed in Spanish moss, blows in the breeze, bringing a distinctly southern feel as you hike along the trail to the Beach, which is really a large sand and gravel bar that has long served as an important nesting area for turtles.

What to See: Plants

This preserve contains many plants that are common in most bottomland forests of the southeast. As you take the trail to Barton's Beach you will see bald cypress, water tupelo, sweetgum, ironwood, sugar maple, red maple, loblolly pines, river birch, and willow trees, among many others. In the early spring, several varieties of lilies decorate the forest floor.

What to See: Animals

This part of the Cahaba River is home to many rare fishes, including freckled darters, skygazer shiners, Alabama sturgeons, crystal darters and frecklebelly madtoms. More than two dozen mussels have been spotted here. This is one of the most well known and productive bird-watching sites in central Alabama. Bald Eagles and Swallow-tail Kites have been seen soaring above the river!

This preserve is open to the public during daylight hours and located adjacent to the Perry Lakes Park which is operated by Perry County. A website that gives more detail on the county park can be found here: Perry Lakes Park