Forever Wild Spotlight: Splinter Hill Bog Complex
Hiking, Mountain Biking, Horseback Riding, Birding and Meat-eating Flora in South Alabama
By Kenny Johnson, ADCNR
Just a few miles off of I-65 in Bald- win County, you will find one of the largest white-topped pitcher plant bogs in the world. It’s located near the headwaters of the Perdido River and is a part of the Forever Wild Splinter Hill Bog Complex. Sections of the Complex are owned separately by the Forever Wild Land Trust and the Alabama State Lands Division and they are managed together as a large nature preserve with more than 2,200 acres open to the public for outdoor recreation.
Splinter Hill is a biologically rich ecosystem consisting of wetlands, long- leaf pine forests, creeks and gently rolling hills. However, two of its main attractions are the massive pitcher plant bogs and the recently opened multi-use trail system, which provides an excellent up-close view of the car- nivorous plants. The relative ease of the trails and easy access to sights uncommonly seen anywhere else in the state makes Splinter Hill a great place for adventure seekers of all levels.
The Pitcher Plant Loop Multi-Use Trail System is more than 4 miles in length and open to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. The trail is directional, with all traffic flowing counter-clockwise and is accessible from both the west and east parking lots of the Splinter Hill Bog Complex.
Splinter Hill is home to more than 12 species of carnivorous plants including five species of pitcher plants, two species of butterworts and several species of sundews. Some of the unique and rare plants at Splinter Hill include: Chapman’s butterwort, Wherry’s sweet pitcher plant, yellow trumpets, sundews, Chapman’s butterwort, spoonflower, pineland bogbutton, Drummond’s yellow-eyed grass, Chap- man’s yellow-eyed grass, and many more including orchids and asters. The peak of the pitcher plant blooming season is July through August, but early spring offers visitors a variety of other flowering plants as well.
In addition to the spectacular flora, birding at Splinter Hill is excellent. In fact, Splinter Hill is a stop on the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. Some of North America’s most sought-after birds such as Bachman’s, Henslow’s and LeConte’s sparrows can be found on the property. Along the trail, look for Eastern wood-pewee, great crested flycatcher, brown-headed nuthatch, pine warbler, Bachman’s spar- row, blue grosbeak, and indigo bunting among others. The American kestrel can also be spotted just about any time of the year. The trail leads to a kiosk where additional interpre- tive signs and brochures can be found.
Splinter Hill is open to seasonal hunting. All season dates and bag limits apply. While a hunting license is required, hunters do not need a Wildlife Management Area permit to hunt at Splinter Hill. However, some firearm restrictions are in place on the property.
Because of the large size of this tract, be prepared to spend at least a half day or more and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, snacks and insect repellent. Don’t forget your camera because Splinter Hill is the perfect destination for the nature photographer – novice or experienced. A word of caution, Eastern cottonmouths can be present in the small stream drains. Keep an eye open for them and have fun exploring this special place.
Directions: From I-65, take exit 45 (Perdido/Rabun). Go west on Baldwin County Road 47 approximately 1.3 miles to the parking lot on the right; or travel 0.1 miles to Splinter Hill Road. Turn right on Splinter Hill Road and travel approximately 0.4 miles to the parking lot on the left across from Turberville Lane.
Trailhead Parking Lot Coordinates:
County Road 47: N 31.023463, W -87.678701
Splinter Hill Road: N 31.026408, W -87.653939
Photo by Billy Pope, ADCNR: Similar to the Venus flytrap, pitcher plants are carnivorous. One of the primary differences is the pitcher’s deep fluid-filled cavity, or pitfall trap, into which insects become trapped and are digested by the plant. Efforts are currently underway to restore some of Splinter Hill’s pitcher plant bog habit.