Loop Trail? Yes
Type: Backcountry, Nature Trail
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No Allowed Uses:
Dogs - On leash
Heritage and History
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Location: The Audubon Bird Sanctuary is located on Dauphin Island, Alabama, near Historic Fort Gaines.
Coming from the North or West:
1. From the I-65/1-10 exchange head west towards Pascagoula 2.1 Miles
5. At Exit 17B, take AL-193/Rangeline Rd. south to Laurendine Rd 8.3 Miles
6. Turn left on Laurendine Rd. to Dauphin Island Parkway (AL-193) 0.8
7. Turn right on AL-193 to Dauphin Island. 17.9 Miles
Distance:29.8 miles Approximate Travel Time:45 min.
Coming from the East:
Note: It is faster, time wise to go to Mobile and then down, but the ferry is a lot of fun and Fort Morgan is a great site to bird watch while you wait on the ferry.
Also call the Ferry at (251) 540-7787 or in FL call (850) 434-7345 to make sure it is running and on schedule!
Loxley, AL Fort Morgan, AL 47.4 miles 107 mins
1. Take Exit 44 south to Loxley
2. Start out going Southeast on US-90 towards UNION AVE. 5.2 Miles
3. Stay straight to go onto SR-59. 21.4 Miles
4. Turn RIGHT onto SR-180 W. 20.8 Miles
5. At the gate to Fort Morgan, to the right is the entrance to the ferry landing
On August 5, 1864, the Confederate troops holding Fort Gaines rained down cannon fire on Union Admiral David Farragut's fleet those starting the Battle of Mobile Bay. This Battle is most known for Admiral Farragut coining the phrase “Damn the Torpedoes – Full Speed Ahead!” Most people know the Battle of Mobile Bay as a battle on the sea but it was also a battle on the shoreline of Dauphin Island, Alabama. Historian's have records of the Fort's battle field stretching all the way to what is now known as the Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary. Once the Fort fell out of commission in 1926 the United States sold Fort Gaines to the City of Mobile. The City then gave the property to the Alabama Department of Conservation, which deeded it to the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board. During the development phase of the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board, Dr. Wilson Gaillard, an avid birder and conservationist, recognized the need to create an Island refuge to protect the natural ecosystem as well as provide safety and resources for the incredible numbers of migrating birds and butterflies on their twice annual passages. This 164-acres preserve includes the widest possible range of habitats from a fresh water lake, Gulf beaches, a swamp, a pine forest, dune system and hardwood clearings. In 1967, the Park and Beach Board enhanced the status of the Sanctuary by entering into a formal agreement with the National Audubon Society, so that it was officially included as part of the national system of Audubon wildlife sanctuaries.
As the years passed, there was a growing awareness of Dauphin Island's unique location and resources related to the spring and fall bird migrations. Wild Bird Magazine selected Dauphin Island as one of the top four locations in North America for viewing spring migrations! An incredible 347 species have been reported on the island. Spring migration is the first landfall for many Neotropical birds that make the 600-mile flight across the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula. Under adverse weather conditions, large flocks of exhausted birds of many species may seek shelter on the Island in a truly spectacular "fall-out." The Island has also been sited as one of the ten most globally important sites for bird migrations.
The future of this incredible site has never been brighter. It is one of the featured attractions of the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail and a separate project provides an extensive nature interpretive sign system along the paths. Recently, the Bird Sanctuary caught fire and burned just over 60 acres of the Maritime Forest. With the fire freshly on our mind, the Park and Beach Board is in the process of engaging our partners to update the management plan which will include a Fire Mitigation Plan, action plan to control invasive species, and expand the outreach, education, and eco-tourism components to the Sanctuary. We also plan to expand the trail system to allow for enhance birding trails.
The Bird Sanctuary has a number of trails but visitors enjoy the 1000-foot handicap access boardwalk from the parking lot to "Gaillard Lake" in which a finger pier has been constructed along with the beautiful lake where all types of waterfowl can be spotted. The trail system has been enlarged and a raised walkway through the Tupelo swamp has been created. The extensive trail system includes boardwalks giving controlled access to the Gulf shoreline and both a swamp and dune observation platform. We have placed interpretive signage all along the 3 miles of looped trails. We have also recently installed two large nesting platforms in the dune area as part of Alabama's Osprey Nesting Trail. Once on the beach, visitors can walk to historic Fort Gaines, where visitors can tour one of America's Most Endangered Historical Sites of 2011. The trails found in the Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary are a family oriented pathway that provides a safe non-motorized way to explore the Island's best treasures, all while exercising, relaxing and enjoying the Alabama Gulf Coast.
Width: 72 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil
Secondary Surface: Boardwalk
Grass or Vegetation
Average Grade: 2%
Maximum Grade: 8%
Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: 20
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available
Year Designated: 2012
Supporting Webpages and DocumentsWebsite: Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries
Website: Dauphin Island Park & Beach Board
Website: The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail
Website: Alabama’s Coastal Connection
Website: American Trails Featured NRT
For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.
Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board
109 Bienville Blvd.
Dauphin Island, AL 36528
Prefer a beach less crowded?
Gorgeous walk down the wood-planked trails end in a delightful and usually very private HUGE beach. Whenever we are in the area and want to take the family to the beach, this is always the one we choose. The scenery throughout the entire park is beautiful, the park is very well maintained and clean, and there are lots of trails to follow. Highly recommend this park to folks of all ages.
May 10, 2018
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