Cahaba Lilies on the Cahaba River

Cahaba Lilies on the Cahaba River

Have you ever seen the Cahaba Lilies in Bloom? They bloom from mid-May to mid-June in parts of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. This rare, beautiful flower requires swift-flowing water and full sun and highly specialized conditions to grow. People have tried to relocate bulbs from these plants, but have no luck getting them to live for very long outside of their natural habitat.

Where can I see them? (33.01855, -87.07777) West Blockton at the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge.

How do I get to them? You can travel be canoe, kayak or put on waders and make your way out into the river. You can stand on the bank of the river and see them as well.
This is straight from 1) Take I-20/I-59 southwest from Birmingham (or east from Tuscaloosa) for about 30 miles to exit 97. This is the Centreville/West Blocton exit. Turn south (left if coming from Birmingham) onto Highway 5/Highway 11.
2) After three miles on the four-lane, Highway 5 abruptly turns south (left) as a two-lane. WATCH carefully for that turn and take it. There is a “Cahaba River NWR” sign there if you can notice that.
3) Travel 10 miles south on Highway 5. Turn left onto County Rd 24 to West Blocton under the yellow blinking light. There is another small brown “Cahaba River NWR” sign near this turn.
4) Continue straight at the stop sign. You will pass West Blocton High School and West Blocton Elementary School. It is five miles from the stop sign to the Cahaba River.
5) About five miles from the stop sign you will see a roadside sign for the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge. Take the next road to the right. This is “River Trace”. This gravel road runs parallel to the river.
6) There is a good stand of lilies just under one mile down the road, and the largest stand of shoals lilies (Cahaba lilies) in the world is two and a half miles down the road. You can drive only part way. Use your judgment about whether your vehicle can manage this road.
7) There are several paddler “put-ins” along the road. The “take out” would be on County Road 26 at The Nature Conservancy’s Pratt’s Ferry Preserve. (33.01855, -87.07777)

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