The Guardian, is a powerful testimony of the beauty and value of Perry Lakes Park.


~ Restored Outdoor Park and a New Nature Preserve ~
Perry County, Alabama

Located on State Hwy 175 East of Marion beside the Marion State Fish Hatchery

GPS Waypoint Coordinates: N 32-41.883 W 087-15.639

Perry Lake, June of 2008

Directions to the Park: The State Highway Department pulled down every sign leading visitors to the Park. The District Highway Permit Engineer will not allow County signs on a State Highway. The entrance road to the Park is gravel and it is beside the new Aquatic Biodiversity Laboratory which is on the same side of the road as the State Hatchery ponds. If you drive aobut 100 yards down this road, you will see the first Park sign. Please write Gov. Bentley and complain about this sign problem for scenic byways. Thank you. TW

Amreican Beech with yellow fall colors

Fall colors in the Park are beautiful. This American Beech with its yellow leaves makes stark contrast with the gray colors of the cypress and tupelos.

Images of Secret Lake

UofA Outdoor Action installing a bench at Secret Lake, 09

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa (above image), Outdoor Action - Honors Program Outreach in the (August, 09)

Carly Palmour with a bridge timber

Outdoor Action...University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa... Aug. 2010 Secret Lake Project

Perry Lakes Park swamps (Round Lake image) is in an article about the Cahaba River in the August, 2009, Smithsonian Magazine. Thomas Wilson took photographer Beth Maynor on a canoe trip through the swamps and she was thrilled with the beauty of the Spanish Moss draped Bald Cypress forest. Beth is famous for her photographs of the Cahaba River and other wild places in Alabama..

Dr. Wilson was guest speaker at the Alabama Sierra Club's Annual Retreat on 15 Nov. 08...

"Saving Perry Lakes Park and Woods"

Southern Living Magazine features Perry Lakes Park the the Judson College Earth Team

Dr. Thomas Wilson and wife Doris view sign
Dr. Thomas Wilson and wife, Doris, enjoyed seeing the new
Lower Cahaba Historic and Recreational Corridor sign newly installed at the entrance to Perry Lakes Park and Barton's Beach Cahaba Nature Preserve (March, 10).

Thomas Wilson and Judy Martin of Judson College and John Martin, Chairman of the Perry County Chamber of Commerce, worked with the Auburn Urban Studios group in designating and describing the sites of interest in Perry County.

Joe Rada, Freelance writer and editor, features Perry Lakes Park on his personal web site

Fox Nex Park VideoFox Channel 6 Park Video... Judson College Earth Team and the Birding Tower

The Friends of Perry Lakes Park Plead with Governor Robert Bently and Commissioner of Conservation, Mr. Gunter Guy, to establish this Park and the adjacent Marion Fish Hatchery woods as the First Alabama State owned "Wilderness." This designation would prevent any logging of any kind and would save this wonderful natural resource for Perry County and all people who love this swamp park.

Tuscaloosa News ... an interview with the AL Department of Conservation officials and with Thomas Wilson ( Jan. 2008)

Letter in Support of the Preservation of the Marion Fish Hatchery Woods and Perry Lakes Park...a response (posted with permission) to the above Tuscaloosa News article of 15 June, 2008

Alert...Warning! The Fisheries Section of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is considering logging the mature trees in the Marion Hatchery Woods. This warning is current until posted otherwise on this web site. I will post the State Management Plan when it is made available to the public. Thomas Wilson, 26 Sept., 2010.

Map of Proposed Logging of "Perry Lakes Park"

Here is one of the majestic 100+ year old Loblolly Pines that may be cut for cash. Loblolly pines are native trees of the Cahaba River bottomland forest. Imagine the damage to the Park that will be done by cutters, skidders, and logging trucks!

Recommendations for a forestry management plan for the Marion Hatchery Woods and for Perry Lakes Park ... made by the Friends of Perry Lakes Park

Website developed, maintained and paid for by
Thomas Wilson, Marion, AL
(images by Thomas Wilson)

Park History:

Judson College Earth Team members asked Governor Bob Riley to please "Don't let the Department of Conservation log the big trees from the Marion Hatchery woods." These big trees make up the heart of Perry Lakes Park. Miles of developed interpretive trails wind through the areas that are proposed for logging.

Perry Lakes Park and the adjacent Marion Hatchery woods represent a bottomland hardwood forest of the Cahaba River. Preservation of this type of habitat is a top priority for the Alabama Department of Conservation... all the more reason to not log the big trees.
Earth Team members asked Gov. Riley to "save the Park."
Earth Team members lobby Senator Hank Sanders to help save the old trees in Perry Lakes Park

Park History:
Judson College Earth Team members lobbied Senator Hank Sanders to help save the old trees at the Marion Hatchery woods. Senator Sanders asked Governor Riley and Commissioner Lawley to "please do not cut the old trees which represent an irreplaceable resource for the Black Belt and for Perry County."
February, 2006
Perry Lakes Park, the Barton's Beach Cahaba River Preserve, and the Marion State Fish Hatchery represent wonderful and exciting nature areas which provide outstanding opportunities for recreation and education in a remote and undeveloped West Central Alabama old growth river bottom. Visitors will experience exceptional birding, hiking, interpretive nature trails, and recreational opportunities in the three adjacent natural areas. The mature hardwood canopy of these ecosystems represents a rarely experienced component of nature that is well worth preservation and deserves a visit.

The Park gate is opened at sunup and is locked at sundown...every day of the year.

ATVs and horses are not allowed in the Park. We are trying to protect this natural environment for outdoor education and for research. Visitors and Park creatures deserve the peace and quiet of nature.
There is no entrance fee to visit Perry Lakes Park. We want the Park to be available to all citizens, especially the people of the Black Belt region.

There is no budget for the Park. Volunteers designed, created, and maintain the Park.

Please follow the rules....especially the No ATVs in the Park rule.

The gate is locked at sundown... Read the sign!

Park gate locked at sundown
Infrared photo of Perry Lakes Park and surroundings (image provided by Mike McCovey, International Paper

Google Earth Image of Park Environment

Waymarking, Geocaching, Benchmarking in the Perry Lakes Park...maps, GPS numbers

The Perry Lakes Park (Recreational Area) project is a restoration and expansion of a park constructed in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Perry Lakes Park was closed in 1974 due to the theft of fish from the nearby State Hatchery.

The Park is located five miles east of Marion, near the State Fish Hatchery on State Hy 175.Perry Lakes Park is positioned between the Marion State Fish Hatchery and the Barton's Beach Cahaba River Preserve. The Park area was leased (20 yrs. beginning in 1999) from the Ala Department o f Conservation.

The four oxbow lakes of the Park and the bright white sand of Barton's Beach can be seen in this image.

A map of the Park is available in the Map Box at the entrance to the Park.
ADECA and the U. S. Department of the Interior designate Perry Lakes/Barton's Beach as a Cahaba River Nature and Canoe Trailhead. Read this interesting sign about the "Protection and Purpose of Perry Lakes Park.".

Judson College Earth Team member, Elizabeth Hinton and LEI participant take a close look at the Paw Paw tree fruit at the Paw Paw Bridge interpretivie area beside Eagle Trail.
Paw Paw tree fruit, May, 2008
Outdoor Action 2011
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Outdoor Action students conducted their fifth straight year of community service work at Perry Lakes Park in August, 2011. Fifty students lead by Fran Oneil, Randy Mecredy, UofA Natural History Museum Director, and Thomas Wilson of Judson College, spend two days removing fallen trees from trails, mulching and marking trails, repairing benches and mowing pathways. A long swim in the Cahaba River at Barton's Beach at the end of the work day completed a great and productive adventure for these students.

Outdoor Action 2011
The Atamasco lily (right) is one of many nature images taken by Curtis Miyasaka (3rd from right in above photo) in Perry Lakes Park, Barton's Beach and the Golden Club Arum Swamp. Here are some of Curtis's photos ... let's hope Curtis will spend many more days in the Park.

Perry Lakes Park, Barton's Beach and the Golden Club Swamp .... images by Curtis Miyasaka.
Atamasco Lily by Curtis Miyasaka

Zephyranthes atamasco (L.) Herb.
West Alabama Sierra Club

West Alabama Sierra Club members visited the Park and nominated this Florida Maple to the State Champion Tree Program. The Sierra Club has adopted the Park as a preservation project. Dr. Wilson led the study tour. Carol Myer, Club President, is to Dr. Wilson's left (March, 08).

The Sierra Club has funded a bridge project in the Park. Watch construction of the

Sierra Club/Judson Earth Team Bridge.
Tip box for the security guard

Applied Botany students from Judson College, Stacy Lawton, Elizabeth Graverson, and Rikki Morrison, installed a tip box for the Park security guard. A project directed by Thomas Wilson, environmental advisor (Dec. 06).
Atamasco Lily - Thomas Wilson, 08

The Atamasco Lily can be found in late March in many of the depressed, wet areas. This group of lilies is beside the Pawpaw Patch Bridge at the end of the Devil's Walking Stick trail...well worth the hike.
Eagle nest at the Park
Bald Eagles have nested in a giant Loblolly Pine tree in the Marion Hatchery woods at the entrance to the Park since 2005 (March, 08).

Greg Harber, Birmingham Audubon Society, took this image on Sunday, 29 Feb., 2006. Greg took the image of the Park birding tower (below).
Ridge Trail leading to the "Tower"
Ridge Trail leads to the new Birding Tower
100 ft tall birding tower; image by Greg Harber
Judson College students at top of tower, May 2006
View from top of tower
Judson College students Elizabeth Graverson, Stacy Lawton, Kati Eubanks, Tiffany Jernigan and Melissa Adams enjoy the view from the tower top. Ball Cypress trees present a soft texture to the forest from 100 feet in the air. The mix of Swamp and Water Tupelo along with Blackgum completes the oxbow lake swamp ecosystem of the Park.
Thoma Wilson and Sheba in Overcup Oak Bottom
The Auburn Rural Studio Birding Tower is now open (22 April, 2006).

Come look at the floodplain forest and the birds in the upper canopy from a view few people have experienced. Perry Lakes Park is a special place... we need to realize how wonderful and important this ecosystem is and do everything to protect and preserve the entire woods and recreation area.
Important Park Links

Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center web site:

Black Belt Wildlife and Heritage Trail Kiosk Proposed for Perry Lakes Park

See Kiosk Letter from Director Corky Pugh
Park Introduction

Park History
Rooster Cogburn by "White Trash"

Rooster Cogburn.... "Art for the Park"
Auburn University Rural Studio Graduate Thesis Projects
Judson College Earth Team has labored long and hard to help build Perry Lakes Park
Warren Wilson College Basketball Team, Ashville, N. C., conducted an Outreach Project in the Park
Leading Edge Institute Conducts Leadership Workshops in the Park
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa: Outdoor Action 2007 Park Workshop ;

Outdoor Action 2009 Workshop
Outdoor Action 2011 Perry Lakes Park Project
Samford University Campus Ministries Outreach Projects at Perry Lakes Park
Protection of the Marion Hatchery/Perry Lakes Park Mature Hardwood Forest
Tower to be moved to Perry Lakes Park

100 ft. tall birding tower at Perry Lakes Park (open 22 April, 2006)

  Perry Lakes Park
Rural Studio
Birding Tower Fund Raiser

Help Perry Lakes Park get the 100 ft. tall birding tower. Donate $100 which will buy a step and a plaque with your name, home town, and favorite bird inscribed.

[This project was successful. All steps and platforms were sold. Another example of local people reaching out to help others and to improve life in the Black Belt]
Nature Trail Guide and Map  
Ecologically Significant Areas
Canoeing and Birding the Four Park Swamp Lakes
60 Native Tree Species in Perry Lakes Park/Barton's Beach
Rare and Declining Species List
 Barton's Beach on the Cahaba River
Barton's Beach, which is owned by The Nature Conservancy, is the largest sand/gravel bar on the Cahaba River. A footpath leads from the Perry Lakes Park to Barton's Beach.

Barton's Beach Cahaba River Nature Preserve
Students in the Judson College Chapter of the Cahaba River Society study the river on another rewarding day with Randy Haddock and Glen Black of the Cahaba River Society.
Judson College students and the Cahaba River Society at Bartons Beach

Barton's Beach Cahaba River Preserve contains the largest sand/gravel bar on the river. Beaver ponds, hardwoods, and occasional open areas add to the diversity of this area. The educational and recreational experiences available in this wild and scenic riverine and riparion ecosystem are limited only by one's imagination....more information


(Image © Rick Mark)

Bird List

Breeding Bird List

Nature trails through a mature canopy, swamp lakes, hatchry ponds, and a beautiful gravel bar on the Cahaba River make the Marion State Hatchery/ Perry Lakes Park/Barton's Beach ecosystem an exciting place to visit. This list contain 206 species of birds.

Perry County, AL Bird List
Birds common to Perry Lakes Park

The natural diversity of the park and the nature preserve makes this area special and well worth a visit!

MAP   |   Perry Lakes Park   |   Barton's Beach Preserve   |   
Rules and Regulations
For more information, contact:
Dr. Thomas Wilson