People walking on the Pine Beach Trail

Walks and Talks: Educational Programs to Explore at Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge

This is part three in a series of three blogs on the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. 

The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge offers more than 7,000 acres of vibrant coastal habitat to explore. Immersing yourself in these Gulf Coast landscapes is a great way to learn about the area - but what if you don’t know what you’re looking at?

You ask the experts, of course! In part three of our Wildlife Refuge Series, we’re exploring all the educational opportunities available to refuge visitors. From guided tours to helpful brochures and even educational experiences, refuge staff and volunteers provide a variety of programs to help visitors understand the world around them. Best of all, most of them are completely free! 

Before you tackle the trails, consider trying one (or all) of these educational opportunities:

Man walking on the Pine Beach Trail in Gulf Shores

Winter Walks at the Wildlife Refuge

Every winter, dedicated volunteers lead a series of educational walks that touch on a number of refuge topics and habitats. You’ll spend one to two hours exploring the diverse ecosystems within the refuge as you learn about the history and ecology of each habitat. These guided tours are free and open to the public, but reservations are required. To reserve your spot, contact the Refuge Office at (251) 540-7720.

  • Bird Walk - Bring your binoculars and enjoy the peep show as you navigate the Jeff Friend Trail on the hunt for your feathered friends. 
  • Nature Walk - Learn about the local plants and wildlife as you explore the vibrant Pine Beach Trail.
  • Dynamic Dunes Walk - Discover the coastal dune habitat as you learn about the history, coastal ecology, and native plants in this thriving ecosystem. 
  • Medicinal and Edible Plants Walk - Get an interesting dose of history as you journey back to when native tribes and early colonizers relied on the Alabama Gulf Coast landscape to survive. 
  • Guided Beach Walk - Take a dive into the marine ecosystem as you learn about the different marine habitats and the creatures that live there. 

Winter Talks at the Wildlife Refuge

If you prefer to stay still as you soak in some refuge knowledge, sign up for one of the annual Winter Talks. These free seminars are held each January and February at the Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Department and cover a variety of topics related to the refuge. Prior talk topics include the History of U-Boats in the Gulf, Sharks, and the Sea Turtle Conservation Movement. Talks are free and open to the public, but reservations are required, so be sure to book your spot.

Women walking on the trails at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Seasonal Interpretive Programs

Throughout the year, refuge staff and volunteers put on a variety of seasonal interpretive programs for visitors to enjoy. These guided programs include nocturnal night prowls, seine fishing in Little Lagoon, butterfly tagging, and more. Stay tuned to the refuge website and Facebook page for information on upcoming programs. 

Trail Guides

If you prefer a solo tour of the trails, be sure to stop by the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center before you begin. Here you’ll find a variety of displays and brochures that provide information on the flora and fauna you’ll see in the refuge and along the Alabama Gulf Coast. You can also pick up a trail map, get insider knowledge from refuge staff, and learn about upcoming programs and activities.

The visitor center is located at 12295 Highway 180, Gulf Shores, AL 36542. Hours may vary by season but are typically Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 251-540-7720 for the most up-to-date information.

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