Bankhead National Forest is Alabama’s largest national forest, with 180,000 acres located in northwestern Alabama named in honor of William B. Bankhead, a longtime U.S. Representative from Alabama. Clear Creek Recreation Area, one of six recreation areas that are part of Bankhead National Forest, is located approximately 15 miles north of Jasper on Lake Lewis Smith. This area offers excellent camping in spacious and private sites complete with RV electric and water hook-up and excellent views from many camp sites of beautiful Lake Lewis Smith. Other recreational activities available while camping include fishing, boating, hiking and biking.
Lake Lewis Smith is actually a large reservoir which is part of the headwaters of the Black Warrior River basin located in Cullman, Walker and Winston counties. It was created with the construction of the Lewis Smith Dam back in 1961 and consists of over 21,000 acres. It’s a very deep lake and probably holds more water than any other lake in Alabama. The water is emerald green and reportedly allows you to ‘see a fish strike a lure 10 feet down’.
Clear Creek Campground, located within the Recreation Area, is right on the Lake in a mixed forest of oak, hickory and pine. Many of the campsites at this campground have waterfront views and are noted for being spacious and private (accommodating RV sizes of up to 40 feet). Some camp sites adjacent to the lake include sites 39, 42, 43, 45, 46, 47, 49, 51, and 52 among others – useful information when it comes time to make reservations.
The campground offers 102 camp sites located in four campground loops – Hoot Owl, Fox Loop, Bear Loop and Fawn Loop. Amenities include water and electric hookups, an RV waste station, hot showers, and flush toilets. This is a very popular campground and has been voted by Frommers Guide to Best RV & Tent Campgrounds in the U.S.A. as one of the ‘best RV camping, best tent camping, most beautiful campground, most private campsites, quietest campground, most secure campground and most romantic campground’ in Alabama. So campers beware and make reservations if possible.
Once you’re set up in your camp site, you may want to go fishing or boating, popular activities on the lake with over 70 species of fish including largemouth bass, spotted bass, striped bass, crappie and bluegill. Gulf coast striped bass and Florida-strain largemouth bass have been stocked successfully into the lake since the 1980s.
Hiking and biking opportunities within the campground include a paved 1.5 mile trail that travels along the lake shore to the beach with lots of places for wading and fishing along the way. Take a swim at the beach at the end of this trail. There are other hiking trails adjacent to the campground but more serious hikers will want to explore the Bankhead National Forest 153 mile trail system.
Combine hiking and beautiful views and visit the 25-mile Black Warrior Horse Trail. You’ll see beautiful waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, deep gorges, majestic hardwood trees, and an abundance of birds and animals. There are three trails in this system all of which allow mountain biking. They include the Key Mill Loop, Brushy Loop, and the Pine Torch Loop. The most popular with bicycle riders is the Pine Torch Loop and is eleven miles long.
Hiking, biking, fishing, boating, camping at Bankhead National Forest – all with beautiful views of Lake Lewis Smith. You won’t go wrong by visiting Clear Creek Recreation Area or any of the recreation areas of Bankhead National Forest.
Carl Zimmerman is owner and webmaster of Camping With A View, dedicated to finding campgrounds with beautiful views. Visit Alabama Campground Reviews for Bankhead National Forest for more information on this national forest.