Named after John Meaher, a noted Alabama steamboat operator during the nineteenth century, Meaher State Park is located in and along the shoreline of Ducker Bay, at the junction of Mobile Bay and the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, two miles west of the town of Spanish Fort in Baldwin County. Meaher's descendant Augustine Meaher Sr. gave the acreage for the park to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in 1952, stipulating that it be used exclusively for public recreation. The park opened in 1989 and currently has a staff of four people and annual operating expenses of $219,000. It had 80,000 visitors in 2009.
The park is situated on an island at the north end of the bay and is surrounded by the wetlands of the Mobile Bay estuary. Meaher State Park is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and hiking as well as birdwatching and crabbing. The park's 1,327 acres of wetlands give visitors access to the unique and varied natural habitat that is part of the Mobile Delta, approximately 20,000 acres of water, rivers, wetlands, bays, bayous, and lakes and is an important economic and environmental asset to Alabama. Meaher State Park has a campground has 56 campsites with water, electrical and sewer hookups, a bathhouse, vending, and laundry facilities. Two boardwalk nature trails traverse the Delta's wetland environments, offering visitors a chance to view and understand Alabama's estuarine habitat and animals. The Black Willow Nature Trail features a 1,200-foot boardwalk that juts into the bay and crosses several small islands. The trail is relatively short, but it boasts an impressive array of plants and animals. Visitors may come across egrets, herons, osprey, seagulls, and various shorebirds as well as saltwater animals such as sharks, rays, shrimp, turtles, and crabs in the brackish waters beneath the boardwalk. Alligators sometimes traverse the park's acres. The boardwalk also offers beautiful views of Ducker and Mobile Bays. The park is a particularly fruitful stop for birdwatchers on the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail. Wading birds such as bitterns and rails can be seen from the boardwalk, and terns, gulls, ducks, ibis, and pelicans are often present.
Meaher State Park's picnic area has a covered pavilion, restrooms and a playground. A 300-foot fishing pier capped with a 200-foot-wide "tee" provides access to the waters of the Delta for people who fish from shore, and a boat ramp is available for those who fish by boat.
Thomas V. Ress
Published July 29, 2010
Last updated December 18, 2012