Day Trip: A Day on the Delta
Posted on May 24, 2021 by Kristen Echols
As the Gulf Coast begins to yield to warmer weather and sunnier days, residents are venturing out to indulge in the scenery of the area’s local ecosystems. One of the Mobile area’s greatest natural features is the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, the second-largest delta in America with a biodiverse network of ecosystems that have earned it the nickname of “America’s Amazon.” The delta is where Alabama’s freshwater rivers intertwine to stream into Mobile Bay and is home to more than a thousand different species of plants and animals. The delta is a tranquil attraction for environmentalists, hunters and families looking to indulge in the natural wonders the Gulf Coast has to offer.
Five Rivers Delta Center
Right off of the Causeway in Spanish Fort is the resource center for the Mobile-Tensaw
River Delta. The Five Rivers Delta Center consists of nature trails, picnic areas
and a kayak launch site to kick off a day of exploring the delta. The Cypress Gift
Shop and Welcome Center offer learning materials to introduce adults and children
to all that the delta has to offer, and even souvenirs to take home at the end of
The nature center includes the Apalachee Exhibit Hall, which features local artwork, live animals and taxidermy to provide a glimpse into the diverse wildlife that call the delta home. It also has the Little Bateau Classroom and Tensaw Theater, where various documentaries are shown.
The Five Rivers Delta Center is open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is free. Fishing is prohibited on the Five Rivers property but is available on other parts of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.
Trails weaving through the delta provide hikers ways to navigate the area’s natural
habitat outside of the water. The eight smaller trails at the Five Rivers Resource
Center can help introduce visitors to what the delta has to offer as they connect
the various buildings at the center.
The Jacinto Port Trail System is made up of six trails of varying length that cover 7.5 miles of the delta. The trail is open seasonally from March 1 to March 15 and May 1 through September 30, for hikers, horseback riders and cyclists.
Jacinto Port is open to hunting in the appropriate seasons. Hunters must have a valid hunting license, a map and permit, and a WMA license. Horseback riders also must have a WMA license and WMA area permit. The trails are free for hikers and bikers.
Kayaking & Canoeing
There are multiple canoe trails on the delta spanning from the Tensaw River’s upper
reaches to excursions near where the delta meets Mobile Bay. The Bartram Canoe Trail
is the prime way to explore all of the wonders of the delta with 13 different interconnected
Campsites are available on the canoe trails for those who want to spend more time exploring the delta, but access points along the trails allow for day trips as well. More information about the Bartram Canoe Trail, including maps and campsite locations, can be found on the Alabama Scenic River Trail website and the Alabama State Lands Canoe Trails website.
Local businesses offer kayak and canoe rentals. Fairhope Boat Company and Natural Perspectives offer local rentals for the delta. Sunshine Canoe Rentals in Mississippi and Wild Native rentals have the option to directly deliver kayaks to Five Rivers Bertram Landing Kayak Launch for renters. Motorized boating vessels, including pontoons and fishing boats, also are available to rent from nearby businesses.
Wild Native offers waterway tours of the Delta that highlight the area’s wildlife and landmarks. Visitors can take private charter tours or follow tour guides in kayaks through the delta. These tours offer an informational and entertaining way to spend some time on the water. More information about kayak tours and private charters are available on the Wild Native website.
For those who want to turn a day trip into a weekend getaway, there are multiple campsites on the delta that are both riverside and floating platforms on the river. These campsites support trips along the Bartram Canoe Trail that could last longer than a day. Floating platform campsites require reservations to be placed in advance on the Bartram Canoe Trails website. Land-based campsites do not require reservations. Reservations for campsites on the upper and lower delta are available on the Alabama State Lands Canoe Trails website.
Dinner on the Causeway
Close out the day with a dinner overlooking the bay and Mobile skyline against the
backdrop of a breathtaking sunset. There are multiple dining options along Battleship
Parkway, just a couple of miles away from the Five Rivers Resource Center, to enjoy
fresh seafood dishes. R&R Seafood, Felix’s Fish Camp Restaurant, Ralph & Kacoo’s,
the Bluegill, and Ed’s Seafood Shed all offer seafood dine-in and takeout. For those
looking for different menu options, Café Del Rio is a Mexican restaurant also located
on the Causeway. Outdoor seating and window views create a continuous experience of
the Mobile Bay’s scenery.
Additional information and resources about the outdoor activities in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta is available on the Alabama Forever Wild website.