The steep mountain slopes of the Homewood Forest Preserve and Shades Creek’s valley are diagnostic features of the Southern Sandstone Ridges level IV ecoregion of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. This ecoregion is known for its long, sandstone-capped ridges, which loom above narrow accompanying valleys. This is one of four level IV ecoregions nested within Alabama’s portion of the Ridge and Valley level III ecoregion.
In pre-settlement times, both the valley floor and the ridges were blanketed with forest and woodland. Depending on how often they burned due to lightning-sparked wildfire, the ridgeline and mountaintops would have supported woodlands of Longleaf Pine, Shortleaf Pine, or oak. Having more moisture, the low slopes of the valley and the floodplain along Shades Creek would have burned rarely, probably only during an extended drought.