Mountain biking is one most exciting and challenging outdoor activities one can do. There are moguls, jumps, and breathtaking downhills involved. Mountain biking also involves riding a bike down a relatively flat path in a beautiful forest.
Mountain biking in Alabama is a very fun activity. The state has all features suitable for biking. This ranges from serene lakeside to thrilling and challenging terrain. Get your bike and head out to Alabama to experience the best mountain biking trails in the state for beginners, intermediates, and advanced riders. Before visiting, it’s advisable to check the local travel guidelines. The following are the best mountain biking trails in Alabama:
1. Forever Wild Trails, Dothan
Forever Wild Trails are recommended for beginners and intermediate mountain bike riders. Dothan city Department of Leisure Services has set aside 40-acres of land for hiking and mountain biking. This is to create a green space in the city. Wells Fargo Bank also donated 60 acres of land. This has created enough space for Forever Wild Trails. The trails make a perfect jumping-off point to get you started in mountain biking.
These trails were built by the South Alabama mountain bikers. It was officially opened in October 2016.
There are six easy to moderate loop trails that cover 9 miles of tight and banked turns. All the trails are joined together with connecting trails, long and narrow bridges, and boardwalks. This takes you to scenic wetlands and feeder creeks.
The city and sponsors install four bicycle repair stations. Three of them are at the trailheads. The other one is at the main trail intersection. You can make quick bike repairs and get back to your riding.
Forever Wild Trails are located on Narcisse Drive in Dothan. They are open from 6.30 am to dusk. You do not need any admission fee.
If you are a beginner, try using the 1-mile Beaver Flats Trail. It is the only path that is double-track. The trail is eight feet wide in most places and covers mild terrain. It passes through tall magnolias and stands of oaks and pines.
Intermediate riders should try the 1.4-mile Stagecoach Plateau Trail. The trail crosses a plateau that’s about 70 feet tall and drops through banked curves in a hardwood forest. Less experienced riders will be fine if they take it slow on the downhill.
If you want an exhilarating experience, try the 1.4-mile Zion Cemetery Ridge Trail. It’s designed for beginners, and it’s built on hard clay to ride fast. Here, there are beautiful sites like stands of hickory trees, oaks, and pines. In some areas, the trail runs through patches of wetland where the grid blocks cover the ground. This keeps riders out of the muck.
2. Oak Mountain State Park Mountain Biking Trails
The trails at Oak Mountain State Park are a little more challenging. The park has 30 miles of trails. These trails are part of the XTERRA Southeast Championship mountain biking series. Many riders describe these trails as some of the best to compete in. That does not mean that the trails are for competition only. Anyone can access them.
There is a tranquil 2.3-mile loop around Double Oak Lake that beginners will enjoy. This trail connects with others that are progressively challenging. This is to ensure beginners access the intermediate trails easily to enhance their riding techniques. Advanced riders have tended to use the extremely challenging 22-mile Double Oak Trail (Red Trail) with a body-pushing 2-mile climb. The climb is an extremely rocky mountain with roots, drops, and a rocky garden to cut across.
Beginners and kids can also ride the ‘pump’ track. It is on the east side of the park near the BMX track. The track is a loop of dirt with berms and tabletops that you can ride with minimal (no) pedaling.
The Oak Mountain State Park is located on John Findley Drive in Pelham, south of Birmingham. The park is open from 7 am to an hour before sunset. Check their website for changes. Children under three years do not pay an admission fee. Others have to pay $5.
Mountain bikers will share the trails with hikers. Keep an eye on them. To know the trails used for biking, visit the Birmingham Urban Mountain peddler’s website for a trail map.
3. Chewacla State Park Biking Trails
Chewacla State Park is recommended for intermediates and difficult riders. You will experience fast, fun, and technical trails available for a magnificent ride at this park Chewacla State Park in Auburn. There are dozens of trails with features that not many parks have. The park has incredible natural terrain and artificial obstacles. This includes a huge wall ride and a downhill 2×4 ramp. You can combine the exciting loops, including a 15-mile-long ride, to cover a long distance.
The Camp Trail is a 1-mile relatively flat loop around the campground. It has wide and easy turns with a minimal number of rocks and roots. The height is minimal. This trail is perfect for beginners and kids. To warm up, advanced riders can use this trail. Short-track mountain bike races can occasionally be held on this trail.
There is a 3-mile CCC trail that can be combined with the 1.3-mile Creek View Trail. The Creek View Trail is highly technical with a narrow single-track. The trail goes around rock outcroppings and over small bridges that head to a natural waterfall. You have to get down and walk a short side trail to view it.
For Pete’s Sake Trail is an 8-mile trail that will take you through the pine forest over small bridges, loose rock, steep slopes. Here, you will test your ability to stay on the trail.
Chewacla State Park is open from 8 am to 5 pm. The admission fee is listed on the park’s official website. The park is located near Auburn University, and it’s usually crowded on weekends when Auburn Tigers football hosts a home game. You can download the trail map on the Central Alabama Mountain Pedaler website.
4. Monte Sano State Park and Land Trust Biking Trails
Many trails in Monte Sano State Park will make everyone happy. The trails are on both public property and some private property on the mountain. At the top of the mountain, there are smooth and relatively flats trails that await you. More adventurous riders can take the plunge off the plateau.
On the plateau, you will find many rocks that make you appreciate the suspension. There are also medium-length verticals that can either pump legs or numb your hands.
Families may ride down the gravel road to the old fire tower. They can even continue on the South Plateau Loop’s flat double-track to the overlook at O’Shaughnessy Point. For those who want to ride for fun, there is a flat and flowing single-track, the Bucca Family Bike Trail, for you to take. The trail twists and turns along the plateau up to O’Shaughnessy Point and back. There are few bailout points on the gravel road if you want to rest.
Take a quick lap around the North Plateau/Fire Tower Trail loop to get a taste of what you will get off the plateau. The trail is 1.2 miles full of rocks, roots, and short climbs. This will expose you to plunges. There are bailouts on the way if you get tired.
When you are ready for an intermediate ride, try the fast drop down the Sinks Trail from the biker’s parking lot. Continue using the Sinks Trail when you get to its first intersection with the Mountain Mist Trail. It will take you back around to the exit on the easier half of the Mountain Mist Trail.
The southern half of the Mountain Mist Trails plunges along under the cliff line of the plateau. There are many rocks and technical features around.
You may also try the Goat Trail with rock gardens, switchbacks, rock armoring, and wooden features. The Keith Trail and the Logan Point Trail feature better climbs and flowing technical aspects. Cold Springs, McKay Hollow, and Warpath Ridge have highly technical downhill (uphill) sections. Some parts involve hiking your bike.
If advanced riders want to experience long rides, the Land Trust’s side of the mountain is the place for you. There is long climb/descent of the Fagan Spring/Wildflower to Toll Gate to Cold Springs Trail combo. Ride your way from the bottom to the top.
5. Coldwater Mountain Biking Trails
Many people would argue that Alabama’s first choice for mountain biking is Coldwater Mountain in Anniston. The mountain has 35 miles of trails for beginners, intermediates, and expert riders.
New riders can start slow on the mountain’s Baby Bear Mountain Bike Trail. The trail features a small ride over rocks, a short and fast drop, and a short uphill.
Advanced riders can use the McGazza Trail, which is extremely difficult with large notable and amazing drops. The gravity trails are good for those who want to get some speed as you head down the hillsides.
Bomb Dog is a fast descent 4-mile trail. It starts from the Cassidy trail. This trail is very progressive and fun for riders of all skills. The final climb of the trail will take you back to Baby Bear and the trailhead.
The Cassidy trail has contours and climbs. Near the top of the mountain, there are beautiful rock outcroppings scattered throughout the landscape. The trail will take you over rock features ending with a 40-50 rock path known as a rock slot.
The Papa Bear Trail is the furthest from the Cold Spring trailhead. It is the toughest trail. The trail has a tighter corridor with frequent swoops and turns and rocks that blend well with the trail.
The Coldwater Pump Road is where the Coldwater trailhead is located. It is open from sunrise to an hour after sunset. Admission is free. To get a complete list of trails with their descriptions and maps, visit the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association website.
6. Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park Mountain Biking Trails
At Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, you will find a 3.9-mile Ironworks Loop. It is marked as the Brown Trail, which is great for beginners. The trail is a wide double-track loop that follows historic roads like Slave Quarters Trail, The Iron Haul Road, and the Montevallo Stagecoach Road. Moderate climbs are making the trail an easy ground and are popular with hikers, walkers, and birders. Be aware of them.
There are beautiful creek views and the park’s significant historic sites at the Ironworks Loop. The slave cemetery is one of the sites. From 1859-1863, slaves at Tannehill Ironworks used to cut huge sandstone rocks, pulled and stacked to form the area’s three furnaces.
When you are familiar with Tannehill and gathered some biking experience, you will explore the great intermediate routes such as the Iron Runner Loop and Tri-County Marker Trail.
7. Lake Lurleen State Park Biking Trails
At the north of Tuscaloosa, you will find Lake Lurleen, which is a perfect escape for a quick ride. These trails will take you deep into the woods. Start your ride on the Lakeside Trail. It will take you to the dam and connect to the Taska Trail. The trail goes around the lake with fewer smaller loops (Storm and Five Oaks). They branch off to the side for riders who want to add more miles on their ride.
Once you are committed to this trail, you don’t have alternatives other than completing the entire 12-mile loop. There are two trailheads, the south, and the north trailheads. Park at the north, then ride on the pavement to the south to start the ride.
8. Sylaward Biking Trail
Sylaward Trail is located at the Northeast Sylacauga that takes you through Lake Howard’s remote woods and the Talladega National Forest border. Four different loops branch from the main trail. At the Sylwood trail, you will only ride for 15 miles.
The trails are well-maintained, generally smooth, and have hard-packed dirt with roots, rocks, and other small obstacles. All the trails are single-track. Much of the riding is not technical, but there are changes here and there to keep things interesting. You will climb a few hills where the accents are not steep. The area is easy to navigate. You will find many trail signs, mileage posts, and colored blazes to show you the loops. You can customize the length of your ride because of the existence of many loops.
In Alabama, you will ride on these great trails. You will also enjoy beautiful scenic views along your ride through hardwood stands, pine forests, lakeside, and beach coast to swampy inlets. The best time to do mountain biking in Alabama is during spring. There is something for beginners, intermediates, and advanced riders.