Located on the southeast side of town, this greenway leads three miles through mostly forested land. With no major roads to traverse, and meeting several other greenways along its route, the Big Cove Creek Greenway rewards visitors with quiet and solitude, and of views of its namesake creek. On the southern end the trail links up with the Flint River Greenway at Hays Nature Preserve for another two miles of easy pedaling.
What Makes It Great
Located on the far side of Huntsville, this may be the hidden gem of the city's greenway system. Start out on the southern end at Hays Nature Preserve, offering a much larger parking area than the northern trailhead off of old highway 431. Set out north through a tree linedpath, with brilliant fall colors and a diverse wildflower display inspring. If you're not in a hurry, stop to view the high bank on your left just past the golf course. One of the many spots located notated on map at Hays, it is of archaeological importance, the site of an old bend in the Flint River and an old homesite.
The trail seems to split, but don't cross the low pressure bridge on skinny tires, as that route loops back through natural and rough surfaces some 6 miles on the north side of Hays. It's worth bringing your mountain bike back on a tour later to ride through the quiet tupelo swamps. In another mile or so, you'll break out of the woods into fields south of the Hampton Cove Shopping Center, and cross under the highway. Along this portion you'll be treated to the eastern flank of Green Mountain as well as the southern end of Monte Sano Mountain,both beautiful in the fall. Those looking to add distance can venture off on the Little Cove Greenway to add as much as 10 more miles, but be aware you'll have to cross dodge traffic crossing the busy highway. Big Cove continues on north, passing several pondsbefore ending at Cranfield Rd. Set your sights south from the parking area and explore one of the newest greenways, the Flint River Greenway, passing through forested land and the river twice between winding through a large field that's home to Ladies Tresses orchids.
Who is Going to Love It
This trail has the distance and alternate routes to keep an experienced cyclist's interest, and users of all skill level will enjoy the tranquility along this trail. Bring the family along and enjoy a great Saturday lunch picnic at Hays Nature Preserve for a break, and take in a nature walk along the banks of the Flint River, too.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From downtown Huntsville, take highway 431 south 10 miles, turning left to the entrance at Hays Nature Preserve. The parking area is a few miles down on the right.