Nestled along the banks of Lake Jordan in Wetumpka, Swayback Bridge Trail winds its hilly way through dense forest. You can choose from a short one mile loop to a grueling seven mile trip on the single track trail with occasional forays into fire road and power line sections. Much of it is a tight dirt trail, littered with rocks and roots, sometimes opening up to larger ring areas.
Swayback Bridge Trail was created by Trail of Legends Association (TOLA), whose mission statement is to develop trails based on local historic lore and fact while preserving the beauty and resources of Alabama through promotion of its natural features. They certainly did a wonderful job setting up Swayback.
What Makes It Great
It has been described as a heap of spaghetti tossed down along the hilly shores of Lake Jordan, with hilly being the operative word. Going with the spaghetti metaphor, there are four “noodles” to select: a straightforward, no-frills one mile length of pasta; a 2.5 mile romp with some sauce in the form of hilly ascents and descents; a steeper four mile loop with a hint of meatballs consisting of a two mile hill; and finally a seven mile bowl with all the works and then some. This last trail includes sections lovingly named “The Zipper”, “The Elevator”, “Bastard Loop”, “6 Mile Hill”, “Little Zipper” and “Devil’s Driveway”. It does reward you with some refreshingly cool breeze from Lake Jordan itself. The different levels are marked in ascending order of difficulty from blue to green to yellow to red, like DefCon conditions, as you approach branches in the trail.
Do make sure to bring some form of hydration with you, especially in the harsh Alabama summer, and perhaps layered clothing if you plan on riding in the winter. Yes, temperatures in this part of Alabama can range from 40 degrees in the morning when you start out, to a simmering 85 degrees at lunchtime on the same day! Also, bugs reign supreme in the South during the hotter months so bring your insect repellent of choice.
Who is Going to Love It
From the novice rider to the most adventuresome cyclist, Swayback Bridge Trail has a lot to offer, all in an idyllic forest setting adjacent to a lake. It plays host to the annual Attack on Swayback mountain bike race and the Coosa River Adventure Challenge, should you be in town for those events. If you live in Montgomery and are getting tired of flat pavement, head on up to the hills of Elmore County to this legendary trail.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Montgomery, go north to Wetumpka on US 231 N, turn left on Old Hwy 231, follow the brown sign towards Swayback Bridge Trail about 2.5 miles, then turn left towards Jordan Dam. There is a parking lot on the left with a map of the trail. Be warned - there are no restrooms. TOLA admonishes against horses and motorized vehicles but does not specify that dogs are off limits.