Mountains aren't readily available along the mostly flat coastal terrain of the Alabama Gulf Coast. But that hasn't stop cycling enthusiasts from coming up with an alternative plan. With the aid and support of local bike clubs, there are several area mountain biking trails to choose from to get your daily dose of thrills.
1. UWF Mountain Bike Trail
Located in Escambia County, the University of West Florida is bordered by a natural preserve of some 1,600 acres with rolling hills which is bordered by the Conecuh and Escambia River and Bay. The UWF Trails run deep through what is affectionately known as the “Campus Woods.” With the help of Pensacola Off Road Cyclist’s (PORC)club, the 20 miles of trails are well maintained. Two loops—the Main Loop and the Games Loop—range from beginner to intermediate.
The surface consists of roots, sandy areas, and hard-packed dirt. While the trails are not mountainous or rocky terrain, they do provide a rigorous workout. Inclines and technical skills may not be as challenging as in hillier terrain, however the environment can be intense with the sandy areas providing a challenge.
2. Graham Creek Bike Trail
The Graham Creek Preserve bike trail in Foley, AL, begins as you enter the park near Stan Mahoney Lane. The trail loops and crosses providing 7.5 miles of riding through wetlands, forests, and meadows. The preserve contains some 400 acres. Only a few years old, the trail is new and continues to grow and improve. Situated in the rural backcountry near the Wolf Bay water basin, this ride can become boggy in some places but does have overpasses for some of the creeks that flow through the area. The preserve contains restrooms and pavilions as well as a kayak launch on Graham Creek for an all-day adventure.
3. University of South Alabama
This MBT system is located in the heart of Mobile behind the campus of the University of South Alabama. Nearly 12 miles in all, the terrain is mostly flat through dense woods with several areas considered to be advanced. It is a flat, hard-packed trail with a few sandy areas. Gradual inclines are a nice boost to the adrenal glands and several other areas add to the technical skills needed to finish the course. For beginners the 3.5-mile Orange Loop is the best choice. Those more advanced will want to take the White Loop.
4. Chickasabogue Park
This trail is north of Mobile in Prichard, AL, is around 14 miles long and separated into three routes. Generally flat, this trail is for beginners to intermediates. The trail is a convenient 5 miles from the interstate. While Chickasabogue Park features mostly singletrack trails, riders looking for steep inclines and technical areas will not find those here. This trail is not as well maintained as the others in the area and your biggest challenge may be the spiderwebs.
With the help of South Alabama Mountain Bike Association, (SAMBA), work crews are out to remedy that. The Chickasabogue Park is one of the more picturesque landscapes and could eventually be one of the best mountain bike trails along the Gulf Coast area.
5. Red Rock Mountain Trail
Northeast of Pensacola lies the Red Rock Mountain Bike Trail in the Blackwater River State Forest, near Milton, FL. The 10 miles of dirt singletrack run through the Juniper Creek primitive area. For the most part, this is a dense, flat ride, but it does have a mile-long ascending and descending hill. Lots of wildlife in the primitive area including bugs, so be prepared. This trail system is near the Blackwater Heritage State Trail which is a 7-mile paved path with a visitor’s center, restrooms, and water fountains. Red Rock mountain biking is still improving, but it provides a distinct opportunity for both a road and off-road experience.