Fall offers some of the most scenic and pastoral vistas that the state of Alabama has to offer. The fire-like hues of hardwoods coupled with the moderate temperatures make this one of the best times of the year to get out on the trails with your favorite hardtail or full-suspension mountain bike. Here are five mountain biking destinations that will help you make the fall in Tuscaloosa one to remember.
1. Munny Sokol Park
Munny Sokol Park is perhaps the closest mountain biking destination available in relative proximity to downtown Tuscaloosa. WAMBA does a great job maintaining the various twists and turns that greet any would-be visitor to these trails, and the Park Ranger can regularly be seen patrolling the parking lots and picnic areas, offering an element of safety unmatched at off-the-beaten-path locations.
The trails here are composed mostly of sandy to silty loam, which gives a bit when riding, but should be avoided if the trails become wet or flooded. With loops specifically aimed at families, mountain bikers, and intermediate joggers, all interested parties are sure to find the “Goldielocks” trail that best suits their needs.
Come for a quick ride after work and you may find yourself compelled to stay and watch baseball games on a nearby field, observe local bird populations, or simply enjoy the natural landscape that is available to one and all who choose to visit this beautiful location.
2. Hurricane Creek
Hurricane Creek’s 4.3-mile trail system is nested within pine-scented evergreens and scrub oak, which create the pastoral landscape made famous in the minds and imaginations of those who have visited locales south of the bug-line. While the north and south loops are best-suited for beginners, featuring no daunting climbs or overly-technical terrain, the trailhead entrance and APCO road portions offer a slightly more challenging ride.
3. Lake Lurleen State Park
There are state parks and there are state parks. Lake Lurleen State Park happens to be the latter, with gusto. This venue offers a multitude of possible activities sure to please even the most discriminating and persnickety visitors—canoe and paddle boat rental, fishing, camping, mountain biking, swimming, sandy beaches, and, of course, a whopping 23.5 miles of interconnected trails. Not to mention the main attraction—a 250-acre lake that, according to the Alabama Park website, is “stocked with largemouth bass, bream, catfish, and crappie so anglers are sure to reel in a nice-sized catch.” So bring the bikes and all your other outdoor gear for a great weekend getaway.
4. Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park
Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park is an incredible complex ripe with historical significance. Visitors are met with a full spectrum of possible activities and attractions, ranging from hiking and birding trails to a blast furnace that was quite literally built in 1830 and later used to supply Confederate troops with iron goods and products. On any given day, one might find activities such as sanctioned mountain bike races and trade shows occurring simultaneously, for example.
The mountain bike trails are mostly hard-pack and incredibly smooth. Take a ride through passes that, according to the Tannehill website, “cut through some of the most scenic areas of the Tannehill reserve. Among the most popular hiking trails are the Slave Quarters Trail, the old Iron Haul Road (which runs past the Slave Cemetery), the Furnace Trail, Grist Mill Trail and the recently restored Tram Track.”
5. Lake Nicol
The many trails surrounding Lake Nicol offer even the most experienced mountain biker a welcome challenge—while the trails here are plentiful, they aren’t exactly mapped out and handed to you on a silver platter. You must, at times, find your way around these hardscrabble gravel trails, which can, and often do, lead to strange places. This is definitely part of the fun for those who seek their own path rather than abiding by the routine humdrum reality of mapped and catalogued adventure.