Our primary objective for visiting Birmingham lies in the mountain bike trails at Oak Mountain State Park. The International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) has designated the trails to be one of their “epic rides”, an elite classification. So, we just had to check that out! Jeff will post his biking trail review separately.
Oak Mountain State Park has much more than just mountain bike trails. It is quite a large State park with many features: golf course, campground, cabins, nature center, lakeside beach and boat rentals, archery, demonstration farm, horseback riding, and 25 miles of hiking trails. There’s literally something for everyone. Theoretically we could have camped here, but squeezing our big rig into the State Park sites would have been problematic. (Plus, I checked out the campground restroom facilities and they were not very nice. Pass!)
Even though many of Jeff’s past mountain bike trails have been multi-use, I prefer hiker-only trails. I just think it’s safer. So it’s really convenient when we can park at a trailhead and each set off on our own trail systems. After many days of unseasonably cold weather, we finally had a couple of nice sunny days with highs in the 60’s and gleefully hit the trails!
We spent two afternoons exploring different sections of the park. Several of the hiking trails traverse the park lengthwise (7-8 miles long), while others intersect and wind, allowing you to make loops. I tackled one of the trails (the Yellow trail), hiking one end of it from the South trailhead and exploring the other end from the North trailhead another day. The trails are reasonably well-marked and in good condition, but heavy leaf litter tended to obscure the trail, forcing me to pay close attention. I only got turned around a few times, mostly at trail intersections. The trail also featured a surprisingly challenging elevation profile (steep up, steep down, repeat!), making for a decent workout. The leaf color was fading but still evident in some areas, and the weather was absolutely beautiful.
This is a park in which both Jeff and I could spend many happy hours on the trails. But, it is time to continue on south to beat Old Man Winter. Next stop – Orlando!