Updated: Mar 1
Do you look for hidden gems when you travel? I definitely found one in the Hike/Bike Trails of Gulf State Park. This Alabama State Park is nestled between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. In 2003, they opened the Hugh Branyon Back Country Trail. Named after the long time Park Superintendent, these 15 miles of paved trails added to the original trails of Gulf State Park make up a 28 mile trail system that takes you through 9 distinct coastal ecosystems. These trails are open 7 days a week from sunrise to sunset. There are numerous locations to access the trails, off Hwy 59 in Gulf Shores, off Alabama's Coastal Connection in Orange Beach, and Perdido Beach Blvd, at Gulf States Park.
The trails are clearly marked. One trail rolls into the next, creating an inner circle and a longer outer circle, as well as scenic spinoffs from the main trails. Maps like the one pictured above are scattered throughout the trail system.
There is plenty of parking at all the trailhead locations. Bikes are available to use for three hour increments to anyone who has a smart phone. Bike corrals are available at many of the trailheads. At the trailhead directly across the street from the beach on Perdido Beach Parkway is the starting point for Coastal Segway Tours. With this tour, you can spend two fun hours exploring the trails on a Segway. This is especially fun in the hottest part of the summer.
Most of the trails are paved with lots of signs to keep you on track.
There are also boardwalks across the waterways and frequent signs about the wildlife, fauna and flora in each ecosystem. Don't miss the Butterfly Garden and Children's Rock Climbing Area.
There is plenty of wildlife to see for the quiet, patient observer. White Tail Deer, Alligators and an occasional Bobcat can be spotted.
There are water stations and bike repair stations throughout the trails. There are also restrooms at the Trail Head parking lots. Have you explored these trails? Tell me about your experiences by leaving a note in the comment section.
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For more information, check out my other blog posts on the Gulf Coast: