Oak Mountain State Park is really what put Alabama on the map in the way of demanding singletrack mountain biking. Maintained by the state park and the BUMP Club, the trails offer great biking from novice to expert.

Loving this singletrack!!
Day: 25

With all due respect to Talladega, there just ain't nuttin like the speed and challenge of the trails at Oak Mountain State Park. This is another place that I nearly missed. Now I know that I've been going on and on about all the singletracks I've been riding lately but this one was one of the most formidable rides I've had yet. It isn't surprising to find that it received a prestigious nod from the International Mountain Bike Association as an Epic Ride. There are perhaps only 5 dozen trails/areas in the world with such an honor.

Dupont State Forest was my last great ride out in North Carolina. While those trails were mostly cross country style riding with mild to moderate, Oak Mountain was mostly moderate to very difficult. Some trails seemed positively impossible until you see a great rider cruise right up and down. Clearly I have a long way to go.

The trail as it crests the mountain
Trail maps can be purchased for 50 cents at the trailhead. It would be wise to have one with you as you wind through the web of trails. Note that biking trails are shared with hikers but some trails are reserved only for hikers and horses. If you're caught with a mountain bike on those trails, you will be fined. At any rate, there's plenty of good trails for anyone so it doesn't matter. (Print this map or bring one with you)

There's a North Trailhead and a South Trailhead and a great option for a loop bike which essentially includes everything. I stuck to mostly the southern routes and had a mix of tough rides and nice flow-y easy stuff. Starting at the South Trailhead, I worked my way up Mt Toad's Wild Ride. This was rolly but with little real elevation gain and loss. It was a perfect warm up. From there it was a long climb up Jekyll and Hyde. This ride is appropriately named- the lower section is the Jekyll; lots of elevation change but the ride is pretty smooth and do-able. The middle and upper part of the trail is loose, rocky and with lots of roots. It is a very difficult section that's probably better ridden downhill than up. It was a "hike a bike" for me.
There aren't many views on the trail but that won't matter when trying to make it down Jekyll and Hyde
At the top, I took a long breather and watched some better bikers cruise right down the trail that kicked my ass. I need a better bike...

Continuing up the BUMP Trail, Connector and West Ridge was similar to the latter trails but with less steepness. West Ridge actually gave me some tough trails that improved my riding. I found that the flatter but still technical rocky trails were enough of a challenge to help my riding without being a total "hike a bike". West Ridge can be continued on the Red Road to the North Trailhead. Getting back south involves some comparatively flatter trails with plenty of twists. I actually took the BUMP Trail down to Johnsons Mountain Trail- my best riding of the day.

Johnsons Mountain is a relative newcomer to the BUMP trails and it is well designed for more of a cross country style ride. It has some challenging turns and climbs but not quite as severe as Jekyll and Hyde, West Ridge and Boulder Ridge. Its a great ride to finish your day down at South Trailhead.

Clearly I've just scratched the surface of this well-developed and well managed mountain biking park. The BUMP Club seems to a fine local club of hardcore riders and weekend warriors interested in keeping Alabama as a destination for mountain bikers. I'm so glad I didn't skip out on this area.

Read. Plan. Get Out There!