Oak Mountain is a trail that you will spend significant time to get to when you are craving just one good ride that incorporates almost every kind of riding style. This 17 mile loop offers several varieties of trail type and every variety of singletrack fun.
Directions to Oak Mountain
Oak Mountain State Park is located just off of I-65 in Pelham, AL. Take exit 246 and turn west onto AL Hwy. 119 (Cahaba Valley Road). Almost immediately, turn left (south) onto Oak Mountain Park Road. Travel approximately two miles on Oak Mountain Park Road. You will pass under I-65 and come to a 4 way stop. Take a left at the 4 way onto State Park Road (John Findley Drive) and enter the park. You will pass a golf course on your left. Take the first right onto Terrace Drive and follow it until the road turns to gravel. Before you get to the gravel, turn into the parking lot on your right. You are at the south trailhead! map: Google Maps Link
Oak Mountain Trail Stats
Classification: Cross Country
Trail Difficulty: Whoa! Air Time! (medium)
Traffic: Hey Dude! (low)
Oak Mountain Trail Review
Many mountain bikers require multiple trails to satisfy the cravings that we get for different types of riding. However, when we speak of “destination” trails, trails that people will travel significant distances to get to, we generally end up discussing trails that offer many varieties of riding in one area. The Red Loop at Oak Mountain State Park fits squarely into the category of a destination trail. Though primarily a cross-country trail, this 17 mile loop will give you a taste of almost everything that mountain biking has to offer. The highlights include miles of flowing singletrack, a white knuckle doubletrack downhill with multiple creek crossings, and one of the most infamous rock gardens in the southeast. The best part is that you get all of this trail goodness just a short distance from a major metro area and the entire trail can be enjoyed without having to be an expert rider.
Oak Mountain State Park contains over fifty miles of trail but the only trail open to mountain bikers is the Red Trail, also known as the Double Oak Trail. The entire 17 mile loop is well marked with a red blaze (how did you guess?). There are two main trailheads, the south trailhead on Terrace Drive and the north trailhead on Findley Drive. The most popular way to ride the trail is to park at the south trailhead and ride in a counter clock-wise direction. The south trailhead has the benefits of extra parking, bathroom facilities, and a separate 1.5 mile beginner’s and family trail.
The loop is broken up into several distinct sections and several of these sections have very interesting names. You begin with “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” and “Foreplay”, both short sections of flat and flowing singletrack. This will be your warm-up to “Johnson’s Mountain”, a 2 mile section of hilly wooden singletrack that starts your climb up to the main ridge. The next section was built by the Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers and is known simply as the “BUMP Trail”. Here you will find the majority of the climbing up to the ridge of Oak Mountain. At the top you will encounter the infamous rock garden known as Blood Rock. Blood Rock is wet and slippery year-round and very difficult to climb. It is also intimidating but surprisingly rideable in the downhill direction. This area is a very popular spectator spot during BUMP’s annual Bump ‘N Grind mountain bike race. Take a look at this video to get an idea of what it feels like to not ride Blood Rock .
Take a left turn at the top of the Blood Rock section to begin the 5 miles of doubletrack known as the “Red Road”. This section will allow you to catch your breath from the climb up the “BUMP Trail” and will also show you some of the beauty that Oak Mountain holds. The second half of this section will satisfy your craving for speed with a 2.5 mile decent that includes 8 armored creek crossings that can give you a surprise launch if you are not careful. As always, pay attention on the downhill and the creek crossings because you will likely encounter hikers and other bikers slowly making their way up to the ridge. This video will give you an idea of what the decent on the Red Road looks like:
The next section of trail provides a chance to shake out your hands and enjoy pure, basic singletrack. Be on the lookout for wildlife in this area. You will also see portions of the park development, including the primitive camping area and the RC car race track. You will also have to cross one paved road and ride on a dirt road. Water is available in the Day Use area after you cross the paved road. The trail is well marked in these areas and you should have no problem finding your way. Use this section to rest up for the final push to the finish.
The last singletrack section is known as “Seven Bridges” and contains 8 bridged creek crossings (I bet you didn’t guess that one!). This section is approximately 2 miles long and contains wooded singletrack climbs with good flow. You will end at Terrace Drive where you will turn left and climb less than a mile to get back to the south trailhead. The final section on Terrace Drive is the only paved portion of the trail in the entire loop. Be wary of vehicle traffic on Terrace Drive, especially during the summer. Keep your eyes open to see the park beach, lake and dam. A quick stop at the beach is very tempting after a summer ride.
Oak Mountain is a well known destination for mountain bikers and is one of the most well built trails in the southeast. The best feature of the trail is pure and simple singletrack and the beauty of an Alabama forest. However, the variety of riding that is packed into this loop will surprise you and leave you wondering where the 17 miles went. This trail will provide excitement for any type of rider and is a beautiful example of what southeast mountain biking has to offer.
I founded Bike198 back in 2007 and started riding bikes seriously in 1994. A lot has changed since that time and one of the greatest releases is still getting out on the bike and shredding trail or tearing up the road.