1. Beach Cruising: Alabama's Coastal Connection
Distance: 4 miles out-and-back Difficulty: Easy This is an excellent trip alongside the beautiful sugar-white beaches and turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The route uses a section of the wide bike lane of Highway 182 between the Gulf State Park Pier and the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail Rosemary Dunes Trailhead passing the unique architecture of the Gulf State Park Beach Pavilion. You can start at the either the pier or at the Rosemary Dunes Trailhead. The advantage of starting at the Backcountry Trail is that an outfitter, Beach Bike Rentals is located right there, so you don't even have to bring a bike.
2. Recreational: Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail
Distance: Over 28 miles of trail options Difficulty: Easy to moderate (if you do a long trip) Winding through the “backcountry” of Gulf State Park is the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, a series of eight paved multi-use trails of varying lengths that travel through six different ecosystems. It's a wonderful opportunity to ride through longleaf pine forests, past shimmering freshwater lakes, coastal wetlands, and marshes. And you never know what animals you may see: White-tailed deer, coyote, bobcat, and even alligators can be spotted from the trail. The paths give you plenty of options for long and short trips and are perfect for both families and more-experienced road bikers. There are only a few minor hills to contend with, but nothing severe. The trail has six restrooms and two water fountains either on the trail or just off the trail. A favorite mid-level trip is a 3-mile loop beginning at the Orange Beach Sportsplex on the Twin Bridges Trail to the Power Connector Trail, Rosemary Dunes, Catman Road, and back to the trailhead on the Twin Bridges.
3. Fort Morgan Road Trail
Distance: 10.8 miles, out-and-back Difficulty: Moderate The Fort Morgan Road Trail is just a nice pedal from the intersection of Alabama Highway 59 and Highway 180 at the Rouses Shopping Center to the Peninsula Golf and Racket Club, a distance of 5.4-miles (one way). Before heading off be sure to fill up on some delicious beignets and coffee at Café Beignets located at the starting point. From the shopping center the trail is a wide multi-use path that parallels Highway 180 to the west, but most of the trip is well off the road behind a barrier of trees. The trail is good for families since it is a nice, paved, level track, but to do the entire length a round-trip with children would be difficult. Consider doing a short segment with them. At the 4-mile mark there is a “rest stop”—the Island Quik Mart convenience store where you can pick up drinks, snacks, or use the restroom.
4. Coyote Crossing Trail
Distance: 3.2 miles, round trip Difficulty: Easy Another great multi-use route, the Coyote Crossing Trail, is the latest addition to the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. The path parallels Alabama Highway 135 and State Park Road 2 from Highway 59 to the Backcountry Trail's Gulf Oak Ridge Trailhead. We prefer to start at the Backcountry trailhead and head west to the Gulf State Park Headquarters and return. Even though the trail parallels the two highways, for the most part it is tucked away between a nice barrier of trees and is a good distance from the road.