Biking Trails & Maps in Gulf Shores, Alabama
Alabama is blessed with 32 miles of the “Whitest Sand Beach In The World” here the world is your oyster. There is so much to see & do in the 3 communities of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan you may never leave, thousands before have made that life changing choice. Enjoy our beautiful and scenic pathways from the World Famous FloraBama Lounge at the Florida Line to the East, to Historic Fort Morgan to your west.
Here you will find one of America’s Most Scenic Drives with a multitude of stops along the way for sunbathing, a quick dip in our beautiful Gulf of Mexico, Freshwater Lake Shelby, Little Lagoon or Historic Mobile Bay. You will also be pleased to know you won’t go hungry with a wide variety of dining and liquid libations options along the way. Enjoy! Relax! Take in all Pleasure Island and Alabama’s Gulf Coast has to offer.
*** The Following Information is provided by the State of Alabama from the Backcountry Trail Brochure***
Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail
Beauty & Diversity of The Backcountry Trail!
Seven trails among six distinct ecosystems make up more than 15 miles of the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail complex through Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Alabama and the Gulf State Park.
Explore the timeless beauty of the Butterfly Garden, the mystical Freshwater Marshes and the Coastal Hardwood Swamps. Catch a glimpse of a Bobcat on the Twin Bridges or a White-Tailed Deer on Gulf Oak Ridge.
Parking and Trail Access
Length: 1.9 miles
Trail end points: Campground Road, north of Little Lake to Highway 161 and Marina Road
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
On the eastern end, a parking lot is available at the Marina Road Trailhead.
The Catman Road Trail
is one of several in the Hugh Branyon Backcountry Trails network in Alabama’s Gulf State Park. It directly connects to several others: Twin Bridges, Rattlesnake Ridge, Cotton Bayou and Rosemary Dunes for a seamless ride through the park. The flat, easy route follows a former roadway through coastal scrubland and pine trees.
On the eve of the Great Cat Hunt, the medicine man gave his warriors a sip of serum, instilling tremendous strength and stamina. Legend recounts a story of an overzealous, young warrior that crept into the medicine man’s hut and drank a bottle of the potent concoction. It was said that he was last seen on the morning of the hunt running away from the village with a pack of wildcats. The natives mourned his disappearance but soon after stories emerged of a Cat-Like-Man.
Decade’s later local fisherman tell the tale of the Catman stealing their bait and fleeing into the Backcountry Trails. Others claimed the Catman was watching them through the woods when gathering berries or chopping wood. One local alleged to see the Catman drown an alligator to prevent it from attacking a wildcat.
Legend has it that when exploring the Backcountry Trail, if you listen for the whispers, a rustling in the leaves and keep a sharp eye out you might catch a glimpse of the legendary Catman.
Several sites in the park used by Native Americans, possibly thousands of years ago, and early American settlers from the 1700’s, developed into hunting trails, paths and logging roads. The Backcountry Trail rediscovered these paths, to include the Original Catman Road, and speckled them with amenities. The screened Pavilion is a perfect site for a picnic before wandering through the nearby Butterfly Garden or a peaceful place to gather for a group meeting.
Gulf Shores Bike Trail
In 2012, the City of Gulf Shores announced plans to partner with the Alabama Department of Transportation to extend the Gulf Shores bike trail to connect with over 11 miles of the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. The bike trail currently stretches from Highway 59 along the north side of Fort Morgan Road, to the Peninsula residential and golf community. This expansion will take the trail from its current location and extend it across Highway 59 into the Gulf State Park where it will connect with the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail at the Gulf State Park Golf Course.
Rosemary Dunes Trail
a backcountry filled with lush cattails, wild flowers, tall pines and you, while biking, hiking or jogging along the winding natural habitats of Rosemary Dunes. Catch a glimpse of the American Alligator sunbathing along the banks of the marshes. Keep an eye out for our resident gator “Lefty” or watch for a variety of reptile species who have made their home in our beautiful park.
The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is named for long-time Gulf State Park Superintendent Hugh Branyon, who managed the park from 1970 until retirement in 2009. The Trail was recently designated a National Recreation Trail in 2010 and is a part of the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail and the Coastal Connection National Scenic Byway.
Gulf Oak Ridge Trail
the magnificent canopies of ancient mossy oaks atop the Islands highest bluff, 34 feet above sea level, while twisting and turning along the mystical trail of the Gulf Oak Ridge. Embrace nature’s element of surprise peaking around the bend when you approach the Overlook. Be sure to pause for a moment of silence and soak in the majestic view of the picturesque valley below.
As one of the last remaining maritime forest communities along coastal Alabama, this treasure is a preserve for many of the area’s native wildlife and serves as a lifeline for millions of migratory birds, providing essential food and shelter. Designated as a stop on the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail registry, the park is considered excellent for bird watching and is especially spectacular during the spring and fall migration.
Cotton Bayou Trail
and visit the Cotton Bayou Trail. The new trailhead is located on Hwy 161, across from the tip of Cotton Bayou waterway and behind the Publix Shopping Plaza. This once sandy path nestled in the Gulf State Park has recently been paved to meet the foundations 2013 goal, bringing the vision of the interior network near completion.
Travel the lush pine laced trail with sweeping 12-foot wide curves to connect further into the park and tour the other Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails. Intersecting at Catman Road, you can choose from a few daily activities; picnic at the Pavilion, climb the Boulder Park, relax in the Butterfly Garden or take a tour onto Rosemary Dunes and visit the alligator habitat sunbathing along the banks of the wetlands.
Cotton Bayou functions as a transportation alternative to the Gulf State park’s campground village and cabins providing easy access to the shopping and entertainment complexes without ever getting on the highway.
Fort Morgan Trail
The beginning of the Fort Morgan Trail is only 2 blocks from TIKI’S BIKE SHACK. Head north two blocks at the red light hang a left and you’re on your way. The trail begins just south of the Rouses Supermarket with ample parking & approximately 1.8 miles west of Gulf Shores Parkway (Hwy. 59) lies Lagoon Park (18068 Fort Morgan Road) which offers parking, restrooms, and drinking water. The park is located on the south side of Fort Morgan Road (Highway 180). Located on Little Lagoon it’s the perfect place to stop for a picnic, a dip in the protected waters or just to wet a hook.
Not far from the trail’s eastern end and only another 2 blocks from the Tiki Shack, you can extend your adventure on one of several Hugh Branyon Backcountry Trails through Gulf State Park.
Twin Bridges Trail
the hand-built wooden bridges of the coastal backcountry, nestled between the countless species of native plants and wildlife. Find tranquility on this one-mile stretch linking the east trails of Catman Road, Rattlesnake Ridge and Cotton Bayou to the west trail of Gulf Oak Ridge. Rest and recharge on one of the many dedicated benches speckled throughout the park while spotting a red or gray fox, possibly a coyote or even the simplicity of a squirrel nibbling on a nut.
The journey over the Twin Bridges carries you into the heart of the native land and shares the beauty of familiar but rare ecosystem. Each habitat defined by its distinct diversity initiating a dialogue between man and nature.
Rattlesnake Ridge Trail
wet pine flatwoods, scrub oaks and palmettos covering acres of sandy swells. Catch a gopher tortoise forging Rattlesnake Ridge, an armadillo, named for its armored shell, digging for an afternoon snack or a woodpecker drumming to make its mark.
Explore the natural beauty of the trail, and the home it makes to many reptiles and mammals alike, while observing indigenous wildflowers, such as orchids and carnivorous pitcher plants. Spend a day of adventure relishing in the uniqueness of our diverse coastal landscape.
Coyote Crossing Trail
the Backcountry Trail between two sister cities is the newest addition to the Gulf State Park, Coyote Crossing. The 2-mile stretch starts at the Gulf Oak Ridge trailhead and winds west all the way to Hwy. 59, where a crosswalk allows access to the paved path running five miles down Fort Morgan Road. Its name, derived by a combination of entries from Facebook fans, gives homage to the wildlife indigenous to our coastal region. Avid enthusiast can now travel from west Gulf Shores all the way to Orange Beach without ever getting into a car, touring 40 miles round trip on safe and scenic paved paths.
Coyote Crossing is a highlight to this exceptional trail system and was made possible by a Trail Enhancement (TE) Grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation, paying 80% of the construction costs. The city of Gulf Shores funded the remaining 20% of construction and design expenses to complete this vital section and provide visitors access to some of Alabama’s most unique and diverse natural environments while enjoying the many wonders of the Gulf State Park.
For your safety, please keep the following rules in mind when visiting the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail
- Non-motorized vehicle use, only.
- Absolutely No Fires or Smoking – Wildfires May Result!
- Pets must remain on a leash at all times.
- Keep to the right! Be mindful of patrol and maintenance
vehicles, giving them the right of way.
- 10 mph Speed Limit – No “road training” allowed on the trail – it is not designed for high-speed road biking.
- No Littering. Please dispose of litter or dog refuse in provided bins.
- DAYLIGHT HOURS ONLY – No Camping Allowed.