I have a secret for you. There are sneaky good bike trails in Huntsville, Alabama. The state has many great rides from the hills of Mt Cheaha to the waterfront views of Gulf Shores to cruising the mighty Chief Ladiga Trail. Cycling in Huntsville has elements of all of these rides with long greenways and a network of bike routes. Along the way, you’ll challenge Alabama’s longest sustained climb, roll by the largest natural spring, and through the highest concentration of antebellum homes in the state. If you don’t think Huntsville is a destination bike city, think again.
Rocket City is notorious for short greenway segments that don’t connect to anything. There are grand plans for complete streets, greenway networks, and bike routes that crisscross all of Madison County. Some might say you need a local to show you around. Don’t worry. We have you covered. I have ridden every ride in this guide, and they’re all just outside our door. Now, a bike trail might be a combination of a greenway, bike route, and neighborhood road, but we’ll get you out, riding, and having fun. This guide is primarily for road riding, but don’t worry, if we have a Huntsville mountain biking guide too.
Huntsville Bike Trail MapBelow is my map to bike trails in Huntsville. I added parking in the recommended parking areas as well as dropping pins at significant waypoints along the route. The trails are segmented and color-coded to match corresponding sections of this article. If you don’t see the map below be sure to refresh browser 😉
Big Springs Park Greenway / Twickenham Tour (6.8 miles / 415′ gain)
Without a doubt, Big Springs is the heart of Huntsville. It’s the largest natural spring in Alabama, pumping out nearly 20-million gallons a day. It’s the reason John Hunt settled here, the reason the Alabama constitution was signed here, and the reason you’ll find Alabama’s oldest bank and Masonic Lodge in Rocket City. If you’re visiting Huntsville, be sure to take a 1-mile lap around Big Springs Park, whether you’re walking or renting a bike from the Blue Bikes bike share. Every visitor should come through downtown at least once on their trip.
However, if you’re a rider, there’s no need to fuss with parking downtown. My secret spot is Lewter Park. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a safe place to park for Big Springs or Monte Sano. Work your way up and over Fagan Springs to Hermitage Ave (Bike Rt 54) and follow the bike route into Big Springs Park. I like to take the way through the park (clockwise) nice and slow to check out the scene. I exit the park at Spragins and work my way through Courthouse Square and Twickenham. You’ll want to check out the bike map in this article for the exact route because there’s a lot to see and many one-way streets. The points I laid down let you see:
- First National Bank
- Constitution Hall
- Weeden House
- Helien Lodge
- Pope Mansion
- Old Town
- Five Points
You’ll join back up with Clinton Ave (Bike Route 51) after your scenic tour and return to Lewter Park, having completed a 6.7-mile loop with just over 400′ of climbing.
Monte Sano Climb (Bike Route 60) (13-miles, 1170′ gain)
Climbing Monte Sano is Huntsville’s signature ride. It’s Alabama’s longest sustained climb gaining almost 1000′ over 4.3 miles at a steady 8% grade, but it’s so much more than that. You’re under tree cover for nearly the entire trip until the very end when you reach the panoramic Monte Sano lookout adjacent to the CCC Museum and Memorial. Plus, drivers know to look out for cyclists (as long as you’re not on 431 / Governors), and the 1.3 miles on the paved Bankhead Trail through Monte Sano Park is exquisite. If you’re a rider, you want to try this one!
The start of this ride is fairly arbitrary, but I like to direct people from Lewter Park. Beginning here, head over to Pratt (Bike Route 60) and start climbing. Pratt quickly turns into Bankhead, but you keep climbing 3 miles to the hairpin turn where Bankhead turns into Fearn. Continue straight into Monte Sano Park, where there is a $5 honor pay box for day use, and ride through the park. Maybe I’m cheap (or honest), but I usually bypass the park. However, if this is your ‘one ride’, you have to do it. Either way, once you summit Monte Sano, you’ll want to keep riding on the broad, flat mountain top and make a loop on Panorama Drive and return home. This route is 13-miles, with 1000′ of gain. If you want more, it’s only 1 mile farther to Burritt on the Mountain from the far end of Panorama Drive.
Chapman Mountain (Bike Route 70/64) (9.5-miles, 900′ gain)
You can climb Chapman Mountain from either side, but I say, why not both? From almost anywhere in Huntsville, it takes the same time to reach the Trailhead Parking as it does to reach Oak Park. I always end up starting at Trailhead, so I’ll describe the ride from there.
You start with a 1-mile loop on the Trailhead Greenway. It’s a smooth and beautiful warm up before tackling one of the steepest sustained climbs in Huntsville. Bear down, gear down, and tackle Harris Hill to get to High Mountain Road. You’re in a million-dollar neighborhood with a million-dollar view. Be sure to turn into Hawks Ridge to summit Chapman Mountain before dropping down Oakwood to Oak Park.
Getting back requires a little route finding. Oh, you could take Epworth and Bike Route 70 but, between the corrugated concrete on Epworth and riding on the frontage road of US 72, that’s just not fun. I take the pedestrian bridge across Dallas Branch (Dallas Branch Connector) that takes you to Chapman School / Rueben Drive. From there, I work my way through the neighborhood (check my map) until I make my way to Saddle Tree Blvd, which climbs up to join back with High Mountain Road. In all, this ride is almost equivalent to climbing Monte Sano in height and distance, but it comes in shorter, steeper climbs. You can cut it in half pretty easy, or use it to double down on Monte Sano. Either way, it’s a solid climb with safe roads and great views.
Aldridge Creek Greenway / Tennessee River Greenway (12.5 miles / 130′ gain)
Aldridge Creek Greenway connects to the Tennessee River Greenway at Ditto Landing to form a relatively flat 12.5-mile out-and-back trail system with plenty of water views and a couple of active farms along the way. Unless you’re planning on hanging out in Ditto Landing, you’ll want to start at the Aldrich Creek Greenway Trailhead off Mountain Gap Road (Behind the Publix). If you want to add twelve more miles, this link shows how to connect bike route 59 to the Aldrich Creek Greenway.
From there, cross over the creek on the sidewalk and access the greenway on the west side of Aldridge Creek. Head south first and cruise 3.6 miles creek side until you reach Ditto Landing and the Tennessee River Greenway. The greenway is a little rough until you get to the campground, so you might be better off riding on Ditto Landing Road. Either way, it’s 1.6 miles to the trail’s end at the Whitesburg Boat and Yacht Club. If you flip it at the boat club, it’s 5.2 miles back o Mountain Gap Road.
If you’re feeling tired or running out of time, head back to your car now. If not, continue on the 2.4-mile out-and-back to the trail’s unceremonious end on Bailey Cove Road. I would love it if Aldridge Creek Greenway connected through to the orphaned trail segments between Weatherly and Chatterson or even Jones Farm Park Trail or Atwood Linear Trail. Until then, I would just flip it Bailey Cove and go back to the car.
The Full Monty (60-miles, 3560′ gain)
Map lovers would look at my bike map and ask – can you link the Big Springs, Monte Sano, Chapman Mountain, and Aldrich Creek rides together? Yes, yes, you can, and I call it ‘The Full Monty.’ I would start from Oak Park Park (is that like an ATM machine?) and ride the full Chapman Mountain Loop before tackling Monte Sano. Avoid bad pavement and a 14% grade on Oak Park Dr by taking either Chambers Drive or Douglas Lane to Bankhead. I like Douglas just a little better because I love that climb on Bankhead.
When you summit Monte Sano, go ahead and tack on Burritt on the Mountain because… sufferfest. Turn off on Toll Gate on the way down the mountain so you can join up with the Big Springs route at Dill St. However, just before you reach Big Springs Park, it’s time for a gut check. You finished almost all of the climbing.
Are you ready for a 14-mile out-and-back that’s almost flat? (28-miles round trip). If yes, turn left onto Gallatin Street and follow the signs for Bike Route 59 to the Aldrich Creek Bike Trail. Be sure to check my map to see where it goes and to see if you like my minor modifications. Also, note that the entrance to Aldrich Creek isn’t obvious at all. Flip at Whitesburg Boat and Yacht Club and return back to downtown.
If you’re happy with only a 30-mile trip (aka “The Half-Monty”), turn right onto Gallatin Street and work your way back to your car at Oak Park.
Either way, you have a mellow little ride through downtown to get back on the second half of the Big Springs route. Take Clinton all the way to Maysville Rd, then cut the corner at Bid-A-Wee. It’s just a little bit nicer on the interior route to Oak Park Park. Congrats, you’ve done the Full Monty (or maybe only the Half Monty).
Big Cove Creek Greenway / Flint River Greenway / Little Cove Greenway (15-miles, 300′ gain)
We love, love, love biking these greenways! Big Cove, Flint River, and Little Cove form a smooth, scenic, and safe ride on Huntsville’s longest continual greenway. You’d want to start at the Big Cove Creek Greenway parking area if you’re coming from almost anywhere in Huntsville. The lot is just off Little Cove Road behind the Publix center. From there, head south 1.5 miles on the trail through the Hayes Nature Preserve’s heavy woods until you reach the Flint River. Cross over the river, and you’re on the Flint River Greenway (technically, it started .2 miles back, but there’s no need to be too nerdy). From there, the trail follows the river back up several superb vistas until you reach the Flint River Greenway parking area.
The next .8 miles will be kind of tricky until they complete construction on Old 431 (estimated Spring 2021). Once the road is completed, or when there are no workers present, you take Old 431 north (left) until you reach Cove Park. From there, head to Little Cove Road and look for the trail running west (left) along the road’s south side. Follow this 500′, and you’ll reach a pedestrian underpass that lets you safely cross Little Cove Road. You could loop back from here, but it would only be 5.5-miles of riding. Instead, continue east on Little Cove Greenway to its terminus at McMullen Cove before returning. To get the maximum trail distance, head north from the Big Cove / Little Cove trail junction for a short one-mile out-and-back ride before returning to your car.
Bonus Section 1: Watson Grand Hill Climb – 4.4 miles out-and-back with 750′ of hill climbing on Watson Grand Road.
Bonus Section 2: Hampton Lake Walking Trail – 2.2 -mile loop around Hampton Lake on a narrow sidewalk.
Indian Creek Greenway (9.4 miles, mostly flat)
Indian Creek Greenway is a beautiful trail, running alongside Indian Creek but way too short. The entire trail is only 2.9 miles long, but here’s what I do. I start at the south end at the parking area off Madison Pike. You have to take the sidewalk across Indian Creek to access the trail, but that’s ok. From there, I head north but exit at Farrow Road for a 4.6-mile loop on Explore Blvd through Research Park (Bike Route 60). If you exit northbound and look counter-clockwise, all you have are right turns at intersections.
If you feel like seeing something super nerdy, check out McMillen Park Double Helix Trail in the middle of Research Loop. It’s an interpretive trail of a DNA strand with signage that tells you what each gnome controls. Only in Huntsville! Park rules prohibit riding on the helix, but it’s fun to look at from the road. Rejoin the Indian Creek Greenway after a lap (or two) take it through the disc golf course to its end before returning to your car.
Bradford Creek Greenway / Mill Creek Greenway (7.2 miles / mostly flat)
Bradford Creek Greenway is a virtual twin of Indian Creek Greenway. It’s on the short side, and the parking is just a bit funky. Oh, and you’ll see horses on both rides too! I would park at the south trail terminus at Palmer Park, but for some reason, the bike parking area doesn’t connect to the main park. Follow the signs, and you’ll be fine.
Head north from there, and be careful as the trail crosses roads at a couple of places. All too soon, you’ll reach the end at County Line Road. There are paths on either side of County Line but it’s uninspiring riding. To get your miles in, return back and follow the path alongside Mill Road to the Mill Creek Greenway. It’s short (1-mile each way), but I’ll take it, especially since it’s a significant portion of the total ride distance.
Basic Redstone Arsenal Loop (12-miles, 400′ gain)
Redstone Arsenal has the double secret Huntsville bike rides. They have hundreds of miles of both road, trail, and mountain biking routes. I drew up a basic route around Madkin and Weedon Mountains, but there are lots more out there. You could put in a full century and and never leave base. The key word there is base.
Redstone Arsenal is a military installation, so you need to get permission to enter before you can consider riding here. To do this, you need installation access badge and a background check from the visitor center. (link) Once you get that, you have to come on base. Gate 8 and Gate 9 are your best bets for weekend access. Also, you need to follow the Redstone Arsenal cycling rules. Some of these are common sense, like wearing a helmet. Others are less intuitive, like Rideout Road (between Gate 9 and Martin Road) is off limits to cyclists between the hours of 0600-1700 Monday-Friday and Martin Road (between Patton Road and Rideout Road) is off limits to cyclists between the hours of 0600-1700 Monday-Friday.
These rules keep out the casual cyclists, but long weekend rides make it all worthwhile.
Final Thoughts on Bike Trails in Huntsville
If you’re a rider coming to Huntsville, I hope I have inspired you to bring your bike. If you live a short drive away, cycling in Huntsville makes a good excuse for a weekend getaway. If you’re a local (or considering moving here), the bike trails in Huntsville will get you out and exploring the Rocket City. Each of these rides change with the season, from spring bloom to fall foliage and everything in between. There’s always a season and a reason to get out and ride.
Disclaimer: This post was made in partnership with Bicycle Cove. They’re my go-to bike shop in Huntsville, where I purchased my new mountain bike, bike accessories and go for tune-ups and repairs.
Remember to ride safely and read our bike disclaimer before you go
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