Length of trails: 20-30 miles
Difficulty: Beginner to Advanced
Maintained by: SORBA-Huntsville
Land Managers: Monte Sano State Park, City of Huntsville, The Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama, and Burritt on the Mountain
Description: Single track, and double track – Smooth beginner trail, and contour trails with medium length, steep climbs. Lots of rocks, and a few technical features and logs.
Directions: From I-65: Take I-565 east into Huntsville. Exit 19-C, and go left onto Washington. Make first right, at light, onto Pratt. Follow Pratt to top of Mountain. (Name of road changes from Pratt to Bankhead, to Fearn.) The Land Trust parking lot is half way up the mountain and on the right. At the top, proceed straight through 4 way stop and turn left at next stop sign onto Nolen. This takes you into the park. Signs for the park start at the base of the mountain.
From US-72 east of town: US-72 turns into I-565 once in Huntsville. Exit 20, and go straight onto Andrew Jackson. Follow this until you come to Pratt. There is a Hardee’s on the left, and AmSouth Bank on the right. Turn left onto Pratt and follow the above instructions.
From US-431 south of town: US 431 becomes Governors Drive in town. Once past Wal-Mart and Publix the road climbs. At crest of climb is Monte Sano Blvd., turn right. Follow past school, and fire station. Turn right onto Nolen Ave. Keep straight to go to the park. Make first left onto Fearn, and go down hill to go to Land Trust. Their parking lot is on the left.
Trails are normally closed for a day after a rain. Check with park if trails are too wet. 256-534-3757.
Monte Sano offers a network of trails to make just about everyone happy. You’ll find a web of 20-30 miles of trail crisscrossing the mountain. On the top of the mountain smooth and relatively flat trails await you, while the more adventurous can take the plunge off the plateau. There you’ll find plenty of rocks to make your fully appreciate your suspension. Plus there are short and medium length verticals that will either pump your legs, or numb your hands.
Monte Sano State Park contains the best variety of trails on the mountain. Families can ride down the gravel road to the old fire tower, or even continue on flat double track to the overlook at O’Shaughnessy Point. For those that want fun, flat and flowing single track, the Family Biking Trail is the route to take. It meanders along the plateau out to O’Shaughnessy Point and back. Out towards the point, you can even stop and visit the fire tower. If the trail gets to be too much there are even a few bailout points on the gravel road allowing a quick escape.
To get a taste of what you’ll experience off the plateau, take a quick lap around the North Plateau/ Fire Tower Trail loop. In 1.2 miles, rocks, roots, and short climbs expose you to what lies below. So if you can handle this you’re ready for the plunge. However, like the Family Bike Trail, if it gets to be too much, you can easily take a quick detour to campground road. If you’re ready for more intermediate fun, try the fast descent down the Sinks Trail from the biker’s parking lot. Hit the bottom and keep on the Sinks Trail. It will work its way back around granting you exit on the easier half of the Mt. Mist Trail.
Now, if that doesn’t satisfy your appetite, or you’re just ready for more advanced and technical riding then read on. The southern half of Mt. Mist Trail rolls along just under the cliff line of the plateau. Plenty of rock and technical features abound. Also try out the Goat Trail, which includes our best rock gardens, and wooden features. The Keith Trail and Logan Point trails together feature some of our better climbs and flowing technical aspects. Cold Springs, McKay Hollow, and Warpath Ridge, feature highly technical downhills, or ascents. Some parts are almost double black diamond.
For long sections of advanced riding, the Land Trust’s side of the mountain has it. Try out the long climb/descent of the Fagan Spring/Wildflower to Toll Gate to Cold Springs Trail combo. You can work your way from the bottom all the way to the top of the mountain. It starts off as tight technical rocky single track then changes to rough old road bed (1800’s toll road) and back again. If you can make the whole thing you are an animal. The Toll Gate-High Trail-Bluffline loop features everything from tough climbs to fast and technical contour single track to crazy downhill with plenty of drops.
Those who want epic rides won’t be disappointed either. From the Land Trust, follow Toll Gate to High Trail to Bluffline to Natural Well Trail to McKay Hollow to Warpath Ridge to Flat Rock Trail back to the Land Trust. This gives you 21 miles of technical riding. You’ll conquer at least three long uphills, and of course downhills to match. McKay Hollow has some hike-a-bike going up the plateau to the State Park. When it’s wet or hunting season, skip Flat Rock and incorporate any of the trails inside the park into your route. You can get almost 30 miles of riding with minimal repeat of any trail.
While riding be sure to look out for the 300 ft. Natural Well, the many sink holes, the above ground caves called the Stone Cuts, the overlooks of the valley below, and of course the wild goats. If that’s not enough take a trip into town to visit the US Space and Rocket Center, or try the advanced Trails at Wade Mountain. Enjoy the campground at the State Park, and the picnic area with its new playground.