This ride combines an old paved road with newer flow trails and older 1930's CCC-era trails. You'll traverse the southeastern section of the Monte Sano plateau at 1600 feet elevation and experience some of the more technical trails Monte Sano has to offer along its slopes. Be sure to soak in the breathtaking views of Big Cove and McKay Hollow at O'Shaughnessy Point and watch out for hikers throughout this ride, although the trails on the slopes are not as heavily used by hikers.
This entire ride lies on land owned by Monte Sano State Park. You may occasionally hear gunshots on the Goat, Keith, and Logan Point trails, but do not be alarmed as the hunting is on adjacent private land. The trails are fairly well-marked or obvious but they can be difficult to navigate when covered in leaves.
This ride begins at the "Blockade" (a gravel parking area on Bankhead Pkwy near a hairpin turn) and starts by going up a closed paved road for 1.3 miles. At the top of the mountain, a scenic overlook of the Great Sinks Valley and Panther Knob awaits you. On the other side of the parking area, take the North Plateau loop to the Park Office and on down to the gravel Hikers' Parking Lot. If needed, a park trail map can be obtained at the Park Office.
From the parking lot, take the South Plateau Loop
(left at the first fork), cross the wooden bridge, and continue past the intersection with the Sinks Trail
at the road. Turn left on the easy, flat, and flowing Family Bike Trail
and continue on it past the Bog Trail
until you reach the Fire Tower Trail
. Turn right on the Fire Tower Trail
and then turn left on the Family Bike Trail
. This is probably the most flowing section of singletrack you'll find on this ride.
As you get closer to O'Shaughnessy Point, the flow gives way to tighter curves and dumps you out on the South Plateau Loop
. At the 4-way intersection, take the short path on the right to the South Plateau Loop
and then take a left on the South Plateau Loop
to O'Shaughnessy Point. If it's a nice weekend, you'll probably encounter other mountain bikers, hikers, and rock climbers enjoying the views, resting, or having a picnic at O'Shaughnessy Point. The easy part of this ride is about to end, so you may want to rest here as well.
The rest of this ride is very technical and not for the faint of heart. This will take you through one of the more remote areas of the park. Start by descending down the Mountain Mist Trail
from O'Shaughnessy Point until you reach the intersection with the Goat Trail
, just past a badly eroded section of Mountain Mist. Continue your descent down the Goat Trail
(with its 4 switchbacks). After the fourth switchback, it begins to level out until it reaches the connector with the Warpath Ridge Trail. Continue straight on the Goat Trail
, and cross the two SORBA-built wooden bridges and continue past the Flat Rock Connector. You are in a remote area now and more than 3 miles by trail from the nearest trailhead.
Continue for about 1.6 miles on the Goat Trail
to the Chestnut Trail. This 1.6 miles includes rock gardens, rock-armored sections, and a few sections that only the most skilled riders can handle without walking. You may occasionally see deer, goats, and other critters on this segment. Turn right on the Chestnut Trail, which is smooth but steep in some places. This is a short trail that comes out on the Keith Trail
. Turn right on the Keith Trail
, crossing several streams and somewhat eroded sections, as well as a couple of hike-a-bike spots. After about a mile, you'll intersect the Logan Point Trail
, and take a right turn on the Logan Point Trail
The Logan Point trail has a number of eroded sections and one long uphill section that only an animal can ride. After the long climb, you'll end up on a wide, old wagon road. When dry, this section is easy; when wet, prepare to get muddy. After a short, somewhat eroded descent, you'll come out on the Sinks Trail
and then ascend up the Sinks Trail
towards the northern end of the Mountain Mist Trail
. Once at the Mountain Mist Trail
, turn right onto it and head towards the closed paved road that you started out on. This portion of the Mountain Mist Trail
is much easier and wider than the southern end of it, but it does have a few eroded sections. Once at the paved road, ride back down it to the parking area.
Although the majority of the trails on this route are newer trails, the old paved road was originally used for automobile traffic into the park until unstable soil eventually caused it to crumble apart. This road was built by the CCC during the 1930's to provide access to the park, which opened in the mid-1930's. At one time, the Sinks Trail
was opened to equestrian use, as well as the Logan Point Trail
. Portions of the Mountain Mist, Sinks, and Logan Point trails were once wagon roads that provided access from Huntsville to Gurley and the Dug Hill area.