“A full tour of DeSoto State Park Trails including a local favorite climb to start it off.”
— Shane Wallace
Guaranteed to please. These trails vary in terrain and difficulty. Some are very technical and others fast flowing. The Wades Gap climb at the start of this particular ride is a local favorite.
There are several places to park and start from. The route shown starts at a parking spot at the bottom of the mountain. There are also parking spots at the Lost Falls Trailhead, Country Store, Park Lodge, Gilliam Loop Trailhead and Picnic area.
Need to Know
Water is available from sites in the RV Campground, Country Store, or Primitive Campground. The Bonanza Burger at The Strand restaurant in Fort Payne is awesome.
Starts out with a short warm-up, then boom you hit Wades Gap. This climb has a lot of gradient changes with the steepest at the bottom and top. Finish this climb off and take a right at the top for a little more pavement until you reach the old Contact Station (Old Park Entrance). You'll find that the Knotty Pine Trail
flows right off the road to the right of the old CCC building. Take this short, technical trail with plenty of rock gardens. You'll go straight across a driveway and head on down singletrack until you come up to and intersection. Take a right onto the counter-clockwise direction of Never Never Land Loop
The flow on the Never Never Land Loop
is excellent. It features two creek crossings that even during heavy rains are passable. There are also two wooden bridge water crossings. The trail is hard packed in the summer with a couple of wet spots in the winter. There's a bypass trail in the middle that's clearly marked and accesses a backcountry campsite. Look for the old home place where you can spot a well and a chimney in the middle of nowhere. This area is covered with buttercups in the spring. Halfway through this trail, take a right onto the Vizzney Land Trail
. This is a machine cut section that loops back into the Never Never Land Loop
. It has a short kicker climb, but 90% is fast flowing singletrack. After finishing the Never Never Land Loop
, you'll come out of the woods where you can see the Lost Falls Trailhead across the road or the Campground Trail (Silver Trail)
to your right.
Now, take the Campground Trail (Silver Trail)
down to the Country Store area. This trail was originally a hiking trail, so you'll get plenty of roots on this one. There is plenty of technical riding on this section. You'll cross the RV Campground entrance road at the gate two-thirds of the way down. After some more technical riding, this route comes out on the road close to the Country Store. Stay on the road to the stop sign. Go straight across and stay right into the picnic area. At the back of the parking area and to the right is a powerline clearing. This is a short downhill with a wooden bridge crossing at the bottom. Continuing on straight, you'll top out a short kicker beside a rental cabin. Take a left in front of this cabin. This section is on an open grass area passing in front of a few other cabins ending back on the pavement by the lodge/hotel. Stay to the right and continue up the parking area.
As it transforms from parking to road, take the Chalet Trail
to the right. It is marked with an orange sign. This trail parallels the road and runs behind the chalets. One end terminates into the Gilliam Loop
Trailhead. The trails in this area were built with a trail machine. There is one gravel drive crossing on this trail before arriving at Gilliam Loop
. Turn right onto Gilliam Loop
just before you come out into the chirt parking area. This trail is a bi-directional loop trail. This is one of the non-technical trails at DeSoto State Park. When finished, you backtrack to the Country Store area at the point where you came out of the woods before.
Take a right onto the CCC Quarry Trail
directly across from the exit of the Campground Trail (Silver Trail)
. This trail is not as technical as the Campground Trail (Silver Trail)
but has it share of technical sections. It offers a technical section that goes beside the historical CCC Quarry, or an easier bypass route if you prefer. This is marked well with signs about halfway noting these options. Continue straight at the top for a few hundred yards, then turn left onto the Family Trail
. This is a fun fast section. At the end of this section turn right heading back up the hill. Cross straight over a chirt road and head down the Dragon's Tail
. This starts off with a rock garden but ends with flowing singletrack coming out at the Contact Station. Turn right on the road and head back down to Wades Gap, then on down to the start.
History & Background
This ride has lots of signs of the CCC era. Most of the buildings were built during that era. This is a beautiful park.