This is the loop recommended by the park office to those who want to try all of the bike trails in the park. The loop features narrow and rustic singletrack with a lot of small-to-medium rocks and a number of roots in the trail bed. There are also sections of smooth singletrack where you can pick up some speed. You'll come very close to the highest point in Alabama—a short diversion down the paved main park road will get you there.
If you want a view, you'll have to visit the tower on the summit of Cheaha Mountain (not on your bike). The mountain bike trails are all under dense forest coverage.
The entrance fee to the park is $5 (2018).
Park near the main entrance. The trailhead is just before the fee gate on the right.
The fun starts right away on Cheaha Express
(yellow blazes), which is filled with rocks and roots. After 0.3 miles, take the right fork onto Deer Run
(purple/pink blazes) where the rocks and roots continue as it contours along the side of Cheaha Mountain among some large boulders. Deer Run
is pretty narrow and there are a few short water crossings from springs higher up on the mountainside. Deer Run
ends at Lower Spring
(blue blazes) just after you pass a small creek with several cascades. A footbridge is provided over this creek since it is a little bit wider than others.
When you come to the Lower Spring
, turn right to begin a steep 200 foot climb. Near the end of this climb, Lower Spring
reaches a T-intersection with Upper Spring
(green blazes). Turn left and follow Upper Spring
back around to this same point. (Keep right at the next four intersections, passing a second intersection with Lower Spring
and following Cheaha Express
for a short distance at the western terminus of Upper Spring
is an easier trail but it still has its share of roots and rocks along with one major creek crossing followed by a steep climb. Once you've come full circle on the Upper Spring
, continue straight to the second intersection with Lower Spring
. This time, turn left onto Lower Spring
is probably the most difficult trail in the park. From Upper Spring
, the trail descends steeply to the intersection with Deer Run
, where you'll have the same steep 200 foot climb from Deer Run
to Upper Spring
. The downward leg follows a rushing creek on the right and passes through a tunnel of rhododendrons.
After you've climbed the steep 200 foot hill on Lower Spring
for the second time, turn left on Upper Spring
again and follow it until Cheaha Express
Turn right on Cheaha Express
and follow it to the short Cheaha Run
(white blazes) loop near the top of Bald Rock Mountain. Cheaha Run
is the easiest trail in the park, with fewer roots and rocks than the others; it is also pretty flat so you can easily pick up some speed on this loop (watch for other trail users).
At the end of Cheaha Run
, turn right and take the rest of Cheaha Express
a short distance until it ends at the park road. It's worth a short detour to the right on the road for the view at Bald Rock Mountain if you haven't been before. (Note the path out to Bald Rock itself is foot traffic only).
After that, turn around and take Cheaha Express
down to the start. There is a somewhat difficult section that climbs through an area with large rocks embedded into the trail as you approach Cheaha Mountain. Around the back of the radio tower there is one rocky area where you might have to dismount to pass. This is also your opportunity to take the Express Connector
past the tower up to the Cheaha Mountain summit if you want to check out the view. On the way down, there are some sections of smooth and fast singletrack, as well as some more rocky and rooty technical sections. While you can carry some speed in areas, watch for uphill riders, foot traffic, and equestrians, which all share this trail.