|Helena, AL||Dirt Roads||Beginner - Intermediate||30+ Miles||Free|
The Cahaba River Wildlife Management Area is privately owned, public access land in Shelby and Bibb Counties between Helena and West Blockton. Roughly bordered by County Roads 91, 13, 17, 21, 24, 65, 54, and 10, the Wildlife Management Area is clearly land that was once heavily mined and later reclaimed. Deep quarries dot the area, and gas well caps stick up at regular intervals. Most of the land belongs to USX Corp, and still is "worked" and used on occasion, but has been provided for recreational use. This property is criss-crossed with many miles of dirt roads, fire roads, and singletrack.
There are many openings into the CRWMA, but this seems to be the closest to major roads.
Everyone on the Wildlife Management Area must have a current, signed permit with them at all times. This permit contains a site map and lists all rules and regulations for the area. The permit also lists all hunting seasons and times, so it is a good reference tool to know when to ride and when not to.
Permits are free, and can be picked up at the WeeMart on CR 52, approximately 6 miles from the junction of Hwy 261 and 31. To get to the WeeMart take 261 South 5.9 miles to the junction with CR 52. Turn right on to CR 52 West. Go 4.5 miles and the WeeMart is on the left side of the road. You will cross the Cahaba River, pass Rt. 13 on your left, and the WeeMart is approximately 3 miles further on the left. If you get to South Shades Crest Road (at the light) you've gone too far.
Free roadside parking is available in multiple locations in the Wildlife Management Area, depending on where you want to start your ride. Some turnouts and short side roads are also available. Be aware of private property which borders the main road. It is generally well marked.
The main roads are unpaved but suitable for any rugged vehicle. "Regular" automobiles can travel them, but the ride is a bit bumpy. Be aware of ruts and deep holes filled with water, especially after any rain.
Camping is permitted with a permit from the Wildlife Management Area.
The Wildlife Management Area is very popular with hunters and trappers. Expect to see hunters anytime throughout the year, but especially in the fall. Hunting schedules vary, but peak in Autumn and early Winter.
Because of the hunting, be cautious in this area. Wear bright colors and avoid peak hunting seasons. A bell attached to your bike is a good idea (Antlers attached to your helmet is a BAD idea...). Because spotlighting is not permitted, do not be surprised if you are stopped by a game warden if you are night riding.
If you ride an off-road tandem, or if you enjoy "off road" road rides, this is a great place to ride. The roads are hard-packed clay with small potholes and ruts. Mountain slicks are totally in their element here. 35+ MPH is easily possible, and riding the entire access road loop should provide about a 3+ hour ride.
From Rt. 91 in Coalmont (near Helena), the main road heads roughly southwest for approximately 6 miles and eventually ends up on CR 10 near Boothton. Turn left on CR 10 for about 1/2 mile, the make another left back onto the trail. Take this 4 miles, to where it will turn into CR 260 into Brantleyville. In Brantleyville, turn left onto CR 270 for about 1/4 mile, then get back onto the trail. Take the trail for about 2 miles, turn right at the "T",which will take you back to the end of CR 91 after about 2 more miles.
There are also side spurs heading into Dogwood Church from CR 260 near Brantleyville, and another that connects Boothton to CR 13.
Starting at the end of CR 91 in Coalmont, take the main road about one mile to where it runs along the top of the ridge. Take the first right down the black coal road (you can tell which one is ok because it does not have a gate), which will drop you into the valley to the right of the ridge. There are numerous side trails, and some interesting doubletrack in that valley region. I have not found any loops back to the main road, nor any singletrack or doubletrack loops.
There are numerous side roads and small trails leading away from the main access roads. Most dead end at gas wells or former strip mines. Only a few travel for any distance, and virtually none loop back to the main road. However, exploring can be interesting, and you will get a workout going up and down the hills into and out of the various valleys.
In an effort to prevent unauthorized vehicle access off the roads, the land managers have been erecting large mounds of dirt and rocks, and have been digging deep trenches (we're talking like 4' wide and 6' deep!), across road and trail entrances. BE CAREFUL OF THESE TRENCHES! They may look like simple low spots on the trail if they are filled with water. Hitting one at any speed would almost surely damage or destroy equipment and cause possibly serious injury!
contact any of the Birmingham area bike shops for details.
The information on this page provided
courtesy of BikeBirmingham
Thanks to Steve
The information has
not been field checked by me nor any one from
Alabama Mountain Biking in several years
Please send corrections, additions, or comments to
Aaron's Alabama Mountain Biking