Approximately 16.5 miles long, the trail (red trail blazes) is one loop made up of about equal parts of singletrack and fire/forest/paved roads. Ride either direction on the trail. The former training grounds of the US Olympic Mountain Biking Team and the Russian Women's Mountain Biking Team, the trails are varied and are heavily ridden. Dedicated as multi-use trails, expect to see riders of all ages and abilities, as well as hikers, back-packers, kids, dogs, etc., anywhere on the trail. Recent trail changes have replaced some of the older, deteriorated sections with new ones modeled after the award-winning rides at Tsali Recreational Park in North Carolina. Please note that bikes are only permitted off road on the red trail. Fines are available from any park ranger for being caught on any other trail with a bike (whether you are riding or not!).
The red trail at Oak Mountain is one continuous loop, but is loosely made up of the following. These are not separate trails, but portions of the overall loop.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Singletrack running counterclockwise along the loop from the South Trailhead approximately.85 miles. Mr. Toad's is all singletrack through the woods, and ends at the junction of the bike trail and the horse trail, next to Peavine Road. No hills to speak of, there are a couple small bridges, some tight turns, and a few narrow spots between trees. Very smooth and flowing.
Continuing counterclockwise along the loop from the horse trail to the bottom of Johnson's Mountain, Foreplay is also all woodsy singletrack. Only 1/2 mile long, Foreplay is also very smooth and flowing, and contains one sharp S-turn followed by a short bumpy downhill to the bottom of Johnson's Mountain. Go straight across the gravel lot at the bottom to get to Johnson's Mountain.
Johnson's Mountain is approximately 1.9 miles of hilly woody singletrack. The first section crosses a bridge (very slick when wet or muddy), follows a creek, then climbs to the spine of Johnson's first ridge. Hundreds of manhours of trail work in 1997 by B.U.M.P. created a route that makes a steady climb and quick descent along Johnson's other two ridges. This improved section is modeled after the excellent trails at Tsali Recreational Park in North Carolina.
Turn right onto Peavine Road (gravel road) at the bottom of the trail, and travel about 0.1 mile to the B.U.M.P. Trail on the left. Look for the trail marker on the left as Peavine Road bends uphill to the right.
If you wish to shorten your ride by approximately 2 miles over the entire loop, you can bypass Johnson's Mountain by heading up Peavine Road at the bottom of Foreplay until you see the B.U.M.P. trail on your left after approximately .5 miles. Watch for cars traveling both directions on this narrow gravel road.
Named after the Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers cycling club which built and maintains the Oak Mountain bike trails, the B.U.M.P. Trail is singletrack that climbs about 1.25 miles to the Red Road at the top of the ridge. B.U.M.P. is hilly but smooth at the bottom, and rocky, technical, and a bit steep at the top. A fallen tree, "Blood Rock," and a set of tight, rocky switchbacks mark the upper part of the trail. ("Blood Rock" is named after a red trail blaze painted onto a sharp rock next to the trail). Riding down it is challenging, but fairly easy to master. Riding up, which only a relatively few expert riders can do, is the acid test which says you have completely mastered Oak Mountain. An excellent downhill ride if coming from the other direction (clockwise around the loop), B.U.M.P. is one of the most technical sections of the red trail.
Turn left onto the Red Road at the top of B.U.M.P.
The Red Road is a fire road leading approximately 4.75 miles counterclockwise from the top of B.U.M.P. the whole way to the North Trailhead parking area. The last 2.5 miles are a heart pounding downhill, with 7 creek crossings made smooth by mortared flagstones placed by the Civilian Conservation Corp decades ago. Your bike can easily get inadvertently airborne over these crossings (use your head and ride within your abilities!!!). Keep control of your bike, because the Red Road is heavily used by hikers, bikers, and large groups of walkers, especially near the bottom. Please ride responsibly, don't scare the natives, and be prepared to stop at any time.
The Red Road ends at the North Trailhead parking lot on the main park road. To continue on the bike trail, turn left approximately 100 yards before the gate at the end of the Red Road and follow the red trail markers across the bridge.
Red Road (North Trailhead) to Group Primitive Camping Road
The total for the next three sections is approximately 2.75 miles long. Individual mileage will be added shortly.
Red Road to Cabin Road
This section of trail is un-named as of yet. Woody, smooth singletrack running roughly parallel to the main park road. One moderate climb at the end places you at the park road leading to the cabins.
Cross the cabin road (paved) to continue on the bike trail.
After climbing to the top of the ridge from the cabin road and descending to the foot of the hill, look for the remnants of a cabin (especially the brick chimney) on your right. This singletrack trail takes you through tight turns where roots grab your wheel and trees grab your handlebars. After crossing a wooden bridge, look for the remote control car track on your left. About a hundred yards later the trail crosses the Day Use Area park road. Water is available at the Day Use Area from a spigot at the end of the pavement by the big field.
Cross the Day Use Area park road to continue on the bike trail.
Riding through these bottom land hardwood forests provides a great opportunity to see some white-tailed deer. The eponymous rock garden is challenging, and passing through with grace and style is an art. Rock Garden ends with a short climb and descent to the Group Primitive Camping Road.
Turn right onto the Group Primitive Camping Road to continue on the loop.
Group Primitive Camping Road
Approximately 1.6 mile long, the Group Primitive Camping Road is a dirt access road suitable for cars. The singletrack picks up again on the left almost at the end of the Camping Road. You will see a locked gate at the end of the road when you need to turn left onto the singletrack.
NOTE: Some people drive their cars along the main park road and park at the end of the Group Primitive Camping Road to begin their rides. It is an alternate place to start and finish. The gate is almost always locked, but it must remain clear. Make sure you don't block access to the gate when you park.
This is the final section of trail. Approximately 1.9 miles of largely moderate uphill, this woody singletrack is very similar in nature to Mr. Toad's, with a little more uphill grade. It ends on Terrace Drive (the paved road on the way to the South Trailhead). Turn left onto Terrace Drive to get to the South Trailhead.
Terrace Drive to South Trailhead
This is paved road, which passes the paddle boat house and the BMX track on the way to the South Trailhead parking area. Approximately .85 miles, watch for crowds (in the summer and weekends especially) and cars with distracted drivers on this road.
Final note: There are 2 main places where people park and start a ride. Most park at the Main Park Office. It has more facilities and conveniences than the other places to park. The North Trailhead parking and riding in the Counter Clockwise direction is very good. This starts the ride with a warm-up on woodsy singletrack and ends it with a long fast down hill. It is also convenient and close for many to drive in the back gate and park.