The Best of Birmingham Mountain Biking


Tannehill Historic Ironworks State Park

This day had started out as an hike to get outside and play with my new 18-105mm camera lens since the heavy rain two days previous had us thinking the mountain bike trails would be closed. We headed out towards the furnaces to learn some history and take photographs in hope to dial in this new lens. As we were checking out one of the historical building we came across two mountain bikers heading toward the other side of the river. My husband yelled to them in hopes of grabbing their attention. It worked, they turned around and rode toward us. The two men had ridden here before and stated the trails were open and that they drained quite well. We thanked them, then looked at each other, smiled and headed back to the van.

Mountain Bike in Birmingham

We collected our bikes, changed, and rode toward the trailhead. We rode across the bridge to the Pig Iron trial. We rode it counter clockwise as there is no set direction and we had no idea which direction provided the best ride. We climbed up some rolling hills until we met the ridgeline and the IMBA trail. This short 0.92 mile trail had a few large rocks to turn into jumps and some fast flowing downhill. We then re-climbed back up to the ridgeline and rode over to the Iron Runner Trail. This 3.77 miles of trail allowed us to fly down the mountain on fast flowing trails that snaked through a beautiful dense forest. This like any trail can be as gnarly as you want! There is always a rock or root to turn into a jump. We were having so much fun at one point Lee let me try his new Kona bike, the 27.5″ process 134 all mountain bike. I jumped on it and for the first time that day was nipping at his heels instead of him having to wait. This ended quickly when he started riding on obstacles that made my bike cry out in pain. At the next flat section I insistently gave him his bike back knowing that if he continued to ride my bike I wouldn’t have a mountain bike much longer. Bull in china shop. We finished the Iron Runner trail and met back up with Pig Iron. This speedy flowing trail zigzagged down the mountain side like a grin inducing roller coaster. It was a blast. The only down side to this ride is the $5 a person fee, but at least you get a map with admission. I would ride here again and try out more of the 16 miles of trail it offers. There is camping here too.

Mountain Bike in Birmingham

Oak Mountain State Park

Due to the endless rainy weather and the amazing hospitality of Lee’s best friend we stayed in Birmingham an extra day. As a result we added Oak Mountain to our places to  mountain bike. It was about a 30 min drive to the park from Birmingham. At the gate we were greeted with a $5 a person charge and an extra $1 for a map. My husband paid the $10 but politely refused the map. The lady told us there was 2 trailheads and gave some loose description of their locations. I looked at my husband puzzled, so you just paid $10 to mountain bike but won’t pay $1 to know where to park and what trails to ride. So we drive down the park road and take our first right up a steep paved road until we see kiosks for the south trailhead, but there was no parking. So we drive a little further and still no south trailhead parking. So, we turn around and head back to the main road to seek out the North Trailhead. The north trailhead is about 8 miles down the main road on the left. We arrive there to an empty parking lot and a really nice pit toilet. It was pristinely clean, stocked with toilet paper, and had no lingering aroma of bodily waste. We geared up and headed over to the kiosk, we took a picture of the trail map and headed out on the 18 mile red trail. The red trail begins with a climb up a very rocky jeep road with large areas of washout and multiple creek fords some with water that was calf deep. As water and mud splattered all over our backs, legs, and buttocks we climbed up this steep jeep road to the ridge line.

Mountain Bike in Birmingham
Here is where we met the Boulder Ridge Trail that veered off the red trial. Oh, yes it had a huge warning sign saying advanced riders only and that it was a very difficult trail which only made my husbands desire to ride the trail amplify by the minute. My husband is advanced and I am intermediate. I moaned and thought well I guess I will be doing some hike a bike today. Oh and I did for most of this technical trail was comprised of tight handlebar grabbing trees and large engaging rock climbs with impossibly steep chutes and no distinct trail in site. Longest 1.5 miles ever!! We met back up with the red trail for awhile and then was greeted with another trail decision, stay on the red trail, take another advanced trail, or take an unnamed intermediate trial. I  immediately shot down the advanced trail option and opted for the intermediate trial that seemed to go down the ridge. The intermediate trail was fast, flowing, and very rocky. It was FUN! Since it was not named we have no idea what trail we rode. We ended at the gate to Camp Tranquility and the beginning of the Lightening Trail, the best trail in my opinion. I opted out for the large wooden bridge jump since I have not mastered jumping my bike. Then we ripped down the trail. It was a super fast and flowing trail filled with steep long down hills, large table tops, and screaming berms. A true roller coaster ride I didn’t want to end, but it did. We again met up with the red trail and rode towards the south trailhead, I was determined to find this parking lot. We rode for what seemed quite a long time meandering our way on the very root ridden red trail. Then it appeared ahhhh the mysterious south trailhead where all the mountain bikers cars were parked. If we had just gone up the paved road another mile past the south trailhead kiosk, we would have found it! The south trailhead is where most of the trail system is located and the red trial originates. We rode Mr. Toad wild Ride and then due to time had to head back to the van. All in all we rode about 16 miles. We were exhausted!  So if you decide to ride here pay the $1 for the map it is well worth it! These two trail systems are maintained by the BUMP club.
Mountain Bike in Birmingham
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