20 Feb

5 Great Hikes of Alabama’s Gulf Coast

Hiking trails provide great opportunities to walk, enjoy refreshing natural beauty and see a variety of wild plants, trees, migratory birds and wild animals. Trails can also provide several educational benefits. In Mobile, Alabama there are several trails available for hiking, and here are 5 of the best.

1. Pine Beach Trail

Pine Beach

Pine Beach Trail offers you an exciting hike through several kinds of habitats such as sand pine scrub, oak mottes, sand dunes, beaches and fresh and salt water marshes. This trail stretches out for two miles along the Little Lagoon and the Gator Lake, and it connects the Pine Beach to the Jeff Friend Trail. It also has an interpretive kiosk that provides bird lists and trail maps. A wide variety of birds can be observed during migration including the yellow-rumped warbler, palm warbler, magnolia warbler, American redstart, red-eyed vireo. During winter, you can see the peregrine falcon, bald eagle, and red-breasted merganser, at the western shore of the Little Lagoon.

photo credit: cmpalmer via cc

2. Weeks Bay Nature Trail

Weeks Bay Reserve

Weeks Bay Nature Trail is part of the Weeks Bay Reserve. This national estuarine research reserve was established as a living laboratory for long-term estuarine education. Weeks Bay estuary is located on the eastern shore of the Mobile Bay and it has several habitats with many native plants and animals. At the interpretive center, you can see laboratories where ecological research is available for public viewing and for educational programs. There are also live animal displays and collections of regional plants and animals. The West Bay has several nature trails that wind through forests, marshes and wetlands.

photo credit: NOAA Photo Library via cc

3. Redoubt Trail Loop

Redoubt Trail Loop

The Redoubt Trail Loop is 6.1 miles long and it is located close to the Spanish Fort in Alabama. You can bring your dogs or horses while you use this trail. It does not matter whether you are beginner or an experienced hiker; this trail is great for any skill level. Redoubt Trail Loop has very beautiful scenery with few inclines for you to climb or descend. On this trail, you will see the site of the last battle of the American Civil War through a self-guided historical tour. A few of the little bridges have worn out so you may get wet while you are crossing some of the little streams on the trail.

photo credit: AllTrails.com

4. USS Alabama Historical Trail

USS Alabama Trail

This is a unique trail that loops past several historic buildings and old museums in Mobile, Alabama. Although the USS trail does not take you through a typical forest with a lot flora and fauna, it provides a lot of educational benefits. USS Alabama Trail was created as the badge and medal hike of the Boy Scouts. It has a length of about 6.5 miles which starts at the Welcome Center in Forte Conde. It takes you through a long squiggly loop as you get to see virtually all the historical attractions and museums in this part of the city. Some of the attractions include: the Catholic Basilica of Immaculate Conception, the Cooper Riverside Park, and the Old City Hall (now transformed to a museum).

photo credit: Alaskan Dude via cc

5. Jeff Friend Trail

Jeff Friend Trail Bon Secour

This trail is a major part of the Bon Secour National Refuge for Wildlife. It was established to protect and preserve migratory birds. But on the northern side of the Little Lagoon, you can gain access to a couple of natural beaches. The trail is just one mile long and it has nice gravel paths and some wooden walkways which pass beside lagoon beaches at the Childress Point. You will also pass through inland marshes and the maritime forest. In the forest, you can see thickets of pine trees, oak trees, palmetto bushes and wild flowers. Several benches and informational sign posts are available throughout the trail.

photo credit: ken ratcliff via cc