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Level: Intermediate
Length: 60 mi (96.6 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +1,487/ -1,425 ft
Total: 133 riders

Mountain Biking Monte Sano State Park & Land Trust

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#15 of 97 mountain bike trails in Alabama
#1,346 in the world

Monte Sano offers a network of trails to make just about everyone happy. You'll find a web of over 60 miles of trails crisscrossing more than 3,700 acres of public property and some private property on the mountain. On the top of the mountain smooth and relatively flat trails await you, while the more adventurous can take the plunge off the plateau. There you'll find plenty of rocks to make you fully appreciate your suspension. Plus, there are short and medium length verticals that will either pump your legs, or numb your hands.

Monte Sano State Park contains the best variety of trails on the mountain. Families can ride down the gravel road to the old fire tower, or even continue on the flat double track of the South Plateau Loop to the overlook at O'Shaughnessy Point. For those that want fun, flat and flowing single track, the Bucca Family Bike Trail is the route to take. It meanders along the plateau out to O'Shaughnessy Point and back. Out towards O'Shaughnessy Point, you can even stop and visit the old fire tower. If the trail gets to be too much, there are a few bailout points on the gravel road allowing a quick escape to the gravel road and the easier portion of the South Plateau Loop.

To get a taste of what you'll experience off the plateau, take a quick lap around the North Plateau Loop/Fire Tower Trail loop. In 1.2 miles, rocks, roots, and short climbs expose you to what lies below. So if you can handle this you're ready for the plunge. However, like the Bucca Family Bike Trail, if it gets to be too much, you can easily take a quick detour to campground road. If you're ready for more intermediate fun, try the fast descent down the Sinks Trail from the biker's parking lot. Keep on the Sinks Trail after you get to its first intersection with the Mountain Mist Trail. It will work its way back around granting you exit on the easier half of the Mountain Mist Trail.

Now, if that doesn't satisfy your appetite, or you're just ready for more advanced and technical riding then read on. The southern half of the Mountain Mist Trail rolls along just under the cliff line of the plateau. Plenty of rock and technical features abound. Also try out the Goat Trail, which includes our best rock gardens, switchbacks, rock armoring, and wooden features. The Keith Trail and the Logan Point Trail together feature some of our better climbs and flowing technical aspects. Cold Springs, McKay Hollow, and Warpath Ridge, feature highly technical downhill sections, or ascents--depending on which way you go. Some parts are double black diamond and may involve hiking your bike.

For long sections of advanced riding, the Land Trust's side of the mountain has it. Try out the long climb/descent of the Fagan Spring/Wildflower to Toll Gate to Cold Springs Trail combo. You can work your way from the bottom all the way to the top of the mountain. It starts off as tight technical rocky single track then changes to rough old road bed (1800's toll road) and back again. If you can make the whole thing you are an animal. The Toll Gate-High Trail-Bluffline loop features everything from tough climbs to fast and technical contour single track to crazy downhill with plenty of drops.

Those who want epic rides won't be disappointed either. From the Land Trust Parking Lot and Trailhead on Bankhead Parkway, follow this route: Toll Gate Trail to High Trail to Bluffline Trail to the South Monte Sano Trailhead on Monte Sano Boulevard. From the South Monte Sano Trailhead, take the Arrowhead Trail to its final end at the Natural Well Trail (the Arrowhead and Natural Well trails intersect three times), and then take the Natural Well Trail to the McKay Hollow Trail, which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930's. Take a right on the McKay Hollow Trail and continue for about a mile along the natural bench in the mountain until the trail begins a 0.75-mile ascent up to the South Plateau Loop (there is some hike-a-bike on this section). Take a right on the South Plateau Loop to O'Shaughnessy Point and take the Mountain Mist Trail down to the Goat Trail. Then take the Goat Trail past the Warpath Ridge Connector and continue to the Flat Rock Connector Trail. Take the Flat Rock Connector to the Flat Rock Trail, and turn left on the Flat Rock Trail. Take the Flat Rock Trail all the way out to Flat Rock and continue on back to the Land Trust Parking Lot and Trailhead.

The suggested "Epic Route" provides 18 miles of advanced technical riding and is not suitable for beginners. You'll conquer at least three long climbs, and of course, descents to match, along with numerous rock gardens. When the Flat Rock Trail is wet and during hunting season, skip the Flat Rock Trail and incorporate any of the trails inside the State Park into your route; most of the Flat Rock Trail runs on private hunting land and is closed during hunting season. You can get as much as 50 miles of riding with minimal repeat of any trail, even during hunting season.

An exhaustive map of all of the trails on Monte Sano Mountain is available from the City of Huntsville website at http://www.huntsvilleal.gov/gis/gis_maps/pdfs/MonteSanoTrails.pdf. Note that this map does not indicate distances or difficulty levels of the trails. The Monte Sano State Park map indicates difficulty levels for all of the trails within its jurisdiction but it is slightly outdated as all of the trails are now open to biking. Hiking is also allowed on all of the trails on Monte Sano.

While riding be sure to look out for the 300 ft. Natural Well along the Natural Well Trail, the many sink holes, the above ground caves called the Stone Cuts, the overlooks of the valley below, and of course, the wild goats, deer, squirrels, and snakes that are often encountered on the trails. If riding on the Flat Rock Trail, be sure to check out the geological formation known as "Flat Rock".

Some of the trails have some historical significance. The McKay Hollow and Natural Well trails were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930's, before Monte Sano State Park was first opened. Parts of the Sinks Trail, Mountain Mist Trail, and Logan Point Trail were originally part of an old wagon road that connected Huntsville with Ryland, Maysville, and Gurley before the advent of the automobile brought about the construction of the paved roads that are now used for that purpose.

Most of the Fire Tower Trail and South Plateau Loop were originally parts of a carriage road system that led to the homes of Robert Fearn and James O'Shaughnessy, who lived on top of the plateau during the 1800's. The ruins of these homes can be accessed from the Fire Tower Trail, where historic markers provide additional information about them. Ruins of the historic Monte Sano Railroad and the Hotel Monte Sano can also be seen at various locations on the mountain. A number of springs and spring house ruins also dot the sides of the mountain, and running waterfalls can be seen during the spring and fall at a number of locations. The Monte Sano State Park and Huntsville Land Trust websites (as well as rangers at the State Park campground office) can provide additional information regarding the rich history of the mountain, which dates back well before the American Civil War. Additional landmarks on Monte Sano include the Burritt Museum and Park near the South Monte Sano Trailhead on top of Round Top Mountain, which hosts a few short trails as well as the historic mansion built by local physician Dr. William Burritt early in the 1900's.

Those who prefer more modern history and thrills may want to take a trip into town to visit the US Space and Rocket Center.

First added by TzwSVsOw on Dec 31, 2002. Last updated May 8, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
Take US 72 East (University Rd). You will come to a traffic light at a 5 point intersection. Go Straight across and up the mountain. You will come to the top and straight ontop of the mtn for a few hundred feet. Turn left onto the first road on the left and go into the park. Go into the back and you will find a parking area and baricade on the road. Ride the road down to the lower trails.
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Monte Sano State Park & Land Trust Trail map

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Trail conditions

Good (on Apr 17, 2023)
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Advanced | 4 mi

Rider questions

Q: Any jumps on this trail?
A: Not really any man-made jumps but lots of air opportunity with all the rocks. The landing can be a bit tricky.

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  • kenwrightjr   ✓ supporter

    The only reason I give this a 3 is due to not being familiar with the trail and of course, I have never seen a trail MORE rocky in my life. Goodness. I had a couple of crashes early in my rides and landing on solid rock is a bit harder than dirt. lol. I plan on riding this a lot more and Im sure my thoughts will go up as I learn more. In fact, I look forward to learning this trail more each time I ride.

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  • rick417

    This was a tricky trail system for me to understand as a person just passing through for a couple days. I can say the trails inside the state park were very well marked and I could understand the online trail map. The Land Trust trails were difficult to know what was best for biking. I took a trail beyond my ability and ended up pushing most of it until I got to a trail junction, and rode that one easily. Signage at the junctions of the Land Trust trails are well marked. If you can join up with someone who knows the trails, I think that would be the best way to tackle them (unless you're an advanced rider who needs a rocky challenge).

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  • Midmoab

    We were able to ride mountain mist thsis past weekend and absolutely loved it. I would have loved to ride more but we were pressed for time. I consider myself an intermediate rider and found this trail quite rider friendly. It was in great shape. Views are incredible.

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  • bike_pilot

    Intense on expert trails. Great climbs flow is nice switchable could be more thought out. the trails weren't in the best shape. Saw two snakes there. Pretty sweet day

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  • ****

    Great ride. Slow trails but enjoyed the change from fast paced trails.

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  • Trousershorts

    Great trails, nice flow on Bucca Family, N and S Plateau loops, not to mention plenty of rock gardens to torment yourself on. Trail maintenance is fairly decent but lower elevation trails, especially towards the end of Warpath, don't have the best drainage; I believe most of these parts are out of the park's boundaries, though.

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  • *****

    Great ride and good workout

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  • Midnight_Specialist

    Monte Sano has something for every rider. Bucca Family trail is easy with some small climbs and a nice flow. The trails that go off mountain (Mountain Mist trail, Sinks trail, Goat trail, Cold Springs trail, Warpath Ridge trail) are much more difficult. Sharp rock gardens are everywhere, not that that is a bad thing. The scenery on any of these trails is stunning year round.

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  • jaredmcvay

    Something for everything out there≥ Great ride, and you can go for hours (if you don't have a problem with double black diamond) and never touch the sail trail twice.

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  • goonie72

    Monte Sano is my local trail network, as mentioned in some other posts it has something for everyone at all skill levels. There is plenty of riding to be done out here. Plenty of trails that will take you deep into areas where you may not see another person, and some that stay in the more populated parts of the park. Definitely worth checking out if you are within descent driving distance. I don't think anyone would be disappointed with a trip here. Trail maps are provided at the entrance, $2 M-F per person, $3 on the weekend. Or you can park down on hairpin turn and ride up into the park.

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  • annistonfire153

    The only time I've ridden this trail was during the Alabama Mountain Bike Series race. It smooth and fun at the beginning and then turned rocky and technical. Still a good ride.

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  • JDH

    This was my first time riding Monte Sano trail system, I rented a bike from Bicycles Etc. and rode from the LBS up Bankhead PKWY to Tollgate Trail. One of the guys at the LBS said that Tollgate was a fun technical climb, it turned out to be a 2.5 mile up hill rock garden! Jumped onto Cold Spring Trail to the north "The Sinks" trail. The start of the Sinks trail is a mad, steep, rock filled down hill, it was a blast (better have great brakes). Rode all the trails over by the Sinks (Kenith Trail, Logan PT Trail and so on), walked the bike back up the Sinks north trail and just had to ride back down, again and again and again. Rode Mountain Mist Trail around to Fire Tower Trail and worked my way to the south part of "The Sinks" Trail and rode the Kenith/Logan loop again to hit the north part of “The Sinks” a few more times. Headed back down Cold Springs (found a cool water fall on the way down) to Tollgate and bombed down the rock garden as fast as possible. In all 6 hours of great riding, enjoyed every minute of the trail system! Great place to ride!

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  • r0b0t1c

    Monte Sano has a lot of variety to offer. They have the really simple "Family Bike Trail" but they have the trails for the more daring and more technical rides the "The Sinks". I love coming out a riding because there is always a trail to ride depending on how i'm feeling for the day.

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  • steelbr1

    I noticed that this trail system is listed as 10 miles of doubletrack. Don't be mislead. Although, there is some doubletrack available, the entire trail system shouldn't by any means be considered doubletrack. One example, the goat trail is a great example of the singletrack one can expect to find on Monte Sano.

    I recently acquired a GPS and have started making tracks of some of mnt top trails as well as the lower eastern trails (mountain mist / sinks).
    Currently, I'm in the process of reviewing the rules for submission, and I'm making the necessary adjustments to my tracks before submitting them.

    I also hope to collect much more data that will include the land trust trail system.

    These trails are great and a perfect mixture of fun and challenge awaits.

    Here is one of the local bike shops tips. (select rides, the look for land trust or Monte Sano)

    Here is a great map of the Monte Sano/Land Trust trail system.
    Warning some of the trails are very technical and descend several hundred feet very quickly.


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  • tommy

    Love this trail. When I go to my grandparents house, who live on Monte Sano I always go and ride it. Very rocky but the challenge is outweighed by the fun. Your on top of a mountain how call is that.

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