For the record, I live a couple of blocks from the trail on the northern end in Daphne. I have ridden the trail many times and twice all the way from Daphne to the end of County Road 1 south of Point Clear (around 25 miles one-way). It definitely has its share of positives and negatives. But if you come knowing what to expect, it can be a nice ride. The southern end has been lengthened it appears all the way from scenic 98 to Weeks Bay to the east, although I have not been on this section.
First of all, this is a very busy area for traffic. The trail runs right along scenic 98, along the shoulder of the road. In most places, it just replaced the sidewalk which was already there. The concrete was widened to 6 feet in these areas I suppose to qualify for the funds for a trail.
Most of the negative comments people have said is true. People will park on it, even though they are not supposed to. They leave their garbage cans on it. There are places where there may be short areas of sand or gravel across the trail to traverse. There are many street crossings, some very busy, depending on the time of day. Some places there are bad sections of concrete that need attention, but I have noticed most of these have been fixed. There are also a few significant hills, mostly near Alligator Alley, south of Montrose and north of Fairhope. South of Fairhope is fairly flat.
The trail is also very beautiful in many places, mostly around Montrose, Fairhope and Point Clear, with many large oak trees hanging over the road, nice views along the bay, rolling hills with nice bridges over the creeks. Also the trail runs right through the middle of Fairhope which has many interesting shops and restaurants. You might also want to check out the pier in Fairhope, which is one of the most photographed areas in the county. That is if you can make it back up the hill!
I think since this trail was first certified, the section from the USS Alabama Park to Alligator Alley in Daphne has been dropped since it was too dangerous riding across the bay on the shoulder of the causeway. It appears the official starting point is now at Alligator Alley since the mileage markers now begin at this point. If you do start your ride at this point, be forewarned. There is a steep 70 foot hill you will immediately have to deal with! Another option would be to start at Lott Park in Daphne and head south to avoid the hill and traffic.
This trail is used a lot by locals, so watch for walkers, runners and other bikers.
Also, just as a note, this trail is probably not best suited for a road bike, because of curbs and gutters, unless you ride from Fairhope south. There, it is mostly asphalt. I would recommend a hybrid bike instead.
Some interesting points along the trail include Alligator Alley, the United States Sports Academy, Bayfront Park, Village Point Park Preserve in Daphne, the tiny 1890 post office in Montrose, the floral clock, downtown Fairhope, the Fairhope Pier and Beach, the Grand Hotel in Point Clear and Weeks Bay Preserve.