Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail


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Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail Facts

States: Alabama
Counties: Baldwin
Length: 23.4 miles
Trail end points: Gulf State Park and Gulf State Park (20115 State Park Rd, Gulf Shores)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Concrete
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 13306660

Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail Description

The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is a network of multiuse trails winding through Gulf State Park in southern Alabama. It is named in honor of Hugh S. Branyon, who was instrumental in developing and preserving the park. 

The ADA-accessible trail system covers over 23 miles and features a variety of landscapes, including coastal dunes, wetlands, pine forests, freshwater marshes, and wet prairies. Along the way, visitors may encounter a variety of wildlife, including alligators, deer, bobcats, turtles, and a variety of bird species. The trail network offers visitors a chance to explore the natural beauty and diverse ecosystems of the park. 

The trail system is made up of multiple interconnected trails, each with its own unique character and attractions. These trails include the following:

The Gulf Oak Ridge Trail (3.2 miles) winds through a maritime forest of live oaks and palmettos. This trail was an ancient corridor through the island, used by early native Americans, explorers, settlers and soldiers from nearby Fort Morgan. There is an overlook on this trail that offers great views of the unique wet prairie and the Gulf of Mexico.

The Rosemary Dunes Trail (1.6 miles) takes you through a relict dune scrub ecosystem. The trail is also home to a variety of plant and animal species, including the endangered Alabama beach mouse and the gopher tortoise. An eagle's nest can be seen by sharp-eyed viewers.

The Twin Bridges Trail (1.75 miles) through a pine savannah environment with a impressive pitcher plant bog a short hike from the paved trail. There is a "parkour" course for the kids on this trail near the Orange Beach Sportsplex trailhead, and the trail accesses the pleasant Hidden Lake Trail. The trail is a popular spot for bird watching and wildlife photography.

The Cotton Bayou Trail (1.5 miles) winds through a beautiful coastal wetland area, offering opportunities to see a variety of waterfowl and wading birds. This trail offers the best access to the Outpost, a primitive campsite with established wall tents for rent through Gulf State Park.

The Catman Road Trail (1.9 miles) follows a former roadway through coastal scrubland and pine flatwoods. This trail is named for a legendary "half man-half panther" creature that haunted these forests!

The Rattlesnake Ridge Trail (2 miles) is a unique trail constructed of the material that once was the original Gulf State Park Lodge, and connects to the Orange Beach City Hall and Museum campus. The trail is also home to a variety of reptiles, including the eastern diamondback rattlesnake.

Additional trails in the network (including the Coyote Crossing) connect various points of interest within the park, including the Gulf State Park Pier, Lake Shelby, the Pavilion, the Gulf State Park Lodge, and the Gulf State Park Nature Center.

There are several trailheads located throughout the park that provide access to the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, including the Gulf State Park Campground, Gulf State Park Nature Center, and the Catman Road Trailhead. These trailheads offer amenities such as parking, restrooms, and drinking fountains.

The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is an expansive multiuse trail network that provides visitors with a chance to explore the captivating scenery and abundant wildlife of Gulf State Park. Visitors can take in the picturesque views and experience the park's natural splendor.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available at several trailheads throughout Gulf State Park, providing convenient access to the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. Visit the TrailLink map (20115 State Park Rd, Gulf Shores) for all options and detailed directions.

Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail Reviews

Enjoyable Bike Trails for all abilities

We spent 4 days biking all the trails in the Gulf State Park - returning to many trails multiple times. The trails are in excellent condition, there are several areas to stop, relax and view the natural areas you’re biking through. The boardwalks are impressive and well maintained. This is a top-notch biking area and if we’re ever in the area again, we will definitely return to these amazing bike trails!

Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail

I can't improve upon the above Trail Description or the previous Trail Reviews. In simplest terms, the trails of Alabama's Gulf State Park are absolutely awesome! My wife and I traveled from California in March of 2022 to experience the trails and we had the time of our lives!

Be sure to visit the Gulf State Park website for a map or have the Rails-To-Trails TraiLink app handy since there are twenty-seven trails and/or connectors within the park. We wanted to ride as much of the expansive system of trails as possible, and it was like putting a challenging puzzle together to organize our routes.

Every trail has something that makes it interesting or fun. Our favorite trail was Gulf Oak Ridge for its beautiful views from the overlook platform, and for riding through the forest of trees which envelope the trail.

Kudos to Alabama State Parks for this park and its system of trails. I wish I could ride these popular trails every day like michaelraydunaway!

our Trail may be done?

We ride this trail about 300 times a year. It’s a great trail but someone is asking the State to ban E-bikes. We are Seniors with various ailments so it’s nice to have this place to ride. Not sure what Alabama is thinking when it comes to e-bikes but many are riding them. We understand some of the young people that come here & ride out of control have caused this to be considered but don’t take it out on the Seniors not to mention thousands of Snowbirds that vacation here.

One of the best trails we have ever ridden

This trail system is second to none. Very well maintained, plenty of entry points with parking, they even have a free bike rental program. Nature at it’s best, wildlife, beautiful lakes and just so much to see and so many places to stop and enjoy the moment. Besides a few side trails, which are not made for road bikes, the entire trail system is paved. There are several bridges, one of which is 1.1 miles long. Take your time because you will see alligators, water fowl, otters etc. It’s a marvelous trail system you don’t want to miss.


No Reviews No Way

We ride this trail everyday & so does many others if they are not walking or jogging. The trail has many entry points where you can park. On the perimeter there are many places to eat & easy to get to the beach as well. Also access to Gulf State Park or the Sportsplex in Orange Beach not to mention there are bike lanes along the coast for miles even going into Florida.

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