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Much of the Decatur Biking and Running/Walking Trail is asphalt, and some is on-street, but at Point Mallard Park it turns into a shady, well-maintained gravel trail over smooth terrain.
The pathway connects to Wilson-Morgan Park, passes through Point Mallard Park, and extends down to Rhodes Ferry Park, winding down a seven-mile stretch by the picturesque Tennessee River. Many areas cross the same territory as the sanctioned Cherokee Trail of Tears, as you make your way past the railroad tracks.
Mallard Point has a water park, golf course, batting cages, camping, a year-round ice rink and much more.
The trail is open at all times and there are at least three main access points with parking. Across the Tennessee River form the trail, you will find the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, 35,000 acres that supports thousands of wintering waterfowl as well as a year-round population of many bird, mammal, fish, amphibian and reptile species.
In Decatur, along the Tennessee River, you will find three parking areas: the end point at Mallard Point Park, near the ice complex (8th Street); the other end point at Rhodes Ferry Park (Line St. NE & Oak St. NE); and at the intersection of 8th St. SE and Point Mallard Rd. SE.
Great trail for easy biking. Decatur just added several miles and plan to add additional trails soon. Particularly good for family rides if you start at Point Mallard. Much of those trails are not shared with vehicles. Beginning near Market Street the paths are on city streets, but still well marked. The majority, if not all, of the trails are on asphalt. There is plenty of parking at all the trailheads.
I rode this trail recently for the first time in a few years and some problems still exist while some have improved. The Point Mallard end of the trail is still very nice and easy to follow. They have made improvements to most of the sections of the trail that previously had been very close to the water's edge, moving them several feet back.
The city of Decatur has a master plan to extend this trail throughout the city but work has been done in fits and starts. If you decide to take the northern end of the trail or the new part downtown by the railroad tracks, be sure to bring a map because markings for the trail are scarce.
In Huntsville for business. Came here for evening run. Started by the pool area ran along the water edged trail. Lots of people. Very nice!!
We only walked a two mile stretch but enjoyed the whole path.
It was the best of trails; it was the worst of trails. Well, that may be overstating it a little but the Decatur Trail (now officially named the Dr. Bill Sims Hike-Bike Way) really could be considered two trails. The best part of the trail is the southern end at Point Mallard which is much better in almost every way than the northern end which terminates at Rhodes Ferry Park on the River.
Point Mallard, a large city park with a variety of recreational activities, has plenty of parking. The main access point of the trail is between the Wave Pool and the old Ice Skating Rink (looks like a very large open pavilion). The trail actually continues in both directions from here. To the right, the trail goes around the Wave Pool, past the Water Slides, around the park and into the surrounding neighborhood. This part, which is not currently on the map, contains about a mile of trail. The main part of the trail goes to the left. This part of the trail is hard packed gravel which follows the Flint Creek to the point where it empties into the Tennessee River. There is a little bit of up and down, enough to make it fun but not difficult to navigate. One word of caution, for the most part, the trail is plenty wide enough but there are a few narrow spots and there are some spots where the trail comes within a foot or so of the water. If you are riding or walking with small children, just be sure to keep an eye on them.
Not quite 3 miles from the parking area, the trail changes for the worse. The gravel part of the trail ends, at a paved road (8th street) which is, except for very rare occasions, closed to vehicular traffic. If you turn left at this point, the road leads around the golf course and back to Pt. Mallard and the parking lot. Turning right will take you on to the rest of the trail.
Going down this paved road for a short distance will take you to a set of gates across the road. Go around the gates and there is a small parking area. From here the trail is paved and parallels 8th Street/Pt. Mallard Parkway. To the left, the trail goes a few hundred yards into the Pt. Mallard Campground. The main trail goes off to the right. For the next couple of miles the trail is not too bad with a row of very tall trees on one side and the road and very nice houses on the other. Just past the trees, the trail veers off to the right, goes past a power sub-station and ends up on Market Street. Here is where the trail gets confusing. A separate paved trail parallels Market Street and some railroad tracks for a couple hundred yards. The Traillink map shows this trail following Market Street all the way to Rhodes Ferry Park. While this is a short-cut and has many advantages, it is not the official route of the trail. Officially, when the trail intersects Grant Street, it follows bike lanes (on each side of the road), past Church Street to 16th Ave. At this point, the trail again is separate from the road but cuts back over and parallels Church Street. At the intersection of Somerville Road, you to cross both Church and Somerville where the trail again parallels Church until you get to 10th Ave. where the trail cuts a block north back over to Market Street. Once back on Market Street, the trail heads west under the Tennessee River Bridge, behind the Holiday Inn and on to Rhodes Ferry Park.
If you decide to take the short-cut down Market Street, realize that this is an industrial section of town. There are a couple of plants here including the Meow-Mix cat food plant. Although traffic is very light, what traffic there is is largely big, heavy trucks. There are also about a half-dozen railroad tracks (spurs into the plants) which angle across the road. Just remember to cross these tracks at a perpendicular angle on a bike.
Rhodes Ferry Park is a small city park with nice views of the Tennessee River and both the automobile and railroad bridges. Just west of Rhodes Ferry is a walkway over the railroad tracks heading north over the river. If you are starting the trail at Rhodes Ferry, there are currently no signs identifying where the trail is. You need to head out the park to the east toward the automobile bridge and behind the Holiday Inn. For a while, the trail is in the median of the road between the lamp posts but before going under the bridge, it is just north of the road.
All in all, I like this trail. The Point Mallard end has some beautiful views of the river and its abundant wildlife and is a fun trail to ride. The northern end near Rhodes Ferry is marked with bicycle stick figures painted on the road but, as of this writing, these markings are rather old and faded. There are very few signs anywhere on the trail. If you want to ride this trail, I recommend starting at Pt. Mallard and heading north as far as you like, then turning back and returning.
Started at Rhodes Ferry Park but couldn't figure out which way the trail went. I asked a UPS delivery guy in the area but he had no idea a trail even existed-not a good sign. He did point me in the direction of Point Mallard. About 100 yards from the Rhodes Ferry Park I found a bike path. It was a nightmare the first half mile out of town. 18-Wheel trucks everywhere and heavy industry. I had envisioned a scenic ride along the banks of the Tennessee River. Nope. About 6 major industrial operations hug the riverside while you piece your way through one of the most ugly parts of any town you could imagine. I wish somebody could have taken a picture of me in the middle of all that chaos. And from there till the end of the trail you smell what I can only imagine is the processing of dog-food. 10 miles-not even close. And you have to piece it together. There is a nice stretch in the Point Mallard Park area but 10 minutes of riding and its over. The area is adjacent to Wheeler Wildlife Refuge. Lots of birds and water. I wanted a moderate distance ride so I found myself riding through a residential section across from the golf course. The worst part of the ride-going was back through town. Iron-Eyes Cody would have had a fit.
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