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The Eastern Shore Trail runs along the east side of Mobile Bay from Spanish Fort to Weeks Bay, passing through the communities of Daphne, Montrose, Fairhope, Battles Wharf and Point Clear along the way. In 2010, the paved path, which still has a couple of gaps targeted for elimination in the near future, was designated a National Recreation Trail.
The trail is mostly concrete or asphalt, but because of the wide variation in grade, you will encounter elevated boardwalks and high-rise bridges, both wood and metal. You can stop to swim, fish, picnic or enjoy nature trails at several points along the trail's route. At the Gator Alley boardwalk (an underpass for Interstate 10), keen observers might spot alligators, turtles and seabirds.
In the north, trail users can opt to continue west via an on-road route to the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile instead of continuing east to Spanish Fort. The route is not for the faint of heart: the only link is via highway shoulder on several bridges spanning Mobile Bay.
However, the trip is worth it, as the former World War II battleship for which the park is named is now open as a museum (admission fee required). Several aircraft and a submarine that saw significant action in World War II’s Pacific Theater are stationed here as well.
Parking is available at numerous places along the 36-mile route.
USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park: Located at 2703 Battleship Parkway in Mobile. From Mobile, take US 90/98 east (tunnel under the water) toward Mobile Bay and look for signs to the park. The road is also known as State Route 42/Old Spanish Trail/Battleship Parkway. You can also take I-10 through an underwater tunnel and exit onto Old Spanish Trail/US 98/SR 42/Battleship Parkway.
Mullet Point: From the city of Fairhope, head south on US 98 Alt. E/Mobile Ave. (Mobile Bay on your right) to Magnolia Ave./County Route 1 (where US 98 Alt. breaks away to the east) to Mullet Point Park (located at 13201 CR 1 in Barnwell).
Probably one of the best locations to start is in Fairhope where you can go both north and south about the same distance.
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.
The pavement is broken, heaved and in serious need of repacking. Our trails in Illinois are in better shape. On the trail today was sand, soil, broken glass, pine needles, grasses, horse manure, (I saw six horses on the paved trail yesterday, trash cans and parked vehicles. I’ve complained to police to no avail since it isn’t a priority. One truck pulled onto the trail in my path climbing an incline to retrieve his mail. There are no markings at intersections or to alert motorists to keep off of the trail. It would appear that the trail was built to say they have a trail but, they choose to not maintain it or do anything about violators. It’s a real shame and embarrassment.
I was raised in Alabama, what a shame that the State, County or City does nothing to improve this trail. Lots of people would love to ride or walk this but it appears the State nor the Local Government could care less about it.
I bike from weeks Bay on 98 to about 15 miles heading from there along route 1 into the city and I always enjoy it. There are some rough patches and one place where you have to cross the street to get to the other side to continue on the trail but overall it's worth it. The roads around the neighborhood are usually not that bad and you can easily switch to randomly using the roads to go through neighborhoods. There are a few nice slopes and I really enjoy the landscaping and scenery there. Yes sometimes a vehicle is half parked on it but it's easy to go around. I drive from Foley , about 10 miles away, a few times a week to bike it. It's a community pedestrian path and of course kids are out on it so it's not for racing on. But you can definitely go fast enough to get in a great workout if you want.
Sorry it was poorly maintained, and the cement was cracked and upheaved or sunk in several areas, not like Michigan! We also had to dodge constructions trucks etc.. parked on the trail! The was garbage strewn in and near the trail.. ? Spring pick up never picked up. But we did make it all the way from the weeks bay Nature center, and the town of Fairhope is beautiful!
I rode this trail for the first time four years ago and I wrote a review. I see that nothing has changed to make it better. It's a great trai though it lacks maintenance and monitoring. Motor vehicles park on it, garage cans are placed on it and there is debris on it. One car was parked across it where they were demolishing a building. There was a large parking lot that could have been used. As I went around the car parked across the trail a truck headed toward me with the driver looking over his shoulder! This forces cyclists to violate Alabama law and ride in the street whee a trail is provided. It's sad that nobody cares to take care of the Eastern Shore Trail.
Unless you can make 150 degree turns at 15mph (without warning and at the bottom of hills)...I recommend you stay away from this one on speed skates. Also...not a trail and several intersections.
Our favorite time to ride this trail is 2 hours before sunset. Peaceful and beautiful
I realize everyone wants something different in a trail, but this one is perfect for me. It is a sidewalk, both through rural areas and through towns, and the sidewalk does not extend onto the Causeway (North Section). What is perfect, though, it the view of the Bay and the opportunity to stroll or bike through picturesque towns such as Daphne and Fairhope.
I especially enjoy walking it at sunset on Scenic 98 south of Fairhope.
This is the experience that I have with the Eastern shore Trail.
I park at either Battleship Park, across the street at the free boat launch parking, or further up the road at the Three Rivers Delta Center which is free also.
From all of these locations, I ride on Highway 90 east to Spanish Fort in Baldwin County. I like this ride for the beauty as well as terrain. Riding the Causeway provides scenery of the Mobile Bay till you arrive at Spanish Fort. This hills begin in Daphne and continue all along the trail to Fairhope where the road flattens on the ride to Mullet Point.
When arriving on the eastern shore, I suggest riding the Eastern Shore Trail into Daphne and leave the scenic 98 and ride the shoulder on Highway 98 starting where the trail crosses over Hwy 98 at the Publix supermarket. I do this because the shoulder is wide and I find it a better road surface then the Eastern Shore Trail through Daphne and Montrose.
I ride Hwy 98 to Fairhope where I turn and ride to center city, down the hill toward the pier and just before the bottom, turn left back onto the Eastern Shore Trail - scenic Hwy 98 towards Point Clear. I then ride to the Grand hotel in Point Clear where I turn around and retrace my route back to the car.
There is one thing I want to say about this route. I have read reviews about riding the causeway on the bridge close to Battle ship park that do not recommend this route because there is no shoulder to ride on the west bound side of the bridge. This is true but I have another option. When I do this ride and start from Battleship Park area, the eastbound lane has a wide shoulder to use but the westbound lane does not. In addition, the west bound side has trash, reflectors, and expansion joints to ride. If this return route is used, riding the white line or in the automobile travel lane is the only option. However, there is another option. Cross over highway 90 just before entering onto the bridge when riding west and use the east bound shoulder for the bridge crossing. This lane is wide enough to ride on the outside and not to cause problems for cars traveling towards you plus, there is enough opportunity at the bottom of the bridge to cross back over if needed or continue on to Battleship Park.
If you are planning on biking this "trail", just stick to riding in the road way. The "trail" is just the adjacent sidewalk along US Scenic 98 the entire way (except it stops at US 90), and is comprised of nothing more than narrow, poorly maintained city sidewalks...which are full of dog walkers, families, little children, elderly, and everything you don't want bikers encountering. Significant portions of the sidewalk are torn and ripped concrete slabs and broken pavement. There are also several sections where a sidewalk does not yet exist. Unfortunately there is not one portion of the entire trail where you are no more than 10 feet from the roadway! Are there scenic views? Yes, but you are constantly reminded that you're not in a rural area by the hoards of cars rushing past. I'd rather see any money on this project go into building proper bicycle lanes along Scenic US 98. That will get the cyclists off the sidewalk, making it safer for pedestrians, safer for cyclists who currently do ride on the road, and safer for drivers who have to pass the cyclists; it's safer for everyone.
I started my ride at Battleship Highway. This "trail" is a bike route right on Route 90/98. Traffic is going 60 mph. Got to d'olive creek and the bridge is closed AFTER you ride a mile straight down to get to it. Most of the trail is a sidewalk. It was better to ride in the streets of town then dodge all the joggers and dog walkers using the same sidewalk as bikers. Also, most of the sidewalk had large cracks and missing cement. It is not marked well in some areas. You come to a shopping center and the sidewalk just stops. No sign or sidewalk to follow. It was VERY disappointing.
My family and I will be moving to the Daphne area in the next several months and I have some significant trepidation about riding this trail. I have done a fair amount of driving this route and it looks like there are several miles of decent trail, then really horrible sidewalk for lack of a better term. The sad part is there is no other trails. I am coming from a community which has a converted rail line (tammany trace in mandevill la) and this would be a huge downgrade on what I ride now. Will there be improvements forthcoming? I hate to say that my options are becoming find another decent route, start riding the roads (which freaks my wife, and kind of me out), or hang up the bike. I prefer to go 20 to 30 miles and there is nothing around.
My husband and I had planned to ride this trail because it is much closer to our home however, after reading the reviews we will not put our lives nor our grandson's life in danger. We pull a bike cart with our grandson and it is wide, can't take a chance on this trail. The two best trails on the Gulf Coast is in Hattiesburg MS and Sildell LA - these are "real" bike trails - no CARS!!!!! The Hattiesburg trail is 54 miles long and the Sildell trail is about 36 miles. The Hattiesburg is lots of hills and you get a good ride. The Sildell trail is flat all the way. Be aware that the Sildell ride has a bridge that opens and closes. Opens at daylight and closes just before dark....if you aren't back you will have to ride about 5 miles up to a major roadway to cross over the river then back down to the bike trail. So sorry this trail in Mobile isn't family friendly - we were pretty excited to find something closer to home - but can't take a chance!!!! Happy riding!!!!!
Just want to let trail users know that we are taking all feedback regarding our trail seriously! We strive to ensure a safe and enjoyable trail experience for everyone. We are working full force to address the concerns listed below by updating our website to make more information available, and we hope to instal new signs along the trail to minimize confusion while riding.
We are truly proud of the Eastern Shore Trail, and we hope visitors can use our trail as way to experience the our beautiful community. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me directly and I will be happy to help.
Baldwin County Trailblazers
I started at the North end by Battleship Park and rode about half the trail. The park charges $2 for parking, but there is free parking right across the road in several lots by the boat ramps & bait shops. The first 6.5 miles are not a trail, those miles are on the side of a highway. One bridge has no shoulder and you are forced to ride in a lane with 55 mph traffic over a arching bridge with limited sight distance. Not cool. At Spanish Fort (6.8 miles from start), things get safer, but slower. The trail takes you under I-10 which is much safer than the HWY 90/98 overpass (a cloverleaf with the Interstate). After a short jaunt through a park, it takes you under HWY 98 over to a two lane road with a wide sidewalk. After grinding up a 3% grade, you must cross HWY 98 again at a light. (8.7 miles) The trail is essentially a wide sidewalk along the side of the road that constantly switches back and forth across the road. I am loath to ride on a sidewalk against the flow of traffic for safety reasons. Motorists turning right do not look to their right as they are looking over their left shoulder for cars. As a result, they cross the trail without looking, usually blowing through the stop sign. There is no shoulder, so riding in the road entails sharing a narrow (~10 foot) lane with traffic. Cars are forced to drive behind you until they can see well enough to pass. Most of the road is 35 mph with occasional 45 mph sections. About mile 18, you arrive in Fairhope. The downtown area has a very narrow bicycle lane that has you skim parked cars right next to traffic. The road approaching and departing downtown Fairhope is a divided parkway with a lane so narrow, traffic cannot pass a bicyclist riding in traffic. I then rode down to the water and turned around to go back to my car. During the ride up and back, I rode on the trail and in traffic depending on conditions. Alabama state law says that bikes have a right to ride in the road even if there is a trail running parallel. The law also says that bikes must obey all traffic laws. Watch out for the "Contributory Negligence" law. Basically, if a bicyclist breaks ANY rule or law and gets into a collision, then they have contributed to the accident with the expected gleeful hand clapping by lawyers. This includes not having the dorky stock red reflector on the back of your bike as required by law. Overall, the scenery is gorgeous and the hills provide a good challenge. Some of the pavement is a bit rough, so make sure you have some beefy tires that can take bumps. There's nothing too rough, mostly wide cracks.
The website is www.thetrailblazers but you'll not find a useful map there. It's really a patchwork of sidewalks and shoulder riding. We managed to get lost within five miles of starting at Meaher State Park. ($2.00 fee) The signage is very poor and local people don't seem to know much about the trail.
I tooktothe southend of the trail this week and it was much better. Leaving from the south terminus I headed north along the roadway on the narrow shoulder for several miles (narrow meaning 16-18"). I was not bad except for the cars following behind a truck. They were unable to see me until the truck cleared and then it was a fright to steer off the shoulder into the middle ofthe road. The scenery was beautiful and the rolling hills in Fairhope were picturesque but not overwhelming. T=Fairhope itself is a quaint little burg with speciality shops and eateries. Very nice. The bulk of the trail is paved off-road but the narrow shoulders at many places makes it "interesting".
It was a toss-up. Hattiesburg MS or Mobile AL? I chose Mobile and wasted a day. I took the listed coordinates from the trail description and headed to Battleship Memorial. The park personnel know nothing about a bike trail - nothing new. The co-ords put me at the entrance to the park - right in the middle of route 90. I rode around for an hour or so looking for anything resembling a trail - nothing. Narrow shoulders on 90 and private roadways that look like bike trails. "Well, you must have gotten it wrong." Check the website upon my return home I find I didn't have it wrong. I followed the direction spot-on. I'll be checking into this one - but in the meantime beware!
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