OFF ROAD: Some writers who ride go so far as to compare Oak Mountain State Park with Whistler and Moab. We admit that may be a stretch, but it has become a riding destination that s growing in reputation among serious mountain bikers. The park is about 20 miles south of Birmingham and covers more than 10,000 acres. alapark.com/oakmountain/ mountainbiketrails, 205-620-2520

Red Mountain Park recently opened more than 10 miles of trails in what is one of the largest urban parks in America. With seven visitor destinations, this is also one of the most ambitious and historically important new park projects in the country. Take a break from biking and glide through the treetops on the Red Ore Zip Tour Zip Line. redmountainpark.org, 205-202-6043

At Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, bikers fi nd another historical treasure in their surroundings. The ironworks here gave birth to the iron and steel industry in Birmingham during its early days. Park trails, many of them following the original routes of ore miners and furnace workers, cut through some of the most scenic areas of the Tannehill reserve. tannehill.org, 205-477-5711 PAVED TRAILS: The Shades Creek Greenway Trail runs alongside Shades Creek in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood. The six-mile trail is primarily level and recommended for beginning bikers. Bike

riders share the trail with pedestrian traffi c. homewoodchamber.org/page/81557/ greenway-walking-trail 205-871-5631

Railroad Park is the award-winning, 19-acre downtown green space that invites beginning bikers, walkers, runners, dog owners and skateboarders to share the great outdoors. railroadpark.org, 205-521-9933

Though downtown Birmingham is surrounded by the foothills of the Appalachians, the streets are relatively level for leisurely biking. Bike riding is one of the best ways to learn about the city and to tour the historic neighborhoods. For more challenging biking, take a detour up Red Mountain and ride up to Vulcan Park and Museum, overlooking the city. For more trail and route suggestions, contact the Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers (BUMP) at bump.org, 800-960-9457.

Singletracks and Switchbacks

Some of the three most beautiful words that describe trails are open all season. Throughout Alabama, many trails can be ridden as easily in December as July. What many say is the best of all these trails is at Oak Mountain State Park . Get ready for 17 miles of sweet singletrack, sharp switchbacks and some killer technical sections. But the coolest thing about this trail is its culverts. You can catch some serious air on these concrete and fl agstone culverts . Be sure to fi nd the culvert called Number 3. A team of bike fr iendly engineers must have designed the culvert to perfectly hurl bikes through the Alabama sky.

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