A Look at the Amazing Trails of the XTERRA Southeast Champs

XTERRA has a knack for finding hidden gem trail systems for its events. When they first announced the Southeast Championships in this place called Oak Mountain outside of Birmingham, Alabama…ALA-freaking-BAMA, I remember myself and most of the pros were a bit suspicious. But, we were wrong, very wrong. Since that time the Oak Mountain course has hosted ten XTERRA Championships, an ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship, and this year the USAT cross-triathlon National Championship.

Built by the Birmingham Urban Mountain Peddlers or BUMP, the trails are amazing. Tight single track winding through dense sections of Oak forest only to open up to some of the best flow single track you’ve ever ridden. The trails are at once fun yet challenging, technical yet flowy. It is no surprise they have been granted IMBA EPIC RIDE status.

We highly recommend making a trip for the XTERRA, the BUMP ‘n Grind mountain bike race, or a training camp.

Find more information from BUMP below. And check out the trails on the HERE.

The Double Oak Trail at Oak Mountain State Park is BUMP’s own built and maintained trail. On November 2, 2010, made possible with the support of Shelby County, IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) added Oak Mountain to their list of Epic Rides. This makes it one of 52 must ride trails in the world. The approximately 26 mile length, and growing, trail is mostly tight singletrack, with about five miles of the “loop” doubletrack, and about 1900 feet of climbing. Oak Mountain State Park itself is a beautiful 10,000-acre facility with many sites for picnicking and a great lake with a beach for swimming and relaxing. Many geocaches are in the park as well.

Mountain Bike Trails and Maps

You can download our most recent map here.

The Ride

About 29 miles, the trail (red blazes) is several loops made up of mostly singletrack but some fire/forest/paved roads. Ride either direction. The trails are varied and heavily ridden, and expect to see riders of all ages and abilities, as well as hikers, back-packers, kids, dogs, anywhere on the trail. Please note that bikes are only permitted off road on the red trail. Fines are available from any park ranger for being caught on any other trail with a bike (whether you are riding or not!).

The trail is loosely made up of the following continuously connected sections (traveling counter-clockwise from the South Trailhead):

Lake Trail – This is a 4-5 foot wide level trail suitable for all ages and abilities. It offers some of the best views of the lake and the park itself. Please be cautious of horse traffic at trail intersections.

Rattlesnake Ridge – Narrow in places and twisty througout, this leg churner is sure to keep you on you toes. Rocks for texture, obstacles for fun and some short fast downhils in this 2.6 mile thrill ride through the dense pine forest of the park.

Family Trail– This .95 mile serene glide through the oaks is a great way to enjoy some singletrack without having to concentrate too much on  the trail itself. There are some obstacles but nothing anyone can’t handle.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride: All singletrack running counterclockwise along the loop from the South Trailhead approximately .85 miles. Ends at the junction of the bike trail and the horse trail next to Peavine Road. No hills but some tight turns and a few narrow spots between trees. Very smooth and flowing.

Foreplay: Continuing counterclockwise along the loop from the horse trail to the bottom of Johnson’s Mountain, Foreplay is also all singletrack. Only 1/2 mile long, very smooth and flowing, and contains one sharp S-turn followed by a short bumpy downhill to the bottom of Johnson’s Mountain. Go straight across the gravel lot at the bottom to get to Johnson’s Mountain.

Johnson’s Mountain: ~1.9 miles of hilly woody singletrack. The first section crosses a creek on a bridge then follows the creek, then climbs to the spine of Johnson’s first ridge. Hundreds of manhours of trail work in 1997 by BUMP created a steady climb and quick descent along Johnson’s other two ridges.The  trail continues downhill through a banked turn and crosses a bridge before crossing Peavine Road.

Blood Rock

BUMP Trail: This is singletrack that climbs about 1.25 miles to the Red Road at the top of the ridge. Hilly but smooth at the bottom, and rocky, technical and steep at the top. A purpose-built log crossing, Blood Rock, and a set of tight, rocky switchbacks mark the upper part of the trail. Blood Rock is named after a red trail blaze painted onto a sharp rock next to the trail. Riding down is challenging but easy to master. Riding up is possible by only a few people – beware of the wet slippery rocks. Turn left onto the Red Road at the top of the BUMP trail.

Jekyll & Hyde: Get ready for some tight spots, big rocks, twisting berms and speed to boot. This 4.4 mile roller coaster down Double Oak Mountain has it all. Built in the fall of 2011, it starts out with tight rolling singletrack along the cliffs of the old CCC Quarry and transitions into a half mile descent down a trail littered with rocks and features a three foot rolling drop. More rocks and obstacles await you before you whip around the Big Rock into some of the fastest singletrack in the park. The last 3 miles are a series of white knuckling berms, dips and banked turns mixed in with some short climbs zipping you through some beautiful pine and hardwood groves.  Please be aware of blind turns and use caution accordingly. The trail ends back at the road across from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Go back to the trailhead or head back up the mountain.

Centipede: Opened in February of 2015, this mile long connector runs from the big rock in Jekyll & Hyde (where the trail turns from technical to flow) to Quarry trail. The big work on this trail is done, however the roots need to be trimmed at a future trail day.

The West Ridge:  Opened in November of 2010, this beautiful 1.6 mile ride along the ridge of Double Oak Mountain is sure to fun and challenging. Very different from other areas of the park where you will see tight singletrack mixed in with plenty of rocks, great views and tree canopies. There are optional features on the side for those inclined for some rockhopping or riding of a 6 foot tall boulder.

Thunder Opened in February of 2015, this two part trail is made up of a bi-directional portion that runs from the intersection of Bolder and West Ridge trails down to the top of the Lightning trail and a unidirectional downhill portion that begins inside Bolder Ridge and then combines with the bi-directional trail.

Boulder Ridge: Expert riders ONLY! Really test your riding skillls like no other place in the Birmingham area. Bring your big boy/girl pants as this1.3 miles of big rocks, tight chokes, obstacles and drops of up to 6 feet will put your bike handling skills through the toughest of challenges. Please use your best judgement when riding here. It is a completely optional route but one well worth exploring. Look for the split rail fencing at each end.

Red Road:This is a fire road leading ~5 miles counterclockwise from the top of B.U.M.P. to the North Trailhead parking area. The last 2.5 miles are a heart pounding downhill, with 8 creek crossings made smooth by mortared flagstones placed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Great for catching big-air, but watch out for the rocky landings. Keep control of your bike, as the Red Road is also used by hikers, and bikers riding up-hill. The Red Road ends at the North Trailhead parking lot on the main park road. To continue on the bike trail, turn left ~100 yards before the gate at the end of the Red Road and follow the red trail markers across the bridge. **Do not turn left too early – this will take you down the yellow trail to Maggie’s Glen: an area off-limits for bikes.

Cat Dog Snake: Woody, smooth singletrack running roughly parallel to the main park road. One moderate climb at the end places you at the park road leading to the cabins. Cross the cabin road (paved) to continue on the bike trail.

The Chimneys: After climbing to the top of the ridge from the cabin road and descending to the foot of the hill, look for the remnants of a cabin (especially the brick chimney) on your right. This singletrack trail takes you through tight turns where roots grab your wheel and trees grab your handlebars. After crossing a wooden bridge, look for the BMX track on your left. About 100 yards later the trail crosses Tranquility Rd. Water is available at the BMX area from a spigot at the end of the pavement by the big field. Cross the road and continue on the trail.

Garrett’s Gulch: A technical rider’s playground Lots of white-tailed deer sightings in this area, especially in the early mornings. There is a 12 foot long, 16 inch wide bridge over a 4 foot creek deep creek here to test your nerves and some other obstacles. Further up is a small rock garden and ends with a short climb and then a descent to the Group Primitive Camping Road, with a large fallen tree crossing at the bottom. Test your riding skills on the 40 foot long fallen oak or ride around it.

Lightning: Introduces gravity oriented riding to the red trail experience.  Built in winter 2012 by Progressive Trail Designs in collaboration with BUMP volunteers, it offers ~4500′ of unique and challenging features.  This trail is not a cross country trail, but it is an optional, purpose built, one-way “downhill flow trail”; however, there are sections that still require pedaling. Access the lightning trailhead after climbing the group camp road ~0.8 miles above the Garrett’s Gulch turn-off.  Read the caution signs, and ride the entry filter – a boardwalk to drop-in.  Listen to your conscience if it tells you to not proceed.  Ahead awaits tabletop jumps, bermed corners, step-up and step-down jumps, rollers, and an (optional) all-mountain style box drop requiring mandatory air.  Excessive speed will be a danger factor for the expert cross country rider, unfamiliar with downhill riding techniques.  Some tips for the first timers: lower your bike saddle to help prevent you from getting “bucked” off of your bike, visit the pump track and BMX track to practice new bike handling skills, and attend a skills clinic.  The lightning trail can be ridden at slow pace without “getting air”, as everything is rollable.  Only you are in control your bike and thus the outcome of any trail ride. This trail is not a mandatory extension of the red trail “loop”.

Group Primitive Camping Road: ~1.6 miles, a dirt access road suitable for cars. The singletrack picks up again on the left almost at the end of the Camping Road, before the gate. NOTE: The parking area by the gate is an alternative start/finish place for a ride, but please DO NOT BLOCK THE GATE if choosing to park here.

Seven Bridges: The final section of trail, actually contains 8 bridges (we only discivered this a couple of years ago when we numbered them!). ~1.9 miles of moderate uphill woody singletrack, very similar to Mr. Toad’s, with more grade. It ends on Terrace Drive (the p

aved road on the way to the South Trailhead).Turn left onto Terrace Drive to get to the South Trailhead.

Terrace Drive to South Trailhead:Paved road, which passes the paddle boat house on the way to the South Trailhead parking area. ~ 0.85 miles, watch for crowds (in the summer and weekends especially) and cars with distracted drivers on this road.




Jimmy Archer

Founder and Editor at Jimmy has been a professional athlete for over 18 years as a runner, cyclist, mountain biker, cross country skier, and primarily, triathlete. Jimmy has a degree in exercise science from the University of Colorado and is a USA Triathlon and USA Cycling certified coach. Jimmy became a freelance writer in 2000 while competing and covering the ITU Winter Triathlon World Championship. Since that time Jimmy has been head editor at two magazines, been published in numerous publications within the endurance sport, recreation, and travel segments. Currently Jimmy is competing professionally in off-road multisport. In his spare time Jimmy passionately follows Formula 1, Moto GP, and is an avid cook.

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