Monte Sano Trails - Huntsville, AL- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Monte Sano Trails - Huntsville, AL

    My son and DIL just had a baby and my FIRST Grandchild so Im gonna be spending a LOT of time over near Huntsville (actually Meridianville) spoiling and loving on this little girl.

    I plan on taking my bike to ride at times and I saw that Monte Sano might be a very good trail to ride. However, looking at the trail map it's one very confusing trail to figure out! Short of one of you local guys meeting me out there to show me around where would a good beginning be and a route that would get me in approx 10-12 miles of riding?

    Thanks!

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  2. #2
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    Monte Sano is great. I have a "loop" that I like to do that is about 12 miles. There is very good signage on the trail, so you wont get lost.

    1. Park at the Land Trust parking lot off of Bankhead Parkway.
    2. From there bike up "Tollgate Trail" for about 50 yards, then look to you left for the spot to cross the road onto "Bankhead Trail".
    3. Climb "Bankhead Trail" (1.7 miles) to the Bankhead parking area (Optional starting point, but "Bankhead Trail" is my favorite, so I don't suggest skipping it.)
    4. From the Bankhead parking area, take the paved trail "Old Bankhead Parkway" (1.2 miles) up to the plateau. There is a great view at the top of this steady climb. All the climbing is now done.
    5. Now get on "North Plateau Loop" (1.8 miles) heading sort of back the way you came. This is a fun section that will take you across the entrance road into the park and eventually to another parking lot (Trailhead Parking) with a trail map.
    6. From the trail map parking area, take "South Plateau Loop" (3.3 miles) all the way around.
    7. There are many optional routes you can take to get back to the trail map. You can stay on South Plateau Loop, which will bring you back to the Trailhead Parking lot. I like to get on the Bucca Family Trail (2.5 miles) at some point. It is a faster trail with some fun switchback sections.
    8. After you have made it back to the Trailhead parking lot, you can finish the "North Plateau Loop", which will take you back to the top of the paved trail "Old Bankhead Parkway". Head back down the paved trail.
    9. If you are up for a tough technical downhill switchback, then look for "Sinks Trail" on you right as you are headed back down "Old Bankhead". I love this section, but it pushes the limits of my ability. It isn't very long and takes you to a fun alternate route back.
    10. If you decide to take "Sinks", then you are going to need to take a left onto "Mountain Mist Trail" at the bottom of the technical downhill. "Mountain Mist" is a fun ride that will take you back to the paved trail (Old Bankhead).
    11. At the end of the pave trail, you will again be at the Bankhead parking area. From here, take "Bankhead Trail" downhill back to the Land Trust Parking lot.
    12. This will be a 10-12 mile ride with 900-1000 feet of climbs.

  3. #3
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    Thank so much for that DunProperly! It looks like I will be over tomorrow and hope to ride this. Is this trail part of a SORBA or anything so that I can keep tabs on whether the trail is open or closed due to any inclement weather? Website?

    And one other thing. In ref. to #9 above about the techy downhill switchback route. I just recently began riding with clips and as bad as I hate to admit it I have discovered that techy areas like that are eating my lunch. lol. In a bad kinda way. Is there another possible alternate route to take other than this one?
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  4. #4
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    I was able to run into a fellow MTB rider in the parking lot at the Land Trust parking lot.

    But before he showed up I had went up Tollgate Trail solo looking for the cut across Bankhead hwy to jump on Bankhead Trail. Yep, I missed it and went about a 1/2 mile. After crashing onto a large boulder that caused a nice knee contusion I THEN remembered that I forgot to put my knee/shin pads on. So I jumped out onto Bankhead hwy and road it back own to the parking lot. That is when the other biker showed up and we started chit chatting. He was there to try out a new Demo bike and asked if I wanted to follow as he was basically going to ride the trail(s) laid out above.

    We then went BACK up Tollgate trail and I saw the cut across that I missed big time the first time I went up. Unless you are really looking for it I see how I missed it as it doesnt just jump out at you. Plus, I was trying my best to not kill myself with the million of small boulders in my clipless pedals!

    Bankhead trail began as a very nice trail. Clean and flowy in small spurts. And as it progressed it was amazing how rocky and techy it became in certain sections. I think after my first crash earlier I was still a bit shaken up as hitting a boulder and landing on your back between 2 boulders and not being able to get up had my confidence wobbly. lol. My knee was bloody and KILLING me and left hip was calling my name every pedal. And then I tried to get up over another slightly techy area on top of another huge boulder. Disaster. I was tired more than I normally should be as I think my adrenaline had settled down from earlier. As I tried to go up and over this huge rock lip I didnt make it and my bike stopped dead cold. I couldn't unclip in time and this time instead of landing ON the boulder I went OVER to about a 4ft drop to another boulder and small tree. All I saw was my bike coming over on top of me. The guy I was following kept going but I didnt much care at that point. I just laid there to assess the damage and make sure I wasnt injured. Miraculously nothing was broken or sprained. While crashing on top of me my bike did manage to snap off my rear brake handle completely. I did finish riding the little bit remaining of the trail but when I got to the other parking lot opted to call it a day. I had no rear brakes and at that point felt battered. lol.

    I'm going back to ride this trail. But this time I may take my Santa Cruz with my flat pedals to "learn" the trail first and see what all I will face. The dude I rode with did tell me that those switchbacks mentioned above WERE the real deal so checking them out would be in my best interest.

    What's so crazy is I had an awesome time and am chomping at the bit to go again.

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  5. #5
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    Oh crap, I am so sorry I missed your question about clips and an easier route! I would have definitely advised not riding clipless for the exact reason you found out about. I have come close to having a couple of bad falls, but so far so good. It is just a matter of time before I go over the handlebars though, haha! I am glad to hear you are OK though. So, did your riding partner not stop and check on you??

    So, the next time you go out, don't start at the Land Trust parking lot. Drive a little farther up the mountain and start at the Bankhead parking area and head up the paved trail for a good warmup climb. This takes you up onto the plateau and all the riding is much more mellow and less technical up there. The South Plateau Loop, Bucca Family Trail, Fire Tower Trail are all really fun. You can actually start up there if you would like too.

  6. #6
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    I'm going back to Huntsville this Friday after work and weather permitting will get up and ride mid-morning Saturday. I plan on trying this route again since I kinda know the layout. But this time, I will carry my Santa Cruz with flat pedals so that I can hopefully learn the trail a little better this time and gain some confidence. lol. Hindsight I probably should have carried it a couple weeks back but, live and learn right? I didn't know that the Toll Road trail that I was scurrying up (since I missed the Bankhead trail exit) was a Black Diamond trail. That explains my first crash! I see that somewhere up the Toll Road trail another trail splits off called the Dummy Trail (how fitting for me!) I was wondering how that trail was riding up to the top of the mountain, or back down? I want to park where I did last time so that I can ride down.

    Also, what can you tell me about the Red Arsenal trail? Would it be a close comparison as far as good trails, variety, etc compared to being somewhat close to the Hunstville area?
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  7. #7
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    You will enjoy it. Take Bankhead trail up from the Land Trust parking lot. As you found out, there are a couple of tricky spots, but they are not very long.

    I have not been to the Arsenal trails. You will need to get a visitors pass to get onto the Arsenal as it is not exactly open to the public. Just make sure you do some research about getting onto the Arsenal before you head out there.

  8. #8
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    So the Arsenal trails are ON the Red Arsenal property?

    Edit: It IS on the Army post. And the requirements to get on are not conducive for most people to get on it appears. Even those of us with an honorable discharge and a copy of our DD-214.

    I also read this part:Some people mountain bike on post, but it is officially not allowed due to the various hunting seasons that are allowed in the wooded areas of RSA.

    So I guess Ill be sticking to Monte Sano for the time being!
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