Tannehill Historic Ironworks State Park has an atmosphere unlike any other. With the historic furnace, Iron and Steel museum, cotton gin, grist mill in addition to 45 other historic buildings and exhibits, it has a feel of a time when everything moved at a slower pace. Though this might not sound like a place that mountain bikers would be excited about, BUMP in cooperation with Tannehill, The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and Alabama Department of Community Affairs have worked hard to change that. In the Tannehill State Park which includes 200 feet of elevation change, interesting topography, rock outcroppings and creeks, lies a variety of sweet trails that range from technical and rocky or smooth and fast singletrack to quaint historic doubletrack working its way through the 1500 acres of pine and hardwood forest.
In November of 2009 BUMP began construction of the single track mountain bike trail, completing the first 1.4 mile Furnace Quarry Trail. BUMP applied for a federal Recreational Trail Program grant and a Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham grant to fund the additional mileage. Through volunteer labor as well as a contractor professional trail builder, 10.4 miles of single track has been added. With the previous doubletrack loop comprised of the Iron Road, Stagecoach Road, and Slave Quarters Trail, Tannehill now boasts over 16 miles of trail.
There are two trailhead kiosks. The North Trailhead is located near Farley Field at the base of the Montevallo Stagecoach Road. The South Trailhead is beside the Collins house just behind the Iron and Steel Museum. There are Trail Maps located in the kiosks and they can also be purchased at the country store.
The trail system is made up of several different loops. All trails are bidirectional. The “Ironworks Loop”, marked as the brown trail is made up of the historic doubletrack that include the Slave Quarters Trail, The Iron Haul Road, and the Montevallo Stagecoach Road. This trail is actually historic roads from the park’s iron legacy and is 3.94 miles. The brown trail is a great beginner level loop with two good climbs.
The “Furnace Quarry Trail,” marked orange does not make a complete loop but connects the South Trailhead to the old Furnaces near Folsom Bridge. This is an advanced level trail with a rocky textured tread that winds up and over the ridge where the stones were quarried for construction of the Furnace. The “Pig Iron Loop”, marked as the red loop is an intermediate level trail. It starts and ends near the Folsom Bridge and is 3.66 miles. Riding clockwise, the climb to the top of the ridge is 1.5 miles of winding textured singletrack. Once atop the ridge, you catch your breath along the north spur of Shades Mountain on a smooth wide trail. Once you reach the four way intersection, take a hard right and let loose on a fast smooth decent. Follow the red arrows all the way back down to Folsom Bridge. Riding counter clockwise, the trail starts off with a short steep climb to the top of the ridge. After crossing the top of the ridge, the downhill is not as steep, but has a longer steady winding decent back to Folsom Bridge with a fair share of fun switchbacks.
The “Cannon Ball Loop”, marked as the purple loop is intermediate level. It is a 1.57 mile fast smooth roller coaster that starts at the four way intersection on the top of the north spur of Shades Mountain. This loop connects to the green loop and gives you the option to climb back to the top of the ridge and ride it again.
The “Iron Runner Loop”, marked as the green loop is an intermediate level trail. It is a 3.77 mile loop with gently rolling terrain that seems to go on forever through a beautiful long leaf pine and hardwood forest. This loop in particular is equally as fun in either direction. It starts and ends at the four way intersection on the top of the north spur of Shades Mountain. It also connects to the Ironworks Loop.
The “Tri-County Marker Trail”, marked as the yellow trail is an intermediate level trail. This short .79 mile three way trail serves to connect the red, green and brown loops. The trail passes a monument that indicates the point where Tuscaloosa, Bibb and Jefferson Counties intersect. The “IMBA Trail”, marked as the pink trail is an intermediate level trail. Built during the demonstration portion of an International Mountain Bicycle Association Trail Care Crew Visit, this is a hand-built intermediate level trail that connects the Pig Iron Loop to the Ironworks Loop. It is currently .92 miles long with plans to extend it this winter with another IMBA Trail Care Crew Visit.
Directions to Start:
From Birmingham take I-459 to exit 1and follow signs to park. From Tuscaloosa take I-59 to exit 100 and follow signs to park.
There is an admission charge, $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for seniors and $1.00 for children. Annual pass is $40.00 for adults, $25 for seniors and $20.00 for children.