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Every kind of trail activity is represented in the listing of designated NRTs. Besides hiking and bicycling, the system includes water trails, motorized routes, snow tracks, greenways, and equestrian paths. The NRT program showcases the diversity of trails across America, from our cities and suburbs to the deserts, waterways, and high mountains.
The Eastern Shore Trail is a dedicated multipurpose trail for pedestrian and non-motorized vehicle use that generally follows the shores of Mobile Bay in South Alabama for 36 miles.
Kindergarten class at Gator Alley Boardwalk
Ever since 1995 a non-profit grass roots group calling themselves the Baldwin CountyTrailblazers has engaged in a relentless campaign to develop a continuous multi purpose trail that follows the eastern shore of Mobile Bay in Baldwin County, Alabama. Their initial challenge was to create the public appetite for sidewalks in small communities that had "gotten along just fine without them," then to connect them all.
They wrote the grants and helped raise matching funds. In unincorporated areas they worked with county commissioners and the local press ... again selling a product that had yet to exist. Well known national trail enthusiasts Dan Burden, Jeff Speck, and Ed McMahon appeared at Trailblazer conferences, providing guidance and encouragement.
Today a wide variety of trails constitute the Eastern Shore Trail ...many waterfront, some historic, wilderness and small town, both off road and paralleling roads. One dubbed "Gator Alley" tunnels under an interstate highway giving hikers a close look at alligators and giant turtles swimming below in d'Olive Creek or sunning themselves on its banks.
These trails are largely constructed of concrete or asphalt but because of the wide variation in grade a lot of elevated boardwalks and high-rise bridges, both wooden and metal, are also common.
VOlunteers Terry and Lloyd post Trailside signs
There are many attractions along the way from wilderness parks ... as in Daphne's Village Point Park ... to sophisticated waterfront resorts. But as one trailside resident says, "The trail is our front porch... where we connect with friends and neighbors while strolling the latest grandchild or walking to the library or getting our daily exercise.”
For non-residents such as our winter snowbird friends there's much to see and do... from the art galleries, street corner gardens and Single Tax Colony Museum in downtown Fairhope to the histroric but totally updated Grand Hotel Marriott Resort at Point Clear... with two Robert Trent Jones golf courses, tennis complex, swimming pools, marina, and European spa.
Perhaps the most fun of all is a stroll out on Fairhope's half mile municipal pier to check out the fishermen's luck, follow a sailing regatta in progress, or to marvel at windsurfers skimming by on a strong tail wind. Then there are the band concerts on the bluff overlooking the pier, the Rose Garden, duck ponds and swimming in the Bay off sandy beaches.
Out on the six mile causeway that crosses the Bay we have...
Montrose Steel Bridge
Meaher State Park with its salt marsh boardwalks .. one of ten Coastal Alabama Birding Trail sites on the Eastern Shore Trail, plus a fishing pier, boat launches, and year round bayfront camgrounds with travel trailer hook-ups, showers, and picnic pavilion.
Five Rivers Delta Center where visitors can check out the Apalachee Exhibit Hall, Tensaw Theater showing nature films, and hiking trails. For a fee they can rent a canoe or kayak or join a guided pontoon boat tour of the vast and wild lower Mobile Tensaw Delta.
Add waterfront seafood restaurants at every turn ...the best tables overlook the Bay... and sunsets to die for.
With all said and done, the Eastern Shore Trail satisfies the appetites for adventure of ecotourists, cyclists and joggers, fitness seekers, fishermen, sailers, and families on vacation. And it's all accessible to families and people of all ages, to strollers, and to people using wheelchairs.
The Battleship USS Alabama is one of the historic sights along the
Eastern Shore Trail (Photo by Bill Tunnell)
Directions to Trail:
From Mobile, Alabama, head East on I-10 to Battleship Parkway (also known as the Causeway) to Battleship USS Alabama Memorial Park. From Pensacola, head West on I-10 to Battleship Parkway and Battleship USS Alabama Memorial Park.
For more information:
The mission of the Baldwin County Trailblazers is to enhance the quality of life of all Baldwin Countians by taking a leading role in the plannig and development of a countywide network of hiking/biking trails connecting community to community, town to country, and people to people.