Hikes,  Kid Friendly Hikes

Old Railroad Bed Trail

Old Railroad Bed Trail is a 2.9-mile moderate point-to-point trail on Monte Sano with a lot of history. This trail is home to one of the country’s oldest and shortest-used rail corridors, the Monte Sano Railway. In the late 1800s, a hotel was built atop the 1,600-foot Monte Sano. In order to transport passengers to the hotel location at the top, the railroad was built by 500 construction workers in four months. The line opened August 1888 and guests paid 25 cents each way to get to Hotel Monte Sano. However, by October, a derailment caused by brake failure frightened passengers away. As a result, only freight cars used the line until the trains completely stopped running in 1896.

Old Railroad Bed Trail is now owned by the Land Trust of North Alabama. The tracks have long been removed, but signs of the railway still exist. The well-marked trail takes you around original stone bridge supports, called trestles, excavated slopes and showcases some amazing water features. One of the coolest things about the trail is that the Land Trust offers a free audio trail tour through the TravelStorys app. The audio tour is GPS-guided and keeps pace with the trail, providing facts and history along the way. It is also available for remote access.

Old Railroad Bed Trail starts from two different locations: Toll Gate Trail, which starts directly on the Old Railroad Bed and eventually intersects with the Bluff Line Trail, ending at The North Alabama Land Trust Bankhead Trail. Hikers can also choose to start at The North Alabama Land Trust Bankhead Parkway, which offers ample parking. Due to multiple intersecting hikes, hikers have the ability to shorten the hike if needed, especially for smaller children.

The trail we take follows the audio trail tour and forms about a two-mile loop. From the trailhead, take the Bluff Line Trail to the Old Railroad Bed Trail. Turn right onto the Old Railroad Bed Trail, which you’ll follow for the majority of the tour. Right after crossing Fagan Creek, there will be a spot with numerous intersecting trails. Take a right onto Alms House Trail and follow it until returning to the top of the Bankhead Trailhead parking lot.

The difficulty level of this trail is considered moderate. There isn’t any significant elevation but certain sections of the trail can be a bit rocky. However, it is remarkably well-marked and easy to navigate. My two sons, ages 6 and 9, are able to complete the hike without any issues and we all thoroughly enjoy it.

Additional Information:

Address:  2442 Bankhead Pkwy NE, Huntsville, AL 35801

Parking: Parking is plentiful and well marked. Other trails are also accessible here.

Difficulty: Moderate , there are quite a bit of rocky areas on the trail and a slight climb towards the end.

Map: Trail map is accessible here.

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