Alabama Gulf Coast offers many ways to leave footprints

Take a hike!

The sentiment is intended in the most positive way possible, of course.

When people think of leaving footprints at the Alabama Gulf Coast, most surely consider their tracks across the sugary sands of beaches in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. A visit to the local tourism website shows there are many other ways to leave an “impression” on the area – a figurative one, that is.

Once on the site, click on the “Things to Do” tab and look for the “Nature & Trails” link. There, you will find locations offering all types of walking and hiking options, from a casual stroll to a serious hiking excursion.

Gulf State Park has miles of trails, each with its own unique features. Here is an overview from the park’s Web site:

Hugh S. Brannon Backcountry Trails are comprised of Catman Trail, which runs through Orange Beach; Gulf Park Oak Ridge Trail, which traverses the back of the golf course; and Rosemary Trail, which ends up on the beach road. There are nearly 8 miles of trails in this section.

Hurricane Ridge Trail connects into another trail and is about three-quarters of a mile long. It was crafted after Hurricane Frederic hit the Gulf Coast in 1979. The area still bears scars of the hurricane, but also offers animals, birds and plants to enjoy looking at while walking.

Middle Lake Trail edges a small canal. Alligators may be seen floating near the surface of the canal. Look but don’t feed the gators – it is against the law and not very safe.

The most accessible trail for those with mobility challenges or for adults bringing youngsters is Bear Creek Trail. It was a road to Orange Beach, so it is paved.

Alligator Marsh Trail also runs along a canal. Visitors can look for tall mash grass with saw-toothed edges called Saw Grass. The name is appropriate, because the edges are sharp and can cut.

Bobcat Branch Trail is home to many species of birds, including woodpeckers.

Tallow Trail, only about a quarter of a mile, connects Bobcat Branch Trail to the main campground road.

Holly Trail and Armadillo Trail offer opportunities to see creatures and plants of all sorts.

Middle Lake Overlook Trail takes advantage of one of three freshwater lakes in the park. This lake fed by an underground spring, features water that is rust-colored because of the types of plants that are decaying in it.

The most important thing to remember while enjoying the park is to respect nature and any creatures you encounter. honda financial services customer service

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