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Nature trails at Gulf Shores State park

Enjoy the beauty of nature and the gifts that it offers on one of the lovely nature trails in Gulf Shores State Park. Each of the trails in Gulf State Park is unique. All of the trails are level and easy to explore. It is advisable to wear comfortable shoes and clothing. During the hot summer months, hikes are best done in the morning when it's still relatively cool with a lower humidity. Most of the trails are less than a mile long.

Help us preserve nature for your children and future generations!

Seriously, they've got em here! WATCH OUT FOR ALLIGATORS - THEY ARE DANGEROUS ! It is reckless to approach alligators closely. Even though they may appear to be tame, alligators and other wildlife may suddenly turn and inflict serious injury.

HURRICANE RIDGE TRAIL - Hurricane Ridge Trail was constructed after Hurricane Frederic hit the Gulf Coast in 1979. The hurricane created this natural ridge by depositing sand, twigs, and vegetation from the force of the tidal surge. The 130 mph winds and the many tornadoes uprooted hundreds of trees. Many of these dead trees can still be seen today. Their gray, rotting trunks are one of the many reminders of the power contained in nature’s storms.

MIDDLE LAKE TRAIL - One of the major trails in Gulf State Park is Middle Lake Trail. It begins at the Nature Center and follows Middle Lake unit it intersects with Hurricane Ridge Trail. As you walk along the small canal, look for alligators floating along the surface. They are seen in the warm months of summer but are experienced at hiding in the grasses along the edge of the canal. Look for their eyes and nose on the surface of the water.

BEAR CREEK TRAIL - Bear Creek Trail is a unique trail because it used to be an old paved road heading to Orange Beach. Since it is paved, this trail is the most accessible to the handicapped and campers with small children in strollers. Also, along this trail are several signs that will help you identify many of the local trees and shrubs. As you walk along, look for the trees that have a rough gray bark on their trunks. Notice the shiny, dark green leaves. These small leaves remain on the trees year-round giving the trees the name Live Oak.

ALLIGATOR MARSH TRAIL - This is a unique trail that winds beside a small canal offering the right environment for small alligators, turtles, frogs, and other small animals. Watch for these animals on logs and along the banks of the canal. Be sure to look up as well. There are over 3—different types of birds that use the park as a resting area throughout the year. Tall marsh grasses grow along many areas of this trail. Some of this grass is easy to identify by its saw-toothed edges. If you have found some of this grass, you have discovered Saw Grass. Be careful! This grass can easily scratch you finger or leg if you rub against it too hard.

BOBCAT BRANCH TRAIL - Bobcat Branch Trail is a wonderful trail that connects Bear Creek Trail to the main campground road. It winds through ¾ of a mile of Live Oaks, Blackberry Brambles, and Holly. As you walk this trail, look for some of the dead or dying trees. These trees provide a wonderful supply of insects for birds such as woodpeckers. One of the largest and most impressive woodpeckers found in this area is the Pleated Woodpecker.

TALLOW TRAIL - Tallow Trail connects Bobcat Branch Trail to the main campground road at the camper check-in station in Gulf Shores State Park. This ¼ of a mile trail follows a small creek in the campground. If you walk quietly along this trail, you may see some birds such as the green heron fishing for dinner. The creek is also a home to many different types of frogs, turtles, and lizards. In the sandy areas of this trail, you might notice several different animal tracks. Many animals such as raccoons, bobcats, deer, and rabbits use this trail as an easy path into the campground.

HOLLY TRAIL - This trail wanders among Holly Trees, Live Oaks and Pines. Watch for small rabbits, lizards and turtles on this trail. On this trail, you may be lucky enough to see a water bird such as a rail or a non-venomous snake like a banded water snake.

ARMADILLO TRAIL - Along this one-mile trail you will see various types of ferns and moss. On the soft pliant earth beneath your feet, you will notice an amazing root system of the trees. You will also see palm-like leaves growing close to the ground along the sides of the trail. This plant is called Saw Palmetto. As the leaves fall to the ground, they provide a wonderful habitat for small animals such as snakes, frogs, and lizards.

MIDDLE LAKE OVERLOOK TRAIL - This trail is our newest trail. It was completed in March 2000 by a group of winter campers. Middle Lake Overlook Trail crosses over Armadillo Trail and ends at a small pavilion overlooking Middle Lake. Try to be quiet as you approach the lake and you may see turtles basking in the sun or a small alligator swimming nearby.

Middle Lake is one of three freshwater lakes in Gulf State Park. It is approximately 150 acres. The largest lake, Lake Shelby, is about 750 acres, and the smallest is Little Lake. These three lakes are fed by underground springs. The water flows out of the lakes into Little Lagoon and eventually ends up in the Gulf of Mexico. As you look out of Middle Lake, you will notice that the water has a very dark, reddish/brown color. This coloration is due to the release of tannins from the decomposition of plants.

PETS ARE NOT ALLOWED in any day use area of Gulf Shores State Park, including the beach and parking areas.

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