|Tunnel Springs bike trail lies along old railroad bed.|
On Sunday, my young son and I loaded up our bikes and rode over to Tunnel Springs to check out that community’s relatively new bike trail.
For those of you unfamiliar with this bike trail, it’s a “Rails to Trails” asphalt bike trail that was constructed atop an old rail bed that runs north from Tunnel Springs, beneath State Highway 21, and almost all the way up to the abandoned train tunnel south of Beatrice. This trail is about 1.7 miles long and opened about a year ago to bikers, walkers and joggers.
The parking area at the trailhead is just off State Highway 21, near the intersection of Nettles Road. There you’ll find parking spaces for about a dozen vehicles, but on Sunday we had the place all to ourselves, except for a scattering of squirrels and songbirds. To boot, the weather was nice, sunny and cool – just right for a short bike ride.
Not far from the trailhead, the path takes you beneath the State Highway 21 bridge and north between the high railroad cuts that heavily-loaded trains passed through for more than a century. Large trees border almost the entire path, providing cool shade to those enjoying the trail.
However, if you get tired, you’ll find several benches along the way where you can stop and catch your breath. Sponsored by local businesses, these rest stops also include bike stands for a couple of bikes.
At the end of the trail, you’ll encounter a wooden fence, marking the boundary where private property begins, prompting trail users to turn around and head back to the trailhead. However, if you’re standing there at the fence, you can see the opening to the old abandoned train tunnel, which is about 100 yards away. If you go there yourself, remember that the tunnel is on private property and is off limits to those who don’t have permission to explore it.
The trail, which was paid for with grant funds, is generally flat and is an easy ride for those who are accustomed to riding a bike. I’d say the path is eight to 10 feet wide, easily wide enough to accommodate two side-by-side riders at once. Altogether, the trail is a little over three miles long, and if you don’t have a bike, it’ll make for a nice walk or jog.
If you’re interested in seeing this trail for yourself, be aware that it’s open seven days a week, but it’s not open at night. It opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset. Camping, fires, hunting, fishing and shooting guns or fireworks are prohibited.
In the end, I couldn’t help but wonder how such a trail would be received in Evergreen or Conecuh County. I know that we’ve got more than a few bike riders, walkers and joggers around, and I’m sure they would enjoy a nice, safe place to exercise. I don’t know of any abandoned, available railbeds in Conecuh County, but there may other options available.