There’s lots of good things about Gulf State Park. Like the ocean, the spacious camping sites, and the park’s many amenities. But, hands down, the best thing is . . . The Trails. This park offers 28 miles of trails, and many of them are paved, mostly flat and meander through the various ecosystems with scenic views at every twist and turn.
The trails sport many features, like clever water fountains with ports for humans, dogs, and water bottles. And there are numerous benches, swings, overlooks, a really cool playground, a rustic camping site, wildlife (like alligators), and even a screened in pavilion with a butterfly garden. To the left of the screened-in pavilion is a large boulder with rock climbing apparatuses on it. The trails and its features are extensive. Trail maps are displayed at strategic places – usually at crossroads where a decision has to be made about which way to go.
Over the course of our two weeks here, Dan and I rode more than 50 miles. We also rode some smaller amounts that I did not bother to GPS. There are also some “primitive” trails, but we did not go on these.
There is only one trail we would not recommend. That is the Bear Creek Trail which is made out of recycled asphalt. This is a fairly short connecting trail (0.4 mile) that we only went on once. After that, we made sure to take alternate routes. The recycled asphalt was very rough and bumpy, and there is even a part which is just large gravel. I was afraid Dan and I would fall when our bikes met that surface. I’m big for recycling, but this trail needs to be rethunk.
Most people bring their own bikes. Some people even have electric bikes. The speed limit on the trail is 10 mph, and most people respect that rule. There are also signs which state, “No Race Training.” Darn! We were hoping to get our race training in. Ha Ha.
Now, if you didn’t happen to bring a bike, no worries! Bikes are available to rent:
But! There is also a free bike share program within the park.
Bicycles can only be borrowed for three hours and must be returned to a Bicycle Share Station. We saw lots of people taking advantage of the free bicycle sharing program. Now if I didn’t have my bike, which program do you think I would choose? The three hour time limit is not an issue for me. And I’d be happy to return the bike to the station.
However, we didn’t just ride bikes on the trails. We took several long walks, and we saw many others doing so, too. One morning, we walked to The Pier from our campsite and took the free tram back. Another morning, we walked the trails to the Beach Pavilion and again took the free tram back. Another morning, we walked a giant loop, mostly on the Campground Trail road, much of which is elevated with picturesque views and refreshing air from the many tall short-leaf pines which surround the area. What a wonderful, wonderful place. How did we get to be so lucky?