The Red Trail in Oak Mountain State Park is primarily designed for mountain bikers and attracts them from all over the country. It's the site of many cycling races and competitions and has been recognized by the International Mountain Biking Association as an "Epic Ride"—one of only about fifty international trails to receive that honor.
The trail is also open to hikers. For those brave souls who don't mind bikers buzzing past, the Red Trail will reward you with splendid scenery and challenging and varied terrain. The route includes a loop around a lake and treats you to views of the light playing off of its sparkling waters. Boulders frame sections of the trail that pass through dense woods. As you cross one of many wooden bridges over rocky creeks, you may spot butterflies landing nearby. Shed pine needles turn hillsides red. Wildflowers carpet open meadows and high points yield vistas of the Appalachian foothills.
The trailhead lies within Oak Mountain State Park, which requires a $5 admission fee. The full 22-mile loop trail will take longer than a day's hike to complete. There are backcountry campsites along the trail if you want to split your hike into two days. If you camp overnight at one of these sites, you will need to pay an additional $6 fee. If you only want to walk part of the Red Trail before heading back, you can explore some of the other trails that branch off of the North Trailhead, including the Blue Trail and the Cat Dog Snake Trail.
If you live nearby, it's definitely worth getting a trail map and returning more than once to explore the park's entire network of trails. In the fall, it's a beautiful place to take in the changing colors, and at any time of year you can enjoy the sights and sounds of waterfalls and passing wildlife. No matter how much time you spend or how much of the trail you explore, you will remember the inspiring sights you discover here with your favorite hiking companion.