Sunday, November 20, 2011

More About Gulf State Park & the Hugh Branyon Backcountry Trail

Gulf State Park sits on about 6100 acres of land, has three lakes, waterfront sites and all kinds of things to do.....It is virtually across the highway from the Gulf of Mexico so you've got sugar sand beaches and the beautiful gulf within walking, biking, or driving distance in addition to all the wonderful park facilities.

We really enjoyed Gulf State Park and definitely plan to come back. Sparky wants to swim laps in the HUGE pool!...

The busiest, most packed time of year is January thru March..The Canadian snow birds leave April 1, so chances of coming in and getting a great spot are good in November, not as good in December, and then not again until after April 1. If you can make a reservation for whatever time you plan on coming, that is HIGHLY recommended by all who stay here and by the staff. The farther out you can make the reservation, the better! You can't pick your site when you reserve, you just are reserving a place--you pick it when you arrive.

Sparky checked out the bike trails yesterday, at least one of them, on the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. There are SIX bike trails, ranging from one mile to two and three-quarter miles, so you could do just a trail and have a relatively short ride, or you could combine them and have lots of miles to ride. The trails are wide asphalt and beautiful! Sparky rode the Gulf Ridge Trail yesterday, along the Twin Bridges Trail and back along the campground road. She thoroughly enjoyed it! There was plenty of shade and lots of memorial benches. My favorite was this one....

Supposedly, there are resident alligators that can be seen at a couple of places along different bike trails in warmer weather...The Gulf Oak Ridge Trail has an observation post to view them, but none were seen today....darn!

There are even covered porch swings along the trail to stop and take a rest to enjoy the view. A couple of the other porch swings on the trail overlook fire burned areas. Guess the park had a big forest fire last year and more than 10% of the park burned. It's always sad to see that, but encouraging to see the new growth that quickly comes back to start a new cycle. This swing overlooks the lake area as you are coming back into the campground.

With all the wonderful facilities for families at the state park, it's surprising that there are NO basketball hoops! What, no basketball court? That's right! And no pickleball! I talked to several staff while I was here, and they weren't familiar with pickleball at all. Just going to have to work on that the next time we come back.... Maybe we can convince them to paint or tape one tennis court for pickleball...Not one person was out on the tennis courts the three days we were here....and these courts looked NEW. They are building an ampitheater by the nature center, which also was very nice. All the amenities buildings looked very new and very nice....This has got to be the crown jewel in the Alabama State Park system......We'll definitely be back!  Tomorrow we move to Emmaus (Emmas) RV Park, another quiet little gem of a park in Summerdale, Alabama. See you there!


  1. Marsha & I love to play pickleball. We've only played in the Texas Rio Grande Valley (RVG) while there last winter. Never see any courts in other places.

  2. We love pickleball too...just learned how to play last year. Pickleball is huge in Arizona. Wish more places would put in markings for pickleball on existing tennis courts that are not being used! It would be so easy for them to do that and very little money! And it would really draw in people who love the sport!

  3. What is Pickleball?

    Inquiring minds want to know.


  4. Nice tour, let us see some of what we missed while we were there.

  5. Looks like a great place. Love the idea of all those bike trails. Wonder how cold it actually gets there in January and February??

  6. Pickleball? That's a new one for me. You will have to do a little Blog post for us who aren't familiar with it.
    I enjoy your travel photos and adventures.