Pine Beach Trail–Gator Lake Trail, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

October 31, 2011
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Distance: 1.25 miles one way

Difficulty: Easy

 

Located in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge down Fort Morgan Road, the Big Pine Beach Trail is a two mile trail that brings hikers through pine forests, between Big Lagoon and Gator Lake, and to come out along the beach in the Gulf of Mexico.

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The hike begins along a gated service road, and its first mile walks through a fledgling pine forest. The sandy dirt road is almost completely flat, and makes for an easy hike. Be sure to pick up the free trail guide at the trailhead as numbered signs correspond with the guides information about the numerous types of flora located in the forest.

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Ignore the Centennial Trail sign, and at approximately one mile, a large wooden observation tower overlooking Gator Lake and parts of Big Lagoon can be climbed.

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On the day we visited, we saw thousands of schools of minnows in the brown waters by the platform, as well as several large herons.

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Crossing over the bridge, hikers can walk across a thin strip of land that divides Gator Lake from Big Lagoon.  Just past this strip of land, hikers can continue along the path way for approximately one mile along the dunes and will eventually reach the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.

 

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Alternatively, a sign indicates a second trail that forks to the right known as Gator Lake Trail. The actual trailhead can’t be seen, as it appears to be just a sandy dune, but follow the directions on the sign between the open sections of shrub and trees on the dune, and the trail will quickly become clear again.

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This mile long section of trail walks along the southern side of Gator Lake before emptying out onto Mobile Street and a second parking area.  Hikers can loop back to Big Pine trailhead by walking up Mobile street, or simply turn around and walk back the way they came.

 

 

Directions:

From Highway 59 traveling South toward the beaches of Gulf Shores:

1. Turn right onto Fort Morgan Road, and travel roughly 8.9 miles.

2. Turn left into Pine Beach Trail Parking for this trailhead.

To hike just Gator Lake, turn left onto Mobile Street (just past Pine Beach trailhead) and parking will be a couple of miles down on the left.

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3 Responses to Pine Beach Trail–Gator Lake Trail, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

  1. Pat on March 9, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    Are dogs allowed on this trail?

    • JP on March 10, 2013 at 4:43 am

      When I lived in the area about a year ago, dogs were not allowed. Unfortunately, there are so few places to bring a dog in the Gulf Shores area. There are, however, two dog parks in the area. One is pretty close to the beginning of Ft. Morgan road in Gulf Shores. The other is towards Orange Beach near the ICW when heading out to Bear Point Marina.

      There is also a paved bike path that parallels near Ft. Morgan Road that may allow dogs (just check the heat on the pavement for their little paws.

    • Chris Bailey on January 16, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      The wildlife refuge trails are closed to dogs. So are the beaches, except for an on-leash area at Fort Morgan. 🙁 The State Park has miles of paved trails that are open to dogs. There’s also a central site with restrooms, water fountains and dog bowls.

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