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Level: Beginner
Length: 15 mi (24.1 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +217/290 ft
Total: 131 riders

Mountain Biking Sylaward

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#5 of 97 mountain bike trails in Alabama
#827 in the world

This trail is a lot of fun. It is an out and back with 4 separate loops off of the out and back section. The trail was machine cut by Trails Unlimited and the NFS and is incredibly smooth, virtually no roots and most of the trail is over hard-pack.
This is a very well laid out contour line trail with a great mix of elevation change. Nothing too long or steep but it keeps the blood and pedals pumping. Total length for the entire trail including the 4 loops off the trail is 14.5 miles. You can pick and choose different loops to make it shorter or longer. Trail is well marked with signs, mileage post and colored trail blazes for the different loops.

First added by on Dec 1, 2009. Last updated May 5, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
From Birmingham; take Hwy 280 East toward Sylacauga. Take CR 45 left. (Chevron station will be on your left) Go left on Odena Road S. and take it to the end. At the "T" go right on Broadway Ave. Take the second left onto Harper Springs Rd, take this down to the rail road crossing and take the immediate left on Oldfield Rd. Lake Howard Rd is down about 400 yards on the right. Follow Lake Howard Rd to Boat Dock Lane, the trail head is on the right before the boat ramp.
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Sylaward Trail map

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Local Info

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Trail checkins

stephenhaze (on Sep 13, 2019)
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Trail conditions

Good (on Sep 13, 2019)
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Rider questions

Q: Are dogs allowed?
A: yes.... i've seen many.....and there is a real sweet black lab who lives there

Q: What tire for a 27.5 hardtail would be recommended? I have Minion DHF/R 2.3, Ardent race 2.2, and Ikon 2.35

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  • FarmerDobes

    I’ve been trying to make it here for a while and I’m glad I finally checked it off the list this morning. Sylaward is awesome. I brought my full rigid singlespeed and felt like this was the perfect bike for the trail. The climbing to flow ratio here is goofy. I can’t recall any unpleasant ascending, even with only one gear, and the good riding just kept coming around every bend. The folks who did the design on this thing did a wonderful job, ditto for the folks who maintain it. For a beginner this would be a challenge, but for anyone intermediate and above it is going to be a speed fest. If you’ve got a decent set of legs and lungs and you live in the Deep South, sylaward has to be on your to do list.

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  • mcoosae

    As of late July, the trail is in excellent shape! Weeds have been cut back and there was no downed trees or even mud holes anywhere on the trail. Overall, very few rocks and only a few roots to whine about. Definitely an intermediate trail that can accommodate many types of riders.

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  • LStadelmeier   ✓ supporter

    This is a fun trail system for a nice little work out. There are not obstacles that require advanced skills and only a few shirt climbs. The trail is well marked and it is very difficult to get lost. The only disappointment was large sections are very overgrown. If it was cleaned up, this would be a great ride

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  • Seekers

    We're beginners and loved this this trail. Some uphill climbs but well worth the fast flows down. As a beginner some of the edges and turns on the way down were tricky.

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  • wh400

    One of the under reviewed trails in the area. It is fast, flowy, no huge hills and well maintained. I like it because you can see far ahead so you can fly through the corners. It makes me feel like I am a better rider than I really am because you can go so fast.

    Plenty of parking, generally very few people there, signage is good (just make sure you look at the maps so you know each of the loops before you head out.

    About an hour south of Birmingham and it really is worth the trip.

    Come to Birmingham,AL for a long weekend and within an hour's drive you Oak Mountain, Coldwater Mountain, Sylaward and Tannehill. Birmingham is the unsung hero of mountain biking.

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  • DirtNapper

    Drove 2 hours down there. Lake Howard CLOSED on Mondays. WTF?

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  • Caspr

    I had a great time on these trails. There is nothing too technical about them but there fast, flowy and really fun.

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  • wh400

    Tons of fun. Not technical but still fun. It is like a long flow trail. A few steep climbs but once you are at the top just ride and ride in a high gear and have fun. Very well maintained and smooth. One thing that I like a lot is that you can see far ahead so no worries about running into someone.

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  • Brian Hibbs

    I'm very fortunate to have this amazing singletrack right in my backyard... it's fast, flowy, and tucked in between beautiful scenery! As a bonus, it runs into the Talladega National Forest which opens up so many mileage possibilities by accessing the gravel/dirt forestry service roads. There is something out here for every rider...

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  • Kazy

    Beautiful, beginner trail

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  • Dogwood

    Love this trail! Good flow, very well maintained! Ferns, wild flowers, etc coming back after a controlled burn - very beautiful area! Have visited several times and I need to come back more often.

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  • chaseg5685

    great ride. some tough hills and just alot of fun

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  • floSoulo

    It's a smooth rollercoaster that keeps you flowing fast enough to not get drenched in the 'Bama heat. Lots of blackberries, too!

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  • rick417

    A great trail ride for a variety of experience levels. Beginners can work on their climbing endurance with some light technical areas. At least that's in the first couple miles. We were traveling and decided to stop to try this trail and only rode up to the Ridge Loop and back--only about 2.5 miles round trip. We hope to come back for the full deal. What we saw were well maintained trail, a nice parking area, and incredible views above the lake. The roots and rocks were minimal. It was a big confidence booster for my beginner riding partner.

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  • jydmarsh

    Trail had some wet spots but as always was a fun ride. Rode with 4 teenagers some of who are beginners and they did well.

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  • Autocrat9

    I love this trail system....and as others have said, the shear speed you can maintain is its greatest attribute. It is not very technical...but it does have some very intense climbs....but boy does it flow. If you like speed...give it all you got, and get ready for a roller coaster.

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  • ngneer

    Great ride was spot on with the reviews I had read. Well marked by the local bike group, COGS, just a little confusing at intersections but didn't take much to stay on right trail very flowing, peddled about as much as I coasted. Very nice place, I live abt. hour fifteen away. I think I will make this my home trail.

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  • jezones

    What this trail lacks in technical features it gains back in pure speed. It's a nice change of pace from Coldwater and Oak Mountain. Just pick a loop and ride it as fast as you can handle the turns. Really great flow and super fast. It's as close as riding a roller coaster as you can get on a bike. I'll be back

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  • dpom

    Pretty smooth and full of flow.

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  • Dogwood

    Great trail- very enjoyable ride! Well marked, well maintained. I will definitely be riding here again!

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