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The Causeway - US 90 to US 98
When the Eastern Shore Trail was designed, founder Teko Wiseman’s dream was to connect historic downtown Mobile on the western shore of Mobile Bay with the eastern shore of Mobile Bay...to include the communities of Spanish Fort, Daphne, Montrose, Fairhope, Point Clear, Y-Weeks, Barnwell, and Weeks Bay. Although the bridge with pedestrian access connecting Mobile to the Causeway has yet to be constructed, it was determined that connecting the two shores of Mobile Bay was a lofty ideal and needed to be pursued. Therefore, the proposed trailhead to the Eastern Shore Trail is at Battleship Memorial Park. Highway department officials have been working on the bridge from Mobile for many years- engineering, politics, and funding have slowed the process considerably. But we have high hopes.
Battleship Memorial Park, is situated at the west end of US 90, locally called the “Causeway,” which is a 7 mile highway crossing Mobile Bay from the city of Mobile to Spanish Fort and Daphne. Although there is no off road trail on the Causeway, the Department of Transportation agreed years ago to asphalt a generous 8 foot shoulder for cyclists to use in crossing the bay. There are three bridges to cross along the Causeway- the Admiral Semmes Bridge crossing the Tensaw River, the Appalachee River Bridge, and the Blakeley River Bridge. Heading east all three bridges have generous shoulders for the seasoned cyclist. Unfortunately, because of the age of the Admiral Semmes Bridge heading west, there is little shoulder available to the cyclist.
Because this segment of the Eastern Shore Trail has no off road trail, we suggest this route for seasoned road cyclists only. Parking is available at Battleship Memorial Park for $2.00.
The Baldwin County Trailblazers have recently submitted a grant to the ADECA Recreational Trails Program for funding to pave an 8’ wide asphalt path from the Battleship loop parking lot to US 90 and to construct a kiosk with maps for the trail user. Plans have been drawn and construction is forthcoming. As yet, there is no recognizable trailhead at Battleship Memorial Park.
What to do on the Causeway?
- Battleship Memorial Park on US 90 is home to the World War II USS Alabama Battleship and Aircraft Pavilion where more than 13 million visitors have experienced American history and paid tribute to Vietnam and Korean war veterans. www.ussalabama.com/
- Meaher State Park on US 90 provides visitors access to salt marsh boardwalks and fishing pier, nature trails, picnicking area and one of ten Coastal Alabama Birding Trail sites on the Eastern Shore Trail. http://www.alapark.com/meaher/
- Five Rivers Delta Center on US 90 provides pontoon boat tours of the lower Mobile Tensaw Delta, the Apalachee Exhibit Hall showcasing local flora and fauna, canoe and kayak rentals, hiking trails, and the Tensaw Theater showing nature films. www.outdooralabama.com/outdoor-adventures/5rivers/
What to eat on the Causeway...what’s not to eat?
From west to east:
- Tacky Jack’s- great deck overlooking the Delta
- R & R Seafood facing north to the Delta
- Felix’s Fish Camp- stunning view of the bay and Mobile
- Laps Grocery and Grill- facing north to the Delta
- The Original Oyster House - beautiful views of the Delta
- Ed’s Seafood Shed- great deck overlooking Mobile Bay
- Bluegill Restaurant- great deck overlooking the Delta
Points to consider...
If the Causeway portion of the Eastern Shore Trail is too ambitious for you or your family, consider exploring this part of the trail by car. Pick one of the parks for fun and then lunch at one of the Causeway’s restaurants before heading to a more user friendly part of the Eastern Shore Trail, such as...
Daphne’s Gator Alley
D’Olive Boardwalk Park - US 98
Gator Alley was designed with the sole purpose of getting through and under the maze of the Interstate highway system (I-10) and over D’Olive Creek so that the traveler from the Causeway could actually get to the eastern shore without a vehicle. It was a challenge needless to say. But with careful planning and creative engineering, a path emerged...winding and slow, the wooden ramps and walkways eventually find their way to the eastern side of US 98 at North Main Street in Daphne. Along the way, construction workers discovered several large alligators living in D’Olive Creek, and the name stuck.
After the traveller navigates the many twists and turns of the boardwalk, the trail takes the form of an 8 foot wide concrete sidewalk for 1.3 miles along North Main Street until the necessary crossing of the mammoth six lane US 98, toward the start of the charming two lane Scenic 98. At the junction of North Main Street and US 98 there is an automated crossing signal that stops traffic from every direction in order to facilitate crossing. Once on Scenic 98, the Eastern Shore Trail follows Mobile Bay south through Olde Towne Daphne, the rolling oak lined hills of Montrose, quaint Fairhope, Point Clear and on to the end at Weeks Bay.
Downtown “Olde Towne” Daphne - Scenic 98/Main St
In downtown Daphne the trail takes shape as a concrete path of varying widths for a distance of 3.8 miles along Main Street/Scenic 98, and passes the local library, city hall, churches, schools, parks, retail shops and restaurants. Design and construction was determined by a town already developed. Perhaps a slow ride...but a nice small town atmosphere and great local stops.
What to do in Olde Towne Daphne?
- Village Pointe Preserve Park on Scenic 98/Main Street is a magnificent 11 acre tribute to history and our local flora and fauna. Home to the historic D’Olive Cemetery, Jackson’s Oak, unsullied wetlands, streams, and woodlands, not to mention the beaches of Mobile Bay. Home to early Indians, the French, Spanish, and English settlers and soldiers, this park abounds in history and nature. http://villagepointpark.com/p-tour.asp
- Centennial Parkon Scenic 98/Main Street across from city hall is a happy well fenced children’s park with recreational equipment galore and bathroom facilities as well.
- May Day Parkon College Avenue just a few blocks west of Scenic 98 is right on Mobile Bay and has recreational equipment, picnic facilities, bathrooms, pier and boat launch.
- Belrose Parkat the bottom of Belrose Avenue provides beach access to the public. Picnic tables are down on the beach, but no bathroom facilities are available.
- The Old Methodist Church Museum and Cemeteryon Dryer Avenue is a beautifully restored church where Union soldiers slept on their way to the battle at Spanish Fort. Graves dating back to 1847. www.daphnemuseumalabama.org/
Where to eat in Olde Towne Daphne...all on Main Street
Points to consider...
If slow moving small town Daphne is not your cup of tea, skip on to the beautiful rolling hills of Montrose. No stops, no traffic, just stunning oak lined trails.
Montrose, the McDuff Trail - Scenic 98
The Montrose leg of the trail starts at North Winding Brook just beyond Daphne’s city limits and follows Scenic 98 for 2.4 miles through rolling hills and across four pedestrian bridges crossing a magnificent ravine, Red Gully, Rock Creek, and Fly Creek. The “village” of Montrose was laid out in 1847 by Cyrus Sibley and is still home to fourteen historic homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places dating back to the 1850‘s. Although not perceptible to the trail user, the Montrose bluffs boast the highest elevation of the eastern coastline from Maine to Mexico. The trail memorializes Ann and Larry McDuff, local environmentalists who lost their lives cycling on Baldwin County highways. Beautiful scenery, beautiful homes, beautiful memorial.
What to do in Montrose?
Historic Montrose Post Officeestablished in 1890 is still standing on Adams Street and is about the size of a large closet, quaint and original.
Montrose Cemetery and Grey-Oliver Cottageon Sibley Street was founded in 1856 by Cyrus Sibley on 9 acres in the heart of Montrose. http://www.montrosecemetery.org/
Stedman’s Landingat Sibley Street on Scenic 98 offers Mobile Bay access to the public via a long wooden staircase through a lush ravine and bubbling creek all the way down to the bay. Swimming and sun bathing encouraged.
Points to consider...
The McDuff Trail in Montrose is serene and hilly and used by locals for dog walking, jogging, and cycling. If you are hungry, time to get back to town...Fairhope, that is.
Fairhope, Single Tax Colony - Section Street
After you catch your breath from climbing the Montrose hills, you will find yourself at the intersection of Scenic 98 and Section Street, Fairhope’s main downtown north/south artery. Turning south to the right on Section Street will take you into town on various width concrete sidewalks. In order to avoid downtown traffic, the trail turns right on Oak Avenue, then left on Church Street, and a final right on Fairhope Avenue to take you straight to the Municipal Pier, beaches, and bay front parks. From the end of the Montrose trail to Oak Avenue is 1.4 miles.
If you want to get right into the middle of town, continue on past Oak Avenue for another .3 miles to the heart of the downtown shopping district at Section Street and Fairhope Avenue. Follow Fairhope Avenue east or west to discover quaint shops, restaurants, outdoor art, parks and museums. Roam around beyond Fairhope Avenue to discover more shopping on De La Mare Avenue, Church Street, North Bancroft Street, or just ride through the quaint neighborhoods surrounding the downtown area.
Whether you get to Fairhope Avenue through town or choose to bypass the shopping district, take a stroll through Knoll Park at Fairhope Avenue and Magnolia at the top of the bluff to enjoy its Longleaf Pine Forest and over 140 plant species. Then head down to the bay, carefully navigating the hill down to the Municipal Pier, rose garden and fountain. At the bottom of the hill, you can turn north and enter the Duck Park where there is recreational equipment for children right on the beach, ducks and geese galore, and bathroom facilities. If you head left and south at the pier, you can stroll along the bay and picnic. Or take a walk down the long pier and watch local fishermen cast their nets into the bay and take in the bay breeze.
If you choose to forego the steep hill down to the pier, head south on South Mobile Street (Scenic 98) and follow the bay through a stunning bay front park full of live oaks, outdoor sculptures, and another public pier. Much of the park is at beach level so there is easy access for beach walking, sunbathing, and swimming. At the far south of the park is a butterfly garden to study before you start your journey out of the city of Fairhope and on to Point Clear.
What to do in downtown Fairhope?
Fairhope Colony Cemeteryis at the corner of Section Street and Oak Avenue and was founded by the Fairhope Single Tax Colony in 1895.
Eastern Shore Art Centeris on Section Street across from the Colony Cemetery and is free to the public. It hosts changing exhibits and offers art workshops for children and adults. http://www.esartcenter.com/
Fairhope Museum of History is right on Section Street in the middle of town next to the Visitor’s Center and is chock full of local history. Don’t miss the Museum Plaza behind the museum for its stunning fountain designed by local artist America Jones and the Craig Sheldon sculpture. http://www.cofairhope.com/dep_museum.php
Marietta Johnson Museumis the home of the original progressive School of Organic Education founded by Marietta Johnson in 1907. http://www.mariettajohnson.org/
Fairhope Public Library is a beautifully designed library and a glorious place to read, research, or just relax. http://www.fairhopelibrary.org/
Fairhope Municipal Pier and Parks http://www.cofairhope.com/ser_parks_trails.php
Fairhope shoppinghas something for everyone, check out this website for local merchants: http://www.fairhopemerchants.com/
Where to eat in downtown Fairhope..choices, choices, choices.
- La Cocina Mexican
- Ben’s BBQ
- Camellia Cafe
- Master Joe’s
- Ravenite Pizzeria
- Tamara’s Downtown
- The Coffee Loft
- Panini Pete’s Cafe
- Buck’s Diner
North Bancroft Street
- Mary Ann’s Deli at the Windmill Market
- McSharry’s Irish Pub (& Grub)
- Sweet Olive at the Windmill Market
- Dragonfly Cafe
- Sandra’s Place
- Pinzone’s Italian
- R Bistro & Pastry
- Julwin’s Southern Country
- The Gumbo Shack
- Courtyard at 311
- Honeybaked Ham Cafe
- Papa’s Pizza
De la Mare Avenue
- Mr. Gene’s Beans (great stop for coffee & ice cream!)
- Red or White (wine tastings, food & more)
- The Fairhope Inn and Restaurant
- Cristina’s Cafe
- The Pelican Patio (outdoor dining often with 'live' music!)
Scenic 98 - Mobile St. ('the' bayfront road in Fairhope)
- Yardarm Restaurant on the Fairhope Pier!
- Thyme by the Bay
- Two Sisters Bakery and Deli
- Gambino’s Italian Grill
- Wintzell’s Oyster House
For pretty pictures and more information, check out this website: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g30521-Fairhope_Alabama.html
Point Clear and beyond... Scenic 98
Once you have traveled beyond the Butterfly kiosk along the bay, you will travel south towards the historic Grand Hotel at Point Clear along a too narrow sidewalk until you reach Nelson Drive where the trail crosses Scenic 98. The 5 foot asphalt Jill Hall Trail starts at Nelson Drive and follows Scenic 98 to the Grand Hotel. for 1.8 miles. One bump in the road is a bridge at the Grand Hotel that has no pedestrian access. The Trailblazers are working diligently to get a pedestrian bridge constructed here, but veering into the road at this point is unavoidable. Swing right back onto the trail after the bridge and head south.
Once past the Grand Hotel, the trail continues on to County Road 32 for another 1.3 miles as an 8 foot wide asphalt trail. At CR 32 the trail turns to concrete for 3.8 miles to the Y-Weeks Crossing.
At the Y-Weeks crossover, where the trail actually crosses Scenic 98, you can take a short half mile detour to County Road 1 to get to Mullet Point Park on the bay. Otherwise, continue on past the Y-Weeks crossover for 2.1 miles of asphalt trail to county Road 13 where the trail dead ends.
CAREFUL CYCLING!!! There is a 1.6 mile gap in the Eastern Shore Trail from CR 13 to State Highway 181 where there is no trail at all. The Trailblazers hope to secure a pending federal grant to complete this portion of the trail in the near future. Plans have been submitted and we are crossing our fingers. On road cycling therefore is a necessity until the trail picks up again at AL 181 and travels for a final mile to its end at Weeks Bay Reserve.
What to do on the Point Clear Trail?
Confederate Rest Cemetery is located at the end of Confederate Rest Road and is home to nearly 500 unmarked Confederate soldiers’ graves. http://suite101.com/article/the-confederate-rest-cemetery-point-clear-alabama-a302439
Public Beach Access is available at five locations between the Grand Hotel and Y-Weeks - at Zundel Road, Live Oak Avenue, Palmetto Avenue, Yupon Avenue, and Holly Avenue. These are narrow slivers of public property designated for beach access. There are no facilities available but wide open beach.
Mullet Point Park is on County Road 1 and has picnic tables under roof, outdoor grills, small pier and boat launch. No bathroom facilities are available.
Weeks Bay Reserve and Education Center is at the end of the Eastern Shore Trail and features a free educational interpretive center, a boardwalk leading to Weeks Bay and a pitcher plant bog boardwalk that connects to Fish River. http://www.weeksbay.org/
Where to eat on the Point Clear Trail?
Marriott’s Grand Hotel boasts several restaurants including a grand dining room, coffee shop, and Bucky’s Birdcage Lounge with beautiful views of Mobile Bay. http://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/restaurant/ptlal-grand-hotel-marriott-resort-golf-club-and-spa/
Punta Clara Candy Kitchen is located in a beautiful historic cottage right on the trail and serves traditional Southern sweet treats such as pralines, jams, jellies and cakes.
The Wash House Restaurant for fine dining is just behind Punta Clara Kitchen.
Blue Marlin Restaurant is farther down the trail just past the junction of Scenic 98 and US 98.
Points to Consider...
Although there is one 1.6 mile missing link in the Eastern Shore Trail from County Road 13 to State Highway 181 on Scenic 98, the completed portion of the trail from the Grand Hotel to CR 13 is long, wide, and flat for over 7 miles. Beyond the missing link at AL 181, there is one more mile of paved trail to trail’s end at Weeks Bay.