While the beautiful sandy coast of Orange Beach will surely be at the top of your list of things to do during your family getaway, you may also want to spend a few hours at the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, where you can explore a serene landscape that has remained relatively unchanged for decades. There are more than 10 miles of paths to hike and bike, making this area a perfect outing for families who want to take a break from the beach.
Picking a trail
Because of its unique location along the coast, the Backcountry Trail has numerous ecosystems to wander through, whether you want to take in panoramic views from a hilltop or get muddy at a swamp.
Along the Gulf Oak Ridge, you can enjoy true serenity as you look over the ledge to a picture-perfect valley. Located along the highest bluff in the area, the ridge gives you the opportunity to not only enjoy panoramic vistas, but have an up close and personal encounter with the area's wildlife as well. White-tail deer and migratory birds frequent the area, so you may want to encourage your children to be on the lookout for these animals.
The Cotton Bayou trail, on the other hand, weaves through the sandy dunes and wetlands of Orange Beach. Ideal for bikers, this path starts right on the beach and makes its way into the Backcountry Trail for about a mile before meeting up with the other routes.
Getting to know the wildlife
If you're an avid bird watcher, you'll find yourself spending hours at the Backcountry Trail, which crosses through major migratory locations for birds like the snow egret. Keep your eyes open for the park's residential gator, Lefty, who pays little to no attention to hikers passing through.
Bike, hike, or sit on one of the benches to observe the wildlife and admire the plant life. You can't go wrong when you visit the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail.