Bethel Mountain Bike Trail in the Sun Herald

Thank you, Doug Barber and Amanda McCoy with the Sun Herald for a beautifully written and photographed article highlighting the Bethel mountain bike trails.  Volunteers from the Gulf Coast Bicycle Club and your Heritage Trails Partnership have been working diligently to improve these trails – making them much more interesting than they were in the past.  If you’ve not checked them out in a while, you need to go!

Don’t stop with the mountain bike trails though – just look at all the community ride opportunities available!  If you need a handy schedule, we have them listed on our website for your convenience.  http://www.gulfcoasttrails.org/home/get-involved/community-rides/
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Bicycling blossoms on Coast with more riding areas, groups

SUN HERALD/Published: July 13, 2013 Updated 23 hours ago
By DOUG BARBER — dmbarber@sunherald.com

Coast bicycle enthusiasts have many places to ride and more groups with which to ride these days.
From Pascagoula west to Bay St. Louis, from Desoto National Forest south to the beach boardwalk, bicylists can be seen pedalling along, getting good exercise while enjoying the scenery.

Ocean Springs can boast of the Live Oaks Bicycle Route, which extends 15.5 miles, and begins at the Old Louisville and Nashville Train Depot in downtown Ocean Springs.

Bicyclists in Pascagoula can ride the Historic Pascagoula Bike Trail, starting along the beachfront on a route that will take you by the Round Island Lighthouse (it was moved to its present location in 2010) and various historic points in the city.

Bike Biloxi is a 6.5 mile route that takes riders around the city, and starts at the CTA Building.

Gulfport has bike paths on Cowan-Lorraine Road, and many cyclists can ride on the beach boardwalk. A bike path is in the planning stages north of I-10 — the Lyman Landon Trail.

Long Beach cyclists can ride around their downtown area while Pass Christian bicycle riders ride in downtown Pass Christian, starting at War Memorial Park.

Desoto National Forest has four mountain biking trails of various lengths and difficulty to offer — South Bethel (5 miles), Couch (3 miles), Briar Patch (3 miles) and Badlands (9 miles) — off Highway 15 north of D’Iberville. Couch follows Tuxachanie Creek.

One thing that has made the bicycling experience on the Coast better has been the formation of groups that ride on certain days of each month. There are seven formal rides — the Bike Biloxi Dinner Ride, Long Beach First Thursday Ride and Dine, the Ocean Springs Tato Nut Ride, Pascagoula 2nd Saturday Bike Ride, Pedal in the Pass Bicycle Ride, the Gulfport Bike Ride, and Gautier Community Bike Ride.

Jeff Sellers of Competition Sports in Gulfport, who organizes rides on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, said that bike riding is both therapeutic physically and mentally.

“It’s one of the those things,” Sellers said. “I have a better outlook on everything when I go riding. It brightens my outlook. There is the comraderie. And when you finish, even though you can be tired and sore, you feel better.”
Kay Miller-Carter of the City of Biloxi pointed out the benefits of the Bike Biloxi casual ride. The goals are similar to the other biking communities, creating enthusiasm of cycling and meeting new people.

“It is family friendly,” Miller-Carter said. “People come out and ride every month. We have some new people each month. It is free and we never know how many riders will show up. They can get out and bike, and there is bike enthusiasm. We bike through the downtown area, along the beach and through neighbors. When we end, we have dinner at a restaurant which is optional.”

Jim Foster, of Gulf Coast Heritage Trails Partnership, said that one goal is for bicyclists to be able to ride from one end of the Coast to the other. The length from one end to the other for a bike route is 101 miles and would start at the western end at Infinity Science Center and go down to the beach and then east to the Alabama border.

“We need to get funding because a lot of places need safety improvements,” Foster said. “There is a proposed route in each municipality and county.”

Safety is paramount for bicyclists, and bike paths add to that safety.

Foster said that it is his experience that Mississippi car drivers are considerate. State law says that cars need to give bicyclists at least a three foot leeway. There are requirements for both bicycle riders and car drivers on the road.

The national Rails to Trails program also gives cyclists more options. There are two such trails in south Mississippi — one trail along Tuxachanie Creek in Desoto National Forest and the Longleaf Trace Trails that run 41 miles from the Southern Miss campus to Prentiss.

There are also Rails to Trails in Louisiana and Alabama — in New Orleans and on the Northshore, and in Alabama on the Eastern Shore of Mobile and down near the Alabama Gulf Coast near Orange Beach and Perdido.

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Photo Credit: Amanda McCoy/SunHerald