Hit the Trails at Mount Zion
If your kids are bored with the same old neighborhood bike routes, or if your newly-planted flower beds need a break from adventurous pedal-pushers, check out the numerous bike trails around Mississippi. Brookhaven’s Mount Zion bike trail is a popular destination, not only for locals, but for biking enthusiasts across the country.
Situated just over ten minutes off I-55, Mount Zion is a quick hop off the freeway, where you can swap your car for a bike or your own two feet. At the trailhead, you’ll find a covered gazebo, sitting areas, and restrooms. There’s ample room to set up camp for the day and it’s set far enough away from the road that parents can relax on the swings around the firepit while the kids explore the trails.
There are five trails within Mount Zion’s 100 acres, each varying in length and difficulty. There’s a kids’ track, a beginner loop, a 10-mile race track, a perimeter loop, and an RC track with multiple features like see-saws and raised bridges. Wooden paths carry riders through the twists, turns, rises, and dips, that flow with the natural topography of the area. Nestled along the trails are Blue Jean Alley, a grouping of hanging jeans that visitors can sign, and Boneyard Alley, decorated with deer and cattle skulls and bones. The trails weave around two small ponds on the property, and there’s an old barn you can ride through on Knotthead Loop.
Johnny Smith, a Brookhaven photographer, started building this trail after his favorite biking spot was closed because of Hurricane Katrina. “With no clue as to how to build a bike trail, I began with a machete and a hoe on my free Saturdays, and chopped away until I had four miles.” He, along with several friends, joined a mountain bike race series in order to check out other trails, and brought home ideas to implement at Mount Zion. It’s now considered one of the top 20 biking trails in North America and is the best trail in Mississippi, according to the biking enthusiast website, Singletracks.
“It’s common to see a school bus or two parked at the trailhead in the afternoons during cross-country season; several local schools train here. Also, boy scout troops from Mississippi and Louisiana spend weekends at Mount Zion earning badges, camping, and fishing. Sundays after church on fall days are wonderful. Families can bike or hike on any of the trails, though the Kids Loop and Beginner Loop seem to be the favorites. Many even picnic afterwards. Occasionally we even have birthday parties. Families are encouraged to come anytime.”
Claire Snow, a Brookhaven native, brings her daughter and two dogs out to Mount Zion whenever the weather permits. “We’ve been coming out here for several years now. As my daughter, Eva, has gotten older, we’ve graduated from walking the shorter trails to the longer ones. It’s nothing but you, nature, and your family out here. It’s wonderful.”
The trail is free! There’s a donation box at the trailhead, and all the funds are used for the upkeep of the property. It’s clear that it’s a labor of love for the caretakers, who have made it an incredibly welcome place for everyone from the mom trying to burn off her toddler’s energy to competitive mountain bikers. Trails are open dawn to dusk, and only closed when conditions are too wet. Be sure to check local weather or text 601-754-7785 before you head out.
So check your tire pressure, strap on your helmet, and start a new adventure this spring with your family at Mount Zion!
Sarah Lowman Reynolds is a freelance writer living in Brookhaven, MS. Visit her blog www.SouthernFriedLove.org to get to know her better.
Bike Trails of Mississippi
Explore other bike trails throughout Mississippi:
Nester Trail, in Trace State Park
Blue Trail, in Petal River Park
Bayou Point Mountain Bike Trail, in Hernando
For more details on bike trails in Mississippi, check out MTBProject.com. You can search trails by location, terrain, and difficulty; plus, each trail page lists current trail and weather conditions.