One of the beautiful things about the 100 Alabama Miles Challenge is that everyone can collect their miles in a variety of ways. Choosing multiple ways to get in your miles is a great way to keep up the energy and enthusiasm for finishing the initiative.
Recently, I spent a day paddling and running the Duck River Reservoir in Cullman. This 640-acre area contains a variety of outdoor options for #100ALMILES participants, most notably a ~20-mile dirt trail circling the reservoir. On this day, I decided to create my own personal duathlon—an eight-mile trail run and two-mile paddle.
In 2019, three boat ramps and trail access opened to the public. I decided to park at one of the ramps located in the middle of the reservoir. A trailhead was located on either side of the parking lot, making it easy to immediately hit the trail. I decided to tackle the singletrack first and then paddle after. Within a matter of minutes of arrival, I was cruising down the trail.
Despite the trail only existing for a couple of years, it felt like it had been part of the terrain for quite longer. The dirt is well-worn and yet still has the right amount of roots and rocks to make it challenging. Throughout the eight mile out-and-back run, I was treated to frequent views of the river. The trail meanders through the woods, skirting farmland and private property, and yet it constantly feels like you’re far from civilization. The setting is also ideal for a variety of birds, many of which can be spotted on the river through gaps in the trees while on the run.
After finishing my trail miles, I quickly aired up my inflatable standup paddleboard. As the day was warming up, the water felt great on my feet as I waded briefly into the river. I find few things more peaceful yet invigorating than paddling on flat water in a beautiful location. The miles feel more effortless when the scenery is picturesque. Now with a different perspective of the area, I could see sections of the trail I’d just finished. From the water it was more evident that the trail was rolling through the woods. In less than an hour, I finished my water adventure and was back at my car at the trailhead.
In addition to this area being a fantastic spot for a multi-sport adventure, it’s also in close proximity to several cities including Cullman and Arab. I decided to head into Arab for a quick coffee and snack. Four Knights Coffee is a perfect spot to quench your thirst. I also grabbed a huge cinnamon roll because I earned it! Check them out and the rest of this quaint town when you’re out getting your #100ALMILES in the area.