The Urban Gorilla is more like an event celebrating cycling in Tallahassee. It is held annually and has been going on for several years. Mountain bikers at the event ride well over 50 miles if they ride it to completion, with the group helping to motivate individuals. Also, it goes through most of Tallahassee’s parks and trail systems, giving you a better feel for the trails you find in each park.
What makes it an intermediate-level ride is mostly the distance, with plenty of flat, flowy terrain. However, there are lots of optional features in each trail system that can make it more technical. We didn’t manage to make it to the event typically held on Super Bowl Sunday, but just because it’s an event doesn’t mean you can’t ride the total 55.9-mile distance of the Urban Gorilla any other day.
You can start the ride at City Hall, and with plenty of parking in the city, it shouldn’t be that hard to find a place to leave your car while you tackle the Urban Gorilla. The Capitol Parking Lot near City Hall is among the best places to park, although you will need to pay for parking.
Once you take your mountain biking gear out, you can head toward Chain of Parks to officially start your loop. If you’re riding alone or with a small group, watch out for cars and traffic as you navigate the street before you get to the singletrack.
Being over 50 miles long, it’s no surprise that the Urban Gorilla is actually a mix of shorter trails. Many of these are independent, named trails that you could tackle on their own if you aren’t looking to complete the Urban Gorilla.
Nevertheless, some of the parks in the city you’ll go through include the Alfred B Maclay Gardens State Park, the Lafayette Heritage Park, Tom Brown Park, etc., each with its trail system.
Overall, the Urban Gorilla has everything you could wish for in a mountain bike trail in Florida. For instance, hilly and Florida are two words that typically don’t go together, and as such, most of the Florida trails don’t offer much in the way of elevation changes. However, by going through this loop, you will come across a few sustained climbs that eventually lead to fun descents.
Most of the 55.9-mile singletrack is skinny and flowy and takes you through various scenery. This includes lakes, rivers, creek crossings, woody areas, open areas, etc.
You will also encounter root and rock gardens, with the latter typically being manmade. Rock gardens are often optional. You’ll also decide whether to ride on some of the logs that make up part of the trail.
Jumps, drops, and berms are a dime a dozen, and just like with the rock gardens, you can opt out of some of them. There are also some boardwalks, bridges, and a wooden skill section, not to mention you may come across some wildlife, i.e., squirrels and turtles, depending on the park you’re at.
Another inclusion is the pump track at the Tom Brown pack.
If you have the stamina to complete this loop, it’ll likely be the most fun you’ll have on a trail in Tallahassee. After that, you can pick favorites and determine which trails to return to.
Some interesting sights on this trail include Lake Overstreet, Lake Lafayette, and Piney Z Lake. There’s also a section of the Alfred B Maclay Gardens State Park with helmets hung along the trail.