ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) — What once was an old county road, a service road or two, fire breaks and fence line has been transformed over the last 20 years into a destination on the Gulf Coast.

“To be able to go into the backcountry of a big park like Gulf State Park, it’s pretty unique,” says Director of Orange Beach Coastal Resources Phillip West.

The Hugh Branyon Backcountry Trail is actually a series of eleven trails covering 28 miles so far.

Gail and her husband Jerry were on the trail Thursday morning. “We walk every one of them,” she says.

It originated in Orange Beach and winds through Gulf State Park, into Gulf Shores and beyond.

Mark Landers is a fan. “It’s just so much nature that you can enjoy here,” he says.

There was a time when you could walk the trails for miles and never see another soul, but those days are gone. Now the trail is getting national attention.

The trail is now competing with venues from Arizona to Maryland in USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice travel awards where folks are encouraged to vote for their favorite during the competition that runs through February 17, 2023.

“We brag about it all the time to our friends,” says Movrich. “You need to go Orange Beach it’s such beautiful trails and biking it’s really a main reason why we come here.”

What once was a hidden gem could soon become a main attraction.