Redstone Arsenal (RSA) is a U.S. Army post that is surrounded by Huntsville and neighboring communities. It is over 36,000 acres and is where over 38,000 people in the Tennessee Valley work each and every day of the week. There are several requirements to enter RSA, but it’s a great place to ride a bike after 5 p.m. and on weekends and holidays, due to low traffic on most RSA roads after hours. It’s also possible to commute by bike from much of Huntsville, and in the future, more of the surrounding area will be able to safely commute by bicycle to RSA.
Requirements to Ride on Base
Must have an access badge, issued to those who work on post, OR
Have a family member or retired military access card OR
Be accompanied by someone who has a badge AND
Carry an official picture ID like a driver’s license
Be an American citizen
Wear a helmet
Wear a reflective vest or bandolier* (a wide reflective belt worn diagonally across your body –the same requirement for motorcyclists). This is a 24/7 requirement.
Obey all Alabama state traffic laws while riding on RSA roads, including lighting during dusk, dawn, and low light weather conditions**
* Although the minimum requirement to wear a reflective bandolier or belt will satisfy gate guards, cyclists are well-advised to wear highly visible shirts and bright reflective vests, i.e., not the bare minimum, but the maximum in visibility.
** Alabama state code requires a front headlight and a rear red reflector and mentions that a rear light is also a good idea but that the rear red reflector is also required. Cyclists are well advised to use both red rear reflectors and bright red blinky lights to meet the required low light visibility requirements.
Both clarifications and pieces of advice indicated by asterisk above are very good guidance about riding anywhere in the Tennessee Valley, day or night, the brighter the better for clothes and lights, day or in low light conditions.
RSA Gate Access
The following are gate access times:
Gate 1, Martin Road (East): 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. CT, Monday- Friday
Gate 3, Redstone Road: 5:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. CT, Monday- Friday
Gate 7, Martin Road (West): 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. CT, Monday- Friday
Gate 8, Goss Road: 5:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. CT, 7 days a week
Gate 9, Rideout Road: Open 24/7
Gate 10, Patton Road: 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. CT, Monday- Friday
Parking and Gate Access
Redstone Arsenal is best accessed by motor vehicle off I-565 (exit 14a) just west of Huntsville at Gate 9 at the Redstone Arsenal Visitors In-Processing Center. Because this is an active Army Post, all vehicles are subject to search and all persons are required to show identification at the gate. You can find more information about the Visitor Center by calling (256) 876-1122.
If you are meeting someone to ride on post, the Gate 9 Visitor Center parking is good place to meet, if they are driving to RSA with their bike.
If you have access to RSA or are riding with someone who does, driving on base and parking near your office is a safe place to park and will provide easy access to restrooms and water. Otherwise, parking at the several Wellness/Fitness centers or gymnasiums is an option for accessible parking lots, water, restrooms, and possibly showers, if you have access and know the hours of operation.
Where to Find Water
There are several places to obtain water on post:
North end of 4316, the MSFC Multi-purpose Activity Building on Digney Road, next to the MSFC Wellness Center, is open for water, bathroom, and ice.
RSA Fire Stations: Rideout Road near Martin Road, Patton Road at Redstone Road, and Vincent Road at Redeye Road.
At your office building or Wellness Center on post.
Places to Ride on Post
Many roads shown on maps are not open to the public. Download the Redstone Arsenal bike routes map, which shows many of the roads that are routinely ridden by recreational cyclists on RSA. There are two recreation areas on the Tennessee River that are popular destinations for cyclists. Rides to the river are out-n-backs and there is no way to ride a loop around the south end of post because Dodd Road is closed to traffic (except for once a year for the Director’s Tour d’Arsenal).
The RSA Fitness Trail
The 6.2 mile fitness trail located on the Redstone Arsenal circles three-quarters of the way around Madkin Mountain. It is a paved jogging trail of which over half is built on a former rail bed. There is an additional 1.5-mile spur jogging trail around the Sparkman Center, and other spurs around the MWR and MSFC Exchange Wellness Centers, both on Digney Road. Close to the halfway point, the trail bisects the disc golf course. On the north end of the trail, there is a climb and descent along Goss Road. There are two playgrounds adjacent to the trail and water at three locations.
The trail is well maintained and the northern part of it was repaved in 2010. Also, the hill on the north end might be too steep for wheelchairs or strollers. It is perfectly fine for biking, walking, and jogging. About half the trail is shaded.
Mountain Biking on Post
Some people mountain bike on post, but it is officially not allowed due to the various hunting seasons that are allowed in the wooded areas of RSA.
Commuting to Work on RSA
There are a number of bicycle commuters who regularly or occasionally ride a bike to work at RSA. Gate 9, Rideout Road, is not currently a great choice to ride on post by bicycle. This may change with the completion of a bike trail to Gate 9. When completed, Gate 9 may be accessed from Governor’s West near Bridge Street. Much of this trail has been built, but the connection to Governor’s West is still inaccessible. Hopefully, Gate 7 at Martin Road West will become bike-friendly upon the completion of road improvements on Martin Road West.
The best/safest gates to ride onto the base are Gates 1, 8, and 10. These are commonly used by bicycle commuters and recreational riders, because there are wide shoulders on Martin Road East. These gates are accessed via lightly-traveled side roads, approaching the post through residential Huntsville neighborhoods. There are bike-friendly side roads and quick access to the RSA Fitness Trail inside the gate. Check gate hours and see the Redstone Arsenal routes map to see several commuting routes from Huntsville east or northeast of RSA.
Places to Shower if You Commute by Bike to Work
The MWR Wellness Center and the MSFC Wellness Center are both on Digney Road, but only members are allowed to use the facilities. There are other MWR gymnasiums and satellite workout centers in the Sparkman and Von Braun complexes. Besides the MSFC Exchange Wellness Center, there are showers in buildings 4205 and 4605.
Don’t Forget the Annual Director’s Tour d’Arsenal (DTdA)
The largest free bike ride in North Alabama, the Annual Director’s Tour d’Arsenal (DTdA) ride is held each May during National Bike Month. The ride roughly follows the historical railroad route around the southern part of the Arsenal, making a loop along Dodd, Buxton, and Patton Roads and features a trip through the NASA Test Areas and Army Test Area 1 (TA1).
The route returns north along Patton Road well after most traffic has left the Arsenal. This is the only time that a large loop can be ridden on post because Dodd Road is normally closed through TA1 year-round. Marshall Team Redstone Alliance for Cycling (MTRAC) coordinates with MSFC Center Ops Director, Steve Doering, for road sweeping and he also leads the DTdA along with AMRDEC director Steve Cornelius.
If You Work on Post, Join MTRAC, Marshall Team Redstone Alliance for Cycling
The Marshall Team Redstone Alliance for Cycling (MTRAC) hosts several activities each year. For more information visit the MTRAC website, or for NASA employees and contractors follow the MTRAC ExplorNet group.