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Mountain Biking in Texas State Parks Picking Up Steam
AUSTIN – Mountain bikers throughout the state – from novices to experts — are increasingly pedaling the numerous trails found at more than 40 Texas state parks.
From beach and woodland road rides to hair-curling downhill descents in mountain and Hill Country parks, state parks from El Paso to Mustang Island offer bikers of all skill levels a multitude of diverse mountain biking adventures.
“Many trails in Texas state parks provide great opportunities for all levels of mountain-bike riders to test and develop their biking skills, get a good workout, refresh their mind and spirits, spend family and friend time together and experience the great outdoors,” says avid mountain biker Dan Sholly, deputy director of Texas state parks. “Big Bend Ranch State Park, in particular, is developing into the mountain-biking Mecca of Texas.”
State park biking trails range in length from an easy, two-mile, multiuse trail at Mexia’s Fort Parker State Park Site to more than 200 miles of diverse trails snaking through desert mountains and canyons at 310,000-acre Big Bend Ranch State Park just outside of Presidio. Bring your own bike or rent one at the park’s Visitors Center.
Big Bend Ranch State Park, home to the International Biking Association’s only Epic Ride in Texas, ranks among the nation’s top mountain-biking destinations. The ultra-challenging Fresno-Sauceda Loop, which passes by a number of archeological and historical sites, offers a blend of single-track and 4X4 roads with a number of steep climbs and descents. The ride to “The Other Side of Nowhere” is just one of dozens of rides on single-track, double-track and old, rugged 4X4 ranch roads in what remains a truly wild park with plenty of wide-open spaces.
Two other West Texas parks – El Paso’s Franklin Mountains and San Angelo state parks — offer more than 50 miles of mountain biking trails each with trails suited to riders with Level 1 (Beginner), Level 2 (Intermediate) and Level 3 (Experienced) skills.
Mountain bikers new to the sport might consider hitting the flat, sometimes paved bike trails at state parks as Brazos Bend, Fairfield Lake and South Llano River State Park. Bikers may want to seek out one of the rails-to-trails tracks at Caprock Canyons and Lake Mineral Wells, or scenic lakeside trails along the 10-mile Ray Roberts Lake Greenbelt Corridor, the 10-mile Fort Richardson Lost Creek Trailway, or the 13-mile Lake Somerville Trailway. The outstanding trail system at Cedar Hill State Park near Dallas draws legions of mountain bikers, too.
Pick up a copy of Bike Texas brochure on sale at a number of state parks or download a PDF version of the brochures at: http://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_bk_k0700_0715.pdf.
You also can find a wealth of information about mountain biking destinations and resources by visiting the mountain biking pages on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website.
And, there are now close to 20 short videos showcasing mountain bike opportunities at different Texas state park on TPWD’s YouTube Channel. These videos are grouped under the channel’s Biking in Texas State Parks playlist. Here are a brief descriptions of a few of these videos:
Mountain Biking at Brazos Bend State Park
Get your helmet and ride! Head out with park ranger David Heinicke at Brazos Bend State Park near Houston, a park with miles and miles of trails with something for any rider, including alligators. http://youtu.be/wXKe0DQqkbQ
Mountain Biking Big Bend Ranch State Park
Mountain Biking at Big Bend Ranch State Park in far West Texas is not for the faint of heart. The country is rugged and the trails can be challenging, but the opportunities are as boundless as the vistas. http://youtu.be/b1mQzYs32Ds
Government Canyon Bike Trails
Get a bike’s-eye view of the trails at Government Canyon State Natural Area in San Antonio. http://youtu.be/UUMeavjsFHE
Texas on Two Wheels
From peaceful pedals at local parks to epic journeys through rugged landscapes, mountain biking in Texas has it all. Meet one 78-year-old cyclist who proves that off-road riding is fun for all ages. From an episode of the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series. http://youtu.be/7xf77m7ds_k
Mountain Biking at Colorado Bend State Park
Load up the bikes as we try out some of the newest mountain bike trails at Colorado Bend State Park northwest of Austin. http://youtu.be/eLcItBMvqT8
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