HIKE & BIKE
Austin has several miles of hike & bike trails.
BicycleAustin.info generally doesn't cover
mountain biking issues, but here are a couple of
resources we have:
* Here's a link to the Austin
Ridge Riders web site.
* Local group: Church
of the Knobby Tire.
* See below for Jim Summers' review of some local
Austin Mountain Biking
* 441-3344 * Nov. 1996
Much more to the Green Belt than most people know: Jackson
Hole to Hill of Life side loop
I also thought there were aspects of the trail that would
appeal to intermediate-advanced riders that were not on the
map or on any discussion I've seen. Jeff ?, the guy who runs
the mountain bike touring company in Austin and I got
together early in his tour guide career and I showed him
some of these trails. A very pleasant intermediate 1 to 2
mile loop off the main green belt occurs after Jackson Hole.
It goes from the trail due west to parallel 360 and then
drops back down to the main trail about 1/4 -1/2 miles from
the Hill of Life. A black rock marks the start, but now the
side trail is becoming more obvious.
It is a very nice technical climb in places, simply
pleasant in others. You can enjoy a screaming descent back
down to the main trail. It has places on it more rugged than
the Hill of Life, but they do not last very long. However,
the entire climb is longer, so it's nearly an equal test of
the legs and more so a technical challenge. I'm pretty
convinced the trail is legal, but I can't swear to it, as it
goes all the way up to the fence by 360, parallels it, and
then drops back down.
The Hill of Life used to be closed and we should rename it
Hartman Hill in honor of the guy who opened it
By the way, I call that hill Hartman Hill. Several years
ago, John Hartman orchestrated a meeting with the Parks and
Rec board to get the trail on it opened. The people at the
top of the hill had cut a deal with Parks & Rec to keep
it closed so riff raff like me would not be parking up there
and hiking or riding up or blasting down. Hartman turned up
at least 10 major neighborhood groups to argue against the
special deal. The local folks turned out in mass to oppose
us wild people, even hiring Carol Rylander, the former mayor
or council person at the time. Due to Hartman's diligence in
getting the other neighborhood groups there, we now have the
Hill of Life to enjoy and can make a loop of the ride by
going back on 360. Some interesting history not many know
about. Hartman's not even a mountain biker, but a hiker who
spent many hours on the trail.
Great old-style hill climb across the Twin Falls
To find a really great trail, go across the Twin Falls.
Once you go across the stream, you'll see trails going left
and right. Go right. The trail crosses over a log and is
otherwise smooth. After about 1/4 of a mile the trail will
head down towards the creek. Just before that down turn
starts, you'll see a faint trail going off to the left which
is much less worn than the main singletrack. It leads off to
the left and goes under some trees. You cannot tell any
decent trail is there at all due to the tree cover. I have
shown that trail to several people, including Jeff. Only now
is it scarcely visible versus nearly invisible. The start to
this long climb is quite difficult, although top riders can
probably do it. It ends up being a long technical climb up,
about three times as long as the Hill of Life and much more
in the tradition of mountain biking like used to prevail in
Forest Ridge before all the fences and shit fucked it up.
There are some enticing side trails off the climb up, but
none of them go anywhere of interest that I've found.
Once you get to the top there are some side trails, but
they seem to lead to places we are probably not welcome.
I've ridden all over the area, but it's a
development-regression in the process of taking place. I
doubt we are really welcome on the long climb, but I don't
know. Anyway, the two trails--Jackson Hole to Trail of Life
loop and this one--add a considerable challenge and a lot of
fun to the standard old Green Belt ride. For sure, if either
or both trail is not legal, putting it on the Net would get
it closed fast.
If you want, I can show these trails and any others I
describe to you. Please be advised that I'm 50 and woefully
out of shape, having been unable to ride, hike, or run for 6
months due to a knee injury. I'm just now getting back to
trying 5 minute runs and short rides with an unsure
No one ever mentions the area behind Toys R Us
Other trails off the Green Belt which are not on the
Mountain Biking in Austin home page include the labyrinth of
trails behind Toys R Us. There is so little publicity about
that I guess it must be illegal, but there is some mighty
fine riding there and several options to take going up or
Pedernales & Lake Somerville
Other trials not mentioned there include Pedernales and
Lake Somerville. I have not ridden Pedernales in years, but
when I did it seemed there was not much distance. Lake
Somerville is great for a night ride or taking utter
beginners. It's not much fun if you want a challenge beyond
a few bumps to the butt.
A guy I met from the Texas Bicylce Coalition at the
Bicycle Sport Shop told me that the LCRA has 2500 acres of
land up around Lake Travis which they have opened to
mountain bikers. It is not yet advertised and is mostly jeep
trails. The guy said it has no single track yet, mostly
jeep-type roads, but that it is pretty. He said the start
was a hard hill. He said if you called the LCRA they would
give directions. Whether it is any fun for technical riders
I don't know.
The Forest Ridge area was more fun for me than many
places I traveled to for rides, such as Colorado (three
different trips to different locales), and Moab. Now it is
so wrecked by the high fence and the trail closures, I
seldom go there. Houses are now built on some of the better
trail intersections. Nonetheless, some excellent trails
probably survive. Not too many people know about the nice
trails that lead off the gravel road near the end of Jester
Estates road and head down to Spicewoods Springs. There are
some great descents here and decent climbs back. There are,
or were, several routes down and back. Much of that is
private land, I think, so I don't know what would still be
open or appropriate to post on the net.
Once down on Spicewoods Springs at the trail head by the
stream, there is an access to trails near the horse stables
which are decent climbs and worth exploring. It's only about
1/4 to mile away. Coming back down from that and heading
Spicewood to 360 you can go in the White Horse or White
Castle loop road and slip back into the Forest Ridge area.
This is now a road leading up to the housing that is going
in, so that may be illegal or closed now too. We've lost a
lot more than we've gained in the last several years when it
comes to trails.
Another trail that starts near the Jester Estates road
end leads down a long way and ends near someone's back yard.
I guess that's illegal too.
East of 360 trails
You probably know the trail across 360 from Forest Ridge.
It was a wonderfully challenging out and back ride that is
now fucked up by housing developments-regressions. It went
along the ridge line on the east side of 360. There may be
by-passes for the houses in the way, but I don't know.
Finding them there on my last ride was very aggravating.
Another trail on the east side of 360, which may be
somewhat intact, goes from the Davenport Ranch park off of
XXXX out to the water tower just before the Nature Center on
360 near Bee Cave. There are some really grueling jeep road
hills in this area. These hills definitely will challenge
you. I wonder if Overend could come up one of them when he
was in his peak. I know some of this trail should be legal,
as the hilly and rough jeep road is the access to a power
line. The trail going into the water tower area puts you in
the warbler preserve, but no fences were crossed or signs
observed when I was last there before the leg injury. This
trail is so hard and rough that I have never seen another
rider there, yet the "expert" riders say they like it. I
never advanced beyond sport, but I like the technical
Back to Forest Ridge
Even if much of Forest Ridge is wrecked, there are still
a lot of excellent trails there. Not too many people seem to
ride the trails going directly off from the base of the
water tower. Right after you come up to the water tower from
the 360 parking lot, you see a row of rocks blocking the
trail down to jeeps. Instead of going on past the rocks and
next to the water tower, turn right and within 1/8 of a
block you'll hit two or three excellent descents. There are
at least two other good descents on that side of the gravel
road too. Maybe they are private. Who knows? They are much
more technical than the stuff on the other side of the road,
with some exceptions.
There's also the private trail out at Hamilton Pool or
Park where the shooting range is. There was a nice race
there some years ago. I think it's still available. The
course was great.
Well, that exhausts my top of the mind recollection of
trails still surviving around Austin. I only hope the legal
ones stay that way and the open private ones last a few more
Memories of Bastrop Park
Years ago, before the Bastrop Park declared mountain
bikes unwelcome, the hiking trail was a great beginner to
intermediate ride. I could tell you how to access the
untraveled end of the trail and reduce the probability of
rangers finding you by 95%, but it's still not as much fun
as what can be found in Austin still. The rangers seem to
set up their patrols for those entering and exiting the
trail in the Bastrop Park near the park road. Access exists
If you can stand a slow riding, out of shape guy, I have
free time starting 12/23/96 to about 1/07/96. I could show
you these places and maybe you could show me some new ones
to replace the losses from development-regression.
-- Jim Summers, 441-3344
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