Heart of Texas Magazine

What’s YOUR Big Bend Story? Explore Real Texas Beauty

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The Mountain Bikers

Eighty miles, three and a half days, (and mountain bikes!) Mike, David, Erik, and Rory, all climbers (ergo, tougher than nails) rode the Epic Plus trail in Big Bend Ranch State Park this October. They carried food and camping gear and were able to replenish water from springs and tanks along the way. With temperatures reaching into the 90’s and no shade, they did most of their riding in the morning. The four adventurers began their trip at the Barton Warnock Center, where they obtained a permit, then headed north on jeep roads. Because of a heavy rain in September, some of the road was washed out and much of it was loose sand, both difficult and impassible on bikes, so some of the time they were “bike packing.” Catclaw, cactus, and yucca growing out onto the trail were a constant threat, threatening to shred their clothes and skin. There are also single-track trails and side loops if riders have time for them. Hikers and bikers can visit the ruins of the old wax factory, mercury mines, and the Crawford-Smith house ruins. Their first camp was in Fresno Canyon, where they marveled at the night sky, with the Milky Way clearly visible and collected water from a small spring. Their second day ride was across an ancient caldera called the Solitario and up a hill on the Road to Nowhere, with camp at Tres Papalotes.

What’s YOUR Big Bend Story? Explore Real Texas Beauty

Photo by Mike Lewis and David Cain – Big Bend Ocotillo Flowers

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The solar powered well pump there was out of commission, but they were able to get water from the tank. Day three took them to the Sauceda Ranger Station, which has shaded porches, drinking water, free showers, and even WiFi. There is a bunkhouse there, but after spending the afternoon in the shade on the porch, the four rode to their final campsite, Pila de los Muchachos. This is located along the top of a ridge with rocky outcrops and a spectacular sunset. On their way out, one rider wrecked his bike and the others towed him five miles back to the pickup. Mike said, “Be prepared to do some bike mechanic work, use tubeless tires with plenty of sealant and have backup tubes… If you are prepared, it is fantastic fun and one of the most adventurous things you can do in Texas. If you need bike repairs or local advice on biking conditions, contact Mike Long at Desert Sports in Terlingua.”

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