The Best Mountain Biking in Texas

I often brag that Texas has some of the best mountain biking in the United States.  One of the reasons I love them is that I don’t have to climb for hours before the start of the singletrack.  Most are loops or multiple loops of singletrack in rolling hills which have natural technical features such as rocks. Here’s a little of my all time favorites:

Reveille Peak

Colorado Bend

Government Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

Flat Rock Range

Camp Eagle

Big Cedar

Transylvania, Romania (MTB)

By far one of my favorite places in all of Europe. It’s like being in a simpler time and place. I drove from Germany to Romania. There are no highways past Budapest and I drove on rural roads the rest of the way. Once in Romania, I past horse driven buggies, entire families out stacking hay, and breathtaking scenery. My objective for this trip was to spend a week mountain biking in Transylvania, the Carpathian Mountains.
I’ve got videos from each day of my trip:

Day 1: Zarnesti
Day 4: Azuga Ridge part 1
Day 4: Azuga Ridge part 2

Horse driven buggies are everywhere

 

Families stacking hay


Plenty of brothy soups

Black bear cub

 

Black bears


  

Plenty of fresh water streams

 

Bran Castle


  
  
  
  

Reveille Peak Ranch, Texas (MTB)

This is my favorite Texas mountain biking trail system. A little Moab in Texas. The difficult loops are very cool with big granite rocks that you have to negotiate up, across and down. This 60 mile trail system was completed in 2010 by the Austin Ridge Riders. When I moved back to Texas, this was my inaugural ride and the only bike I brought on the plane was a hardtail which was a big mistake. I’ve since been back several times with a fully which makes a world of difference. I usually ride the race loop with the “extra credits” (which consist of the Upper, Inner, and Reveille Peak loops). I suggest this route to intermediate to advance riders as includes the hardest single trails in this trail system. This route is also really easy to remember by just following the race track and the “extra credit” trails when you see the signs for them. This way you won’t get lost. The flow trail, super d, and Epic are also great singletrack trails. Only half the trails at RPR are singletrack (all the ones I mentioned). The rest are jeep roads. There is also a high school race loop and many beginner trails which makes RPR a great place for the whole family. The cost of admission is $10 and another $10 for camping.

Enchanted Rock, Texas (Rock Climbing)

There is something magical about Enchanted Rock.  The pink granite rock formations are just out of this world and makes for a climbing wonderland.  I conquered my first crack climb and a 5.9
    
    
    
    
    
 

Gozo, Malta (Scuba Diving and Cycling)

It has been a life long dream of mine to obtain my diving certification. Instead of spending weeks farting around at a local pool, I decided to take my first diving vacation and obtain my certification that way. The destination: Gozo, Malta! 11 dives in five days and I obtained my PADI advance open water certification. Most of the pictures are from a day trip I took riding (40 miles) around the island. It was hard to get pictures of the dives but i managed to get a photographer on one of my dives.
         

Azure’s Window. The main objective of my trip, the Blue Hole

  

Azure’s Window from a distance

  

Tequilla plant

  

Dwejra Cliffs and Salt Pans

  

Dwejra Cliffs and Salt Pans

  

Dwejra Cliffs and Salt Pans

  

Limestone Quarry which all the houses are built from

   

The Maltese Jesus

The Citadel in the center of Gozo

  

Ta’ Pinu, the National Shrine of Gozo

Mġarr ix-Xini. I ended up here several times, cycling, diving, and kayaking


 
 

Mġarr ix-Xini. It is also a good spot for climbing

  

Ramla Bay

 

Blue Lagoon

  

Sancto Joanni Baptistae

  

Sancto Joanni Baptistae

 

The telephone booths and street lamps are signs of English colonial times

  

Ta’ Cenc

 
 

Ta’ Cenc

  

Ta’ Cenc. My favorite part of my ride around the island

  

Williwaw Lakes, Anchorage, Alaska (Hiking)

A popular winter hiking trail from Anchorage with over nine lakes is Williwaw Lakes. The scenery is incredible with mountain peaks everywhere! The hike through the valley to the first lake at the bottom of Mount Williwaw is flat and easy. The first lake is 6 miles from the Glen Alps or 7.5 miles from the Prospect Heights trailhead.    
    
 

Government Peak, Hatchers Pass, Alaska (MTB)

Winter broke up with Anchorage this year. The local mountain biking trails were iced over from the constant thaw and freeze cycles. Despite having studded fat bike tires, the ice was dangerous to ride in. In search of snow, we decided to drive the hour to Hatchers Pass and check out the recently built Government Peak MTB trails. We hit the jackpot! What we found was a four mile loop two-way singletrack which packed snow. It has great bermed corners, great flow, and an overall fun trail. Thank you Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers for building such a great trail.     
    
 

Near Point, Anchorage, Alaska (Hiking)

Near Point is a moderate 4 mile (one way) hike with 1500 ft of elevation gain to get in views of the city of Anchorage and the Cook Inlet. I’ve only done this hike in the winter. I was informed by friends that it is a safe winter hike free from avalanche danger. You can elect to follow the ridge line further back and that can take you to many more peaks, and views. The hike can be accessed from the Prospect Heights trailhead which has a $5 parking fee for the day.   
  
  

South Fork Eagle River Trail, Alaska (Hiking)

Another favorite winter hike of mine is South Fork Eagle River. The main trail is 6 miles one way along a ridge line and descends into a valley. After crossing a boulder field, the trail ends up in a saddle between two lakes, Eagle and Symphony Lakes. In the winter the boulders can get too icy to climb over. Even if you don’t make it to the lakes because of the shorten days and icy conditions, the hike is still absolutely stunning.  
  
  
  

Winter Hiking Around Anchorage

Winter in Anchorage has been absolutely magical!  When the weather cooperates, there are no shortage of activities.  This and last winter has been unusually warm and keeping active during thawing/re-freezing temperatures can be challenging.  Mud, ice, and slushy snow has limited my fat biking and skiing.  Instead of staying indoors, I’ve opted for winter hiking.  Here are few areas in and around Anchorage which are great winter hikes:

Rabbit Lake

Ships Pass

Trails in Eagle River Nature Center

Goldmint

Nancy Lakes

Eagle and Symphony Lakes

Near Point

Bear Mountain

Bird Creek

Williwaw Lakes

Baldy

South Fork

Winner Creek

I will add to this list as I learn about more winter hiking locations.

When hiking in the Winter, please take safety into consideration.  There is a great article from Alaska Magazine:  http://www.alaskamagazine.com/index.php/blog-frame/339-tracy-w-kalytiak