A huge day in the saddle and super challenging,” says IMBA board member and Mountain Bike Hall of fame inductee Hill Abell. “Even the mostaccomplished 4-wheeler would have second thoughts about traversing the rugged double track segments, and you’ll witness incredible geography throughout the ride.”
This burly loop offers a blend of singletrack, creek beds and 4x4 roads, with frequent, often steep, climbs and descents. The riverbed sections vary from hard-packed to sandy and soft, with highly technical sections. There are significant archeological and historical sites along the route, including abandoned cinnabar mines, deserted homesteads and Native American pictographs.
Even super-fit riders will be tested by this Epic, but if you finish and still want more, it’s possible to access the Lajitas trail system from the eastern end of the loop, providing an additional 20+ miles of fast, flowing singletrack. The western side of the park offers 150 miles of additional trails and old 4x4 roads. “You could spend weeks exploring all the riding options,” says local advocate Jeff Renfrow, who serves with the IMBA-affiliated Big Bend Trail Alliance. “The Epic is just a small portion of the riding in the park and it’s all on the east side — there are huge areas that not even the locals have explored by mountain bike. You can’t say that about many places these days.”
Photo by Crystal Allbright.
Location: Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas
Trailhead lat/long: 29.272278, -103.755817
Driving directions: Travel west on Highway 170 from Terlingua, Texas. The trailhead is on the right just before you arrive at the Barton Warnock Environmental Center (State Park Headquarters). Park at the trailhead for the Contrabando Trail System
Length of Route (miles): About 70 miles, with multiple options for shorter or longer rides.
Nearby attractions: Big Bend National Park
Lodging and food: Find eateries and hotel options online
Learn more: Read an online article about the loop. You can also send an e-mail message to bicyclebigbend [AT] gmail [DOT] com for additional info, and watch an online video about the riding.
Other biking options: Download a bike guide for Big Bend State Park (PDF file)
IMBA-affiliated supporters: Big Bend Trails Alliance, Chihuahuan Desert Riders
IMBA-affiliated bike shop/guide service: Desert Sports
Relevant Land Managers: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department