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  1. #1
    gran jefe
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    Bikepacking in Texas?

    Have any of you ever bikepacked in Texas?

    I am trying to figure out where there would be miles of trails/fire roads/FS roads, opportunities to tank up on water, and not too many rednecks/meth-heads/drunk teenagers throwing stuff at me.

    Any ideas?

  2. #2
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    good question, Ill ride my Fargo from Dallas to the surrounding State Parks by various means of roads and such, then can ride some of the trails at the parks...nothing like the bikepacking trips i read about online though

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    Have any of you ever bikepacked in Texas?
    Circumnavigating BigBend Nat'l Park

  4. #4
    gran jefe
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAL 9000 View Post
    Big Bend, too sweet...

  5. #5
    gran jefe
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    Around here, it looks like the Sam Houston National Forest might be a good place to visit.
    National Forests and Grasslands in Texas - Sam Houston Multiple-Use Trails
    Sam Houston National Forest


    Not sure how much of the Lone Star Hiking Trail is closed to bikers, if any.
    National Forests and Grasslands in Texas - Lone Star Hiking Trail
    Backpacker Magazine - Lone Star Hiking Trail, Texas

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    Around here, it looks like the Sam Houston National Forest might be a good place to visit.
    National Forests and Grasslands in Texas - Sam Houston Multiple-Use Trails
    Sam Houston National Forest


    Not sure how much of the Lone Star Hiking Trail is closed to bikers, if any.
    National Forests and Grasslands in Texas - Lone Star Hiking Trail
    Backpacker Magazine - Lone Star Hiking Trail, Texas
    The multi-use trails are pretty torn up by the 4 wheelers and horses. And unfortunately the LST is still off limits to bikes. That would be nice. I've hiked a lot of the LST, Their are lots of sections that would be fun to ride. Not to mention it's over 120 miles long.

  7. #7
    gran jefe
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    By torn up, what do you mean? Bumpy would be okay. Miles of sand, not so much.

    Have you ever hiked on the 4Cs trail? I haven't but wondered if it would be smooth enough to ride on.

    In the panhandle, LBJ has miles and miles of trails, but that would be a loooong way from me.

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    Ride to Bluff Creek, camp. Ride to Rocky Hill, camp. Ride back to Houston. Best I can think of at the moment...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    By torn up, what do you mean? Bumpy would be okay. Miles of sand, not so much.

    Have you ever hiked on the 4Cs trail? I haven't but wondered if it would be smooth enough to ride on.

    In the panhandle, LBJ has miles and miles of trails, but that would be a loooong way from me.
    Kinda like riding through sand. The spinning ATV tires and horses churn the soil up. Its doable but it wouldn't be much fun on a loaded down bike.

    I have hiked a section of the 4C. It looks like it would be a lot of fun on a bike, The area is hilly and very scenic. Not to sure they allow bikes though.

  10. #10
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    If you want to do a mult-iday trip on a bike in East Texas you may have to consider riding the road a bit.

    Davy Crockett NF would be a nice place to ride. Lots of places to camp.

    I found a map of the area. Most of the FS roads are gravel and the FM road would be 2 lane tarmac.
    http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_...rdb5323712.pdf

  11. #11
    gran jefe
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    Quote Originally Posted by BGillespie View Post
    Ride to Bluff Creek, camp. Ride to Rocky Hill, camp. Ride back to Houston. Best I can think of at the moment...
    What, you aren't going to suggest camping at The Anthills?

    Quote Originally Posted by pleepleus View Post
    Kinda like riding through sand. The spinning ATV tires and horses churn the soil up. Its doable but it wouldn't be much fun on a loaded down bike.
    Yuck. Okay, then.

    Quote Originally Posted by pleepleus View Post
    I have hiked a section of the 4C. It looks like it would be a lot of fun on a bike, The area is hilly and very scenic. Not to sure they allow bikes though.
    Have not seen any prohibitions on bikes yet. Might be worth a ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by pleepleus View Post
    If you want to do a mult-iday trip on a bike in East Texas you may have to consider riding the road a bit.

    Davy Crockett NF would be a nice place to ride. Lots of places to camp.

    I found a map of the area. Most of the FS roads are gravel and the FM road would be 2 lane tarmac.
    http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_...rdb5323712.pdf
    Thanks for the link. I need to spend some time looking at that.

  12. #12
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    The 4C is prohibited to bikes.

    Davy Crockett National Forest

    No horses, bikes, or off-road vehicles are permitted on the Four C National Recreation Trail. A portion of the trail traverses the Big Slough Wilderness Area.
    Nearby, however, the Piney Creek Horse Camp has 50 miles of trails and bikes ARE permitted.

    http://www.fs.fed.us/outernet/r8/tex...c_2010_web.pdf

    However, camping in the area of the piney creek trails is restricted to the campgrounds or designated hunter camps during hunting season. And, the trails here are not the most interesting to ride on. I didn't ride them all, but the ones I did ride were flat and boring. When I rode there the sand was moist and packed, but in the drier months, this place would be a nightmare on a bike - but might be a really good place for a fatbike.

    There are some mt bike-able trails in the Angelina NF. I rode some of them awhile back.

    Mountain Biking in the Angelina National Forest | The GPS Geek

    There's a network of trails in this area I would estimate at around 25mi. Not all of them are worth riding. There's some significant HAB stuff here from storm blowdown. Some of the trails are in low, wet places, too. That's mainly the reason I haven't been back. But, on my ride out here, I didn't see another soul, and I saw a pack of coyotes running through the woods. It's pretty quiet. These trails are much more interesting than the piney creek horse trails. They're essentially unmaintained, though, so be prepared for rugged sections.

  13. #13
    gran jefe
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    my first time out with a 60 lb bike/gear, i should probably stick to flat and boring. Piney Creek might be a good place for a first trip. I'm also thinking about Hill Country State Natural Area, but that is a pretty good drive from here. Thank you for those tips, Nate.

  14. #14
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    From the THP Memorial/Eldridge parking lot, its 35 miles to SFA Park. Once there you have a fun trail, bathroom and showers. Camp and ride back the next day.

    Lots of neat hidden places in GBP and the Addicks side to camp also (when its not flooded). Just be sure to bring your bug spray. Theres easily 100 miles of routes out there if you venture away from the normal THP/GBP routes.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    my first time out with a 60 lb bike/gear, i should probably stick to flat and boring. Piney Creek might be a good place for a first trip. I'm also thinking about Hill Country State Natural Area, but that is a pretty good drive from here. Thank you for those tips, Nate.
    Then Piney Creek would probably be a good place. It's SO incredibly sandy out here, though, don't ride here in the middle of the summer. Make sure it's been wet somewhat recently so the sand sticks together and provides a solid riding surface. If nobody's been riding horses here for awhile, recent rains will have smoothed out most of the horse hoofprints. And from what I can tell, most horse riders don't want to haul all the way out here to ride for the afternoon. They'd rather poach the mtb trails in Nac. I have no idea how this place is used during hunting season.

    One word of note - carry a GOOD map (like a USGS Topo quad). The ones linked to in this thread aren't really that good. I carried one with me when I rode and it didn't help. I had plans to follow a particular loop. I got to a road crossing and never found where the trail picked up on the other side. Had to ride the road all the way back to the car. If I had brought my GPS, it might have helped just to know exactly where on the road I was to help focus my search for the trail.

    If you're planning a trip out here sometime, let me know. It's less than an hour from me and I might be able to swing it, depending on how long you'll be out. I'm pretty busy with my thesis these days, but depending on when you go, might be able to carve out some time for an overnight.

  16. #16
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    Tyler state park?
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  17. #17
    gran jefe
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    Quote Originally Posted by BloodyRoots View Post
    Tyler state park?
    Never been there. What's it like? How far away from civilization can you get?

  18. #18
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    I wouldnt call TSP a bikepacking venue, has some great single track though...just a small state park with a small lake and some camping sites

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    Never been there. What's it like? How far away from civilization can you get?
    You're never very far from the main park road. The trail system is a stacked loop layout with the loops farthest from the trailhead being the most difficult. This is not a bikepacking venue, but it is a good car camp and ride venue.

    The trail is mostly fast, smooth singletrack. The deeper 2 loops are more technical and rocky with some short, steep climbs (only 1 or 2, really). It's a fun trail. Depending on the wind, the proximity of the trail to the campground can suck. I've been there at times when the smoke from the campfires was blowing up onto the trail. Not fun when you're pushing yourself hard.

  20. #20
    gran jefe
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    Ah, good to know. One of my main criteria for a backpacking (or bikepacking) place is to be able to get really really far away from the car campers. Car camping and riding would be fun, though.

  21. #21
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    I know this a bike forum but have you ever been canoe camping. It's probably the best way to get away from people and the modern world in this area. Also you don't have to pack as light, you can bring a full sized cooler full of beer and raw meat to grill over the camp fire.

    My favorite float in this area would have to be Village Creek. I did a 3 night trip last spring and man was it a fun, challenging adventure. Pretty much the whole creek is surrounded by the Big Thicket Nature Preserve.

    Any way if your interested I can find the link to the outfitter I used to shuttle us and the boats to the put in and take out. They also have rental canoes.

  22. #22
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    I love canoe camping. I have paddled quite a bit of stuff around here. I have done probably 60mi worth of the Neches. Many stretches of that river are VERY wild. I have been wanting to do the Big Slough Wilderness loop for awhile.

    I have also paddled about 30mi of the Angelina River. Also some very wild stretches of that river.

    I canoe camped on the Angelina/Neches where they converge between Sam Rayburn and BA Steinhagen. Not so wild, but nice campsites and reliable water. Wind can be bad there

  23. #23
    gran jefe
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    Canoe camping does seem like fun, except I think I'd get tired of being wet.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    Canoe camping does seem like fun, except I think I'd get tired of being wet.
    This time of year you need waders but in the summer it's nice to go for a swim in the middle of the day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    I love canoe camping. I have paddled quite a bit of stuff around here. I have done probably 60mi worth of the Neches. Many stretches of that river are VERY wild. I have been wanting to do the Big Slough Wilderness loop for awhile.

    I have also paddled about 30mi of the Angelina River. Also some very wild stretches of that river.

    I canoe camped on the Angelina/Neches where they converge between Sam Rayburn and BA Steinhagen. Not so wild, but nice campsites and reliable water. Wind can be bad there


    I would like to do the Neches below BA Steinhagen next. It's hard to find the time these days though. Maybe this summer.

    I've gone some 40 miles on the Brazos below Marlin, It can be pretty wild down their. I did about 40 miles of Village Creek until it converged into The Neches. I've done shorter trips on the Trinity and San Jac. also. And day trips on The Blanco, San Marcos, Colorado and Sabine.

    The wind can be bad on any Texas river. Damn Coastal wind blowing from the south when your trying to go down river.

    I love Paddling almost as much as riding.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by pleepleus View Post


    I would like to do the Neches below BA Steinhagen next. It's hard to find the time these days though. Maybe this summer.

    I've gone some 40 miles on the Brazos below Marlin, It can be pretty wild down their. I did about 40 miles of Village Creek until it converged into The Neches. I've done shorter trips on the Trinity and San Jac. also. And day trips on The Blanco, San Marcos, Colorado and Sabine.

    The wind can be bad on any Texas river. Damn Coastal wind blowing from the south when your trying to go down river.

    I love Paddling almost as much as riding.
    Below Rayburn, the Neches channel is super wide and it really allows the wind to get in there and cause problems. Just before we got to Steinhagen, the fetch was just so that we were making ZERO progress. We had only a mile or so go to before our takeout, but were absolutely exhausted by then and we had to get towed by some fishermen with a motorboat.

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/20620544" width="600" height="338" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>

    Above Rayburn, the channel is pretty well sheltered by the trees so wind is MUCH less of an issue. BTW, I totally recommend the Neches Wilderness Canoe Race if you can find the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    By torn up, what do you mean? Bumpy would be okay. Miles of sand, not so much.

    Have you ever hiked on the 4Cs trail? I haven't but wondered if it would be smooth enough to ride on.

    In the panhandle, LBJ has miles and miles of trails, but that would be a loooong way from me.
    I did the 4c trail point to point in back a couple of times in the 1980s. It an easy six hours. Start in the Nueche Overlook and eat lunch at Ratcliff. Don't go during hunting season. Don't get off the trail ...even for the small section that is closed to bikes. I was literally shot at for trespassing when I did.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlazedHam View Post
    I did the 4c trail point to point in back a couple of times in the 1980s. It an easy six hours. Start in the Nueche Overlook and eat lunch at Ratcliff. Don't go during hunting season. Don't get off the trail ...even for the small section that is closed to bikes. I was literally shot at for trespassing when I did.
    The whole thing is closed to bikes. Not a small section. a small section crosses into the Wilderness but the WHOLE TRAIL is closed to bikes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    The whole thing is closed to bikes. Not a small section. a small section crosses into the Wilderness but the WHOLE TRAIL is closed to bikes.
    Well THE HOLE THING was NOT closed to bikes in the 1980s which is when I rode it, man.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlazedHam View Post
    Well THE HOLE THING was NOT closed to bikes in the 1980s which is when I rode it, man.
    that trail was discussed earlier in the thread, and linkage to an official site showing said closure was provided. it's bad juju to promote riding on such closed trails. I don't want folks reading about doing it here, and then getting fined for being discovered out there by rangers.

  31. #31
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    The epic Goodwater Loop around Lake Georgetown, north of Austin. Super rocky trail in many areas, but could be a great ride (almost 30 miles of trail). The trail connects through several campgrounds with access to water. Good information here. Would not recommend it in the middle of summer, but there is good shade for the most part.
    Lake Georgetown is managed by the Corps of Engineers and a basic map of the trail is here. Nice place to swim on a warm day.

    Big Bend Ranch State Park is incredible, but it gets extremely hot out there early in the spring and just continues to get more torrid. The prime riding season out there is almost past. Many, many miles of trail, now well marked. However, it is also about a 10 hour drive from Houston. The Womble/Ouchita is much closer, I think, although I haven't been there.

    Definitely some Austin/Georgetown folks could get you oriented to the Goodwater Loop.

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    Bill, I've been searching for a good bikepacking place as well. Read a few reviews about big bend and seems like that is the best place in TX, but all of the pictures I saw looked like flat boring stuff. LMK where you go, if you do go, as I have a few friends that might be interested as well.
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    Aside for Big Bend, there just isn't much singletrack bikepacking. I'd strongly recommend a Ouachita/Womble type loop. That's a great trip with a ton of options. Only 7 or 8 hours from Austin too. Myself and some others are heading out there this week for a trip and will be submitting GPS data and tracks to bikepacking.net for others to use.

  34. #34
    gran jefe
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    Quote Originally Posted by June Bug View Post
    The epic Goodwater Loop around Lake Georgetown, north of Austin. Super rocky trail in many areas, but could be a great ride (almost 30 miles of trail). The trail connects through several campgrounds with access to water. Good information here. Would not recommend it in the middle of summer, but there is good shade for the most part.
    Lake Georgetown is managed by the Corps of Engineers and a basic map of the trail is here. Nice place to swim on a warm day.

    Definitely some Austin/Georgetown folks could get you oriented to the Goodwater Loop.
    I have hiked the Georgetown loop three or four times. A couple of them were one day marathon hikes. It was a loooong way! I'm trying to remember what fraction was ridable by a gomer like me with a loaded bike. Hmm... 50%? Still, it's a good place to think about.

    I have heard great things about Big Bend. I gotta get out there some time.

    At this point, I think I just need to look at some forest service maps, and plot out a long ride on some dirt roads/ fire roads. That would be good enough for me right now. I need to survive a race two weeks from now with my body, equipment, and attitude all in good condition, and then I'll be up for planning a trip.

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    I did the Big Bend thing earlier this year and I can't imagine anything in Texas could compare.

    Looking at google maps. Davy Crocket and Sam Houston Nat't forests are your only other options.

    In Davy Crocket you've got the 21-23 mile trail that is allegedly closed. I think it's only the mile or so on either end that is closed and that is the only place you will ever find anyone.

    In Sam Houston National Forest you have the Lone Star 100 Trail which I have never done.

    I've ridden around a few lakes in Texas --seems to be some sort of primordial urge --but they only one that might make a decent bikepacking trip is Lake Limestone. I've ridden around that one twice and m y route is about 85 miles of mostly dirt road. I just knock it out in one day, but you could extend it to two. Let me know if you want any info

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    Big Bend, too sweet...
    I finally got around to putting down some words regarding the circumnavigation.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlazedHam View Post
    I did the Big Bend thing earlier this year and I can't imagine anything in Texas could compare.

    Looking at google maps. Davy Crocket and Sam Houston Nat't forests are your only other options.

    In Davy Crocket you've got the 21-23 mile trail that is allegedly closed. I think it's only the mile or so on either end that is closed and that is the only place you will ever find anyone.

    In Sam Houston National Forest you have the Lone Star 100 Trail which I have never done.

    I've ridden around a few lakes in Texas --seems to be some sort of primordial urge --but they only one that might make a decent bikepacking trip is Lake Limestone. I've ridden around that one twice and m y route is about 85 miles of mostly dirt road. I just knock it out in one day, but you could extend it to two. Let me know if you want any info

    Unfortunately the Lone Star and 4C trails are definitely closed to bikes. What they do to you if you get caught I don't know. Probably just tell you to get out, the rangers are more concerned with poachers.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlazedHam View Post
    I did the Big Bend thing earlier this year and I can't imagine anything in Texas could compare.

    Looking at google maps. Davy Crocket and Sam Houston Nat't forests are your only other options.

    In Davy Crocket you've got the 21-23 mile trail that is allegedly closed. I think it's only the mile or so on either end that is closed and that is the only place you will ever find anyone.

    In Sam Houston National Forest you have the Lone Star 100 Trail which I have never done.

    I've ridden around a few lakes in Texas --seems to be some sort of primordial urge --but they only one that might make a decent bikepacking trip is Lake Limestone. I've ridden around that one twice and m y route is about 85 miles of mostly dirt road. I just knock it out in one day, but you could extend it to two. Let me know if you want any info
    Apparently I need to repost this since nobody is reading it.

    The 4C is prohibited to bikes.

    Quote:
    No horses, bikes, or off-road vehicles are permitted on the Four C National Recreation Trail. A portion of the trail traverses the Big Slough Wilderness Area.
    Nearby, however, the Piney Creek Horse Camp has 50 miles of trails and bikes ARE permitted.
    It looks like the USFS completely redid their website and the pages I linked to are gone, and the new pages I found that replaced them no longer mention bikes being prohibited on the 4C OR bikes being permitted on the Piney Creek Horse Trails. I doubt the regs changed, FWIW.

    Currently, the mountain biking page only shows the LBJ multiuse trails and a couple options in Sam Houston.

    National Forests and Grasslands in Texas - Bicycling:Mountain Biking

    I think this might warrant a phone call to the Davey Crockett office to clarify.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    Apparently I need to repost this since nobody is reading it.



    It looks like the USFS completely redid their website and the pages I linked to are gone, and the new pages I found that replaced them no longer mention bikes being prohibited on the 4C OR bikes being permitted on the Piney Creek Horse Trails. I doubt the regs changed, FWIW.

    Currently, the mountain biking page only shows the LBJ multiuse trails and a couple options in Sam Houston.

    National Forests and Grasslands in Texas - Bicycling:Mountain Biking

    I think this might warrant a phone call to the Davey Crockett office to clarify.
    I'm sorry that you are not being heard. Try more caps. I was hiking on the Lone Star 100 and did not see a single sign that **** about bikes.

  40. #40
    gran jefe
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    At Double Lake Recreation Area there is a trail marker for the LSHT, and it says that bikes are prohibited, for what that is worth.

  41. #41
    gran jefe
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlazedHam View Post
    I've ridden around a few lakes in Texas --seems to be some sort of primordial urge --but they only one that might make a decent bikepacking trip is Lake Limestone. I've ridden around that one twice and m y route is about 85 miles of mostly dirt road. I just knock it out in one day, but you could extend it to two. Let me know if you want any info
    Hmm, I am looking to ride 100 miles in a day sometime this year, so that might be a good place to do it. Have you been up there since all the oil/gas wells went in? Just wondering if they strung a lot of fences or anything that makes it harder to make your way around.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    Hmm, I am looking to ride 100 miles in a day sometime this year, so that might be a good place to do it. Have you been up there since all the oil/gas wells went in? Just wondering if they strung a lot of fences or anything that makes it harder to make your way around.
    I was at Lake Limestone back in like October or so. I rode around the lake at that time and notice no oil field related impediments. Really, no impediments at all other then not finding a dirt road that shows up on Google maps and getting a little lost ...I was not carrying a GPS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    At Double Lake Recreation Area there is a trail marker for the LSHT, and it says that bikes are prohibited, for what that is worth.
    Bummer. In general, I follow the rules but in this case I would probably take my chances. Thanks for the facts.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlazedHam View Post
    I was at Lake Limestone back in like October or so. I rode around the lake at that time and notice no oil field related impediments. Really, no impediments at all other then not finding a dirt road that shows up on Google maps and getting a little lost ...I was not carrying a GPS.
    Cool, thank you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by June Bug View Post
    The epic Goodwater Loop around Lake Georgetown, north of Austin. Super rocky trail in many areas, but could be a great ride (almost 30 miles of trail). The trail connects through several campgrounds with access to water. Good information here. Would not recommend it in the middle of summer, but there is good shade for the most part.
    Lake Georgetown is managed by the Corps of Engineers and a basic map of the trail is here. Nice place to swim on a warm day.

    Definitely some Austin/Georgetown folks could get you oriented to the Goodwater Loop.
    I've been thinking of putting together a 4 day ride from Austin up to GT, round the lake and back. I still have to do some research on what back roads I can use to get up there but I think that would be a nice ride.

    That trail is tough though. I made the mistake of riding around it last summer and was on the brink of heat stroke so I better get it done soon. Who's interested?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GlazedHam View Post
    I was at Lake Limestone back in like October or so. I rode around the lake at that time and notice no oil field related impediments. Really, no impediments at all other then not finding a dirt road that shows up on Google maps and getting a little lost ...I was not carrying a GPS.
    Can you give me an idea of your route? I looked at google maps and couldn't really cipher it out.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_papa_nuts View Post
    That trail is tough though. I made the mistake of riding around it last summer and was on the brink of heat stroke so I better get it done soon. Who's interested?
    It's getting warm already, but if you decide you are up for it, let me know. I'm imagining carrying my bike up and down all those stairs on the south side of the lake. Misery loves company. At this point we may need to wait 'til fall.

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    Here's the short version 60 miles. You can add more to this to make it more dirt roads and less pave. The pave is not really busy most of the year.

    Bike around Lake Limestone (dirt and road) - Google Maps

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    Cool, that will get me started. I would want to be off the paved roads a lot more than that. Thanks!

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    There two dirt roads that I use to reduce the amount of pave, but they are not shown on Google maps. The absence of one of them cuts out the entire northwest quadrant.

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    Oh, nice. Also, if the road on top of the dam is open, it looks like I could cut across there and cut out a lot of the higher traffic road riding on the south end of the loop. I really really do not like riding around cars, in case you had not noticed. Thanks for the tips.

  52. #52
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    I think Cleburne to Glen Rose would be a good trip. But I would drive to Cleburne. Camp and ride the trail there, its incredible. Then you could pack up the bike and ride to Glen Rose and camp at Dino Valley SP. They have remote camp sites there across the river away from the kiddos and miles and miles of trails to explore. I was there two weeks ago and theres been enough spring rain to keep the river cool and the swimming holes open.

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    Chaparral Rail Trail

    last week a buddy and I rode 65+ miles on this trail from farmersville to Paris and it was 95% offroad but be aware tons of snakes and poison ivy and super thick overgrowth. It was an awesome epic adventure. fyi i highly recommend the double cheeseburger in Lorena and the Jazz Cafe in Paris which has a plethora of beers to choose from.

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    any way to post a route map?

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    that chaparral trail looks pretty cool, have to give it a try sometime

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    chap trail

    trailhead starts in downtown farmersville trail is good for like 40 miles but after Pecan Gap it gets real rough tons of poison ivy but so worth it we camped 1 night. im attaching some pics and map
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Bikepacking in Texas?-mapmtbr.jpg  

    Bikepacking in Texas?-gopr0433mtbr.jpg  

    Bikepacking in Texas?-gopr0420mtbr.jpg  

    Bikepacking in Texas?-gopr0441mtbr.jpg  

    Last edited by djolly7180; 05-30-2012 at 06:55 AM.

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    thanks for the map and photos! looks awesome. now that it is warming up, i am starting to think about fall trips. i like that it goes through quiet places and little towns. did you run into any places where the trail was fenced?
    Last edited by Bill in Houston; 05-29-2012 at 07:04 PM.

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    yes there were many barriers past Pecan Gap, a lot of hunting goes on through this trail (i.e. be careful heard many close gunshots) and at 100 yrd we look like two objects going about as fast as a big hog

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    time to break out the orange and yellow!

    thanks for all the info. i did some research, and you seem to have ridden farther than anyone else who left any record of the trip.

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    I've never heard of this trail, and thanks to this thread, I've spent most of the day learning about it. It sounds like a lot of fun, and it's so close.

    Where did you camp? Are there several places along the way where you can?

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    A coast-guard whistle might be a good thing to carry, and the orange/reflective gear too.
    If you don't want to wear the whistle on a neck lanyard, you can tie it to an office clip and put it on your camelbak or backpack strap.

    https://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbvi...paper-clip.jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by djolly7180 View Post
    yes there were many barriers past Pecan Gap, a lot of hunting goes on through this trail (i.e. be careful heard many close gunshots) and at 100 yrd we look like two objects going about as fast as a big hog

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    Chaparral Trail Bicycle Tourists and Bicyclists | Facebook
    Chaparral-Trail-Bicycle-Tourists-and-Bicyclists

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    Quote Originally Posted by djolly7180 View Post
    trailhead starts in downtown farmersville trail is good for like 40 miles but after Pecan Gap it gets real rough tons of poison ivy but so worth it we camped 1 night. im attaching some pics and map
    That is a crazy ride! Wow! I live in Wylie, near Farmersville and used to live in Commerce. I did census work in Pecan Gap and thought nobody on this earth had even heard of it. Never would I have imagined a bike ride from Farmersville to Paris.

    One thing that would prevent me from doing it, I don't mind snakes, but every report of a poisonous snake bite I have seen has come with a hospital bill of over $100,000.

    Thanks for sharing, I look forward to looking at your links.

    Jamie

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    Quote Originally Posted by CajunJamie View Post
    That is a crazy ride! Wow! I live in Wylie, near Farmersville and used to live in Commerce. I did census work in Pecan Gap and thought nobody on this earth had even heard of it. Never would I have imagined a bike ride from Farmersville to Paris.

    One thing that would prevent me from doing it, I don't mind snakes, but every report of a poisonous snake bite I have seen has come with a hospital bill of over $100,000.

    Thanks for sharing, I look forward to looking at your links.

    Jamie
    Jamie, you said you ride RCP in another thread, and that's a freaking copperhead factory if you didn't know.

    I really want to do this ride. The only thing I am really worried about is the monotony of such a long, straight, flat ride. If it's old rail road bed, then it's going to be a lot straighter and flatter than even the natural terrain.

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    the elevation is tricky you'll be going up hill for like 5 miles and not notice it until you legs start burning and you are in your grannies. all in all it was not monotony what so ever there was always something to look at. we were reluctant that it was straight cause that is what kept you on track in the thick parts where you couldnt even see the trail

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    Quote Originally Posted by djolly7180 View Post
    the elevation is tricky you'll be going up hill for like 5 miles and not notice it until you legs start burning and you are in your grannies. all in all it was not monotony what so ever there was always something to look at. we were reluctant that it was straight cause that is what kept you on track in the thick parts where you couldnt even see the trail
    Thanks! Nice to know.

    Is the only camping spot in the Caddo National Grasslands before Ladonia?

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    we met a guy in Pecan Gap that owned the land behind the cotton gins and he said we could camp there he did mention that the rail to trail subject is kind of touchy among the people out there. after pecan we did find many hog fences we had to hop, and even like 200 hay bails we had to walk across the top of

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    I tried this ride and made it to Pecan Gap, but just out of town there was a sign that said private property and just past it there was a fence across the trail. This was at a dirt road. How did you make it past the fences?
    If ya ain't bleedin'...ya ain't ridin'.

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    as long as nobody holds a gun while they talk to me, it's an adventure. once there is a gun involved, i think that would suck all the fun right out.

    i usually ride alone, but i think i would not like to do this one by myself. maybe this fall we could get something together? Not sure if you think it is worth doing it again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisf_999 View Post
    I tried this ride and made it to Pecan Gap, but just out of town there was a sign that said private property and just past it there was a fence across the trail. This was at a dirt road. How did you make it past the fences?
    From what I've been reading, others took the nearest country roads around the offending properties. As far as I can tell, these fences are crossing property that belongs to the Federal Government and they should not be there. I think I'd agree with the others who have made the trip and find a way around. Not to stereotype East Texas, but I'd really rather make it home without holes than be right.

    This is something that ought to be addressed though. Seems to me that since the Feds already settled with the land owners and paid them money, they should be removing their fences. They may have plans to do so and may have a certain period of time to do it. I know that fence work is very labor intensive and can be costly, so that may be the case. I'm usually one to give people the benefit of the doubt. I think the final court settlement was made just a couple of years ago.

    For some reason, it also seems that there are some who think the trail can still be stopped. I've been reading the Hunt County paper online, and there was a letter to the editor about it just two or three weeks ago. They are trying to stop any funding from being released to do work on it. Honestly, I like the idea of a dirt trail over paved anyway. Whether or not money is released for paving the trail has little to do with the right of way though. The right of way is a done deal and won't be changed.

    That said, I wonder, who the right agency is to call, if indeed these fences are in violation of some law?

  71. #71
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    i would definitely like for it to stay as a gravel road. but, it would be nice for it to be opened up so people could ride it.

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    note to self, byog

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    we got through everything swiftly and respectfully i understand the cost and work of fences. highly recommend some protection there are many coyotes, dogs, and hogs

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    Quote Originally Posted by djolly7180 View Post
    highly recommend some protection there are many coyotes, dogs, and hogs

    East Texas is definitely full of those. Coyotes don't worry me at all (I've never seen one stick around), but hogs and loose, packed up "hog dogs" do.

    Who makes a good cyclist friendly holster?

  75. #75
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    haha, might be a market for a handlebar holster attachment, or a bottle cage mount


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    Quote Originally Posted by brewrider View Post
    Jamie, you said you ride RCP in another thread, and that's a freaking copperhead factory if you didn't know.
    I rounded a curve a week or so ago and there was a girl and guy stopped. The guy passed a copper head and the girl was too afraid to ride by it. I found a long stick and scooted it off the trail.

    That was the one and only snake I have seen so far. I try to not stop and when I ride to keep a close eye out.

  77. #77
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    djolly, i have searched a lot and you are the only person i have found who has gone past ladonia. well done, sir.
    for future searchers, some stuff I found re: the Chaparral trail
    good trip report Thirteen Centuries: Chaparral Rail Trail. It ain't for sissies. that also tells where to camp:
    Q: I'm trying to plan a biking trip from Farmersville to Ladonia along the old railway as you did. Can you tell me if camping is allowed within the hunting area near the Palestine Church on Co Rd 3910? Is the campsite obvious?
    A:That's the campsite I used. I couldn't find anything saying otherwise so I camped there. You might want to call a ranger to confirm that it's open.

    BikeForums thread: Chaparral Trail- Farmersville to Paris

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    ya if i were to do it again i would definatley stop at the sulfur creek bridge and just camp there its a bit past pecan gap. Its about 60 ft off the ground great views and this is where we took a dip and cleaned up , beware though this is also where i saw the largest water moccasin/cotton mouth i have ever seen prolly 7 or 8 footer. you do have to go over the hay bail barriers to get to this point. We asked a guy in Pecan gap where to camp and he just so happen to own the land behind the cotton gin and we camped there. he recommended that we not talk to much about it though cause its a pretty sore subject for the locals

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    There's a couple of DORBA members that have made the trip from White Rock Lake in Dallas (taking roads from WRL to Farmersville) to Paris along the trail. They didn't have to bring camping gear because they did it round trip in one day! That's like 150 miles round trip. On a mountain bike. That's just nuts.

  80. #80
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    Looking at getting a crew together to ride this.
    Chaparral Trail - TX - Farmersville to Paris or bust!

    djolly, thanks for the tip, and snake warning.
    brewrider, if the DORBA site ever comes back to life i'll hit those guys up.

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    Just another tip you will have to do the last 9 miles on road because it gets so thick you cant get thru, you'll see and remember the hay bails and fences start once you pass pecan gap prolly about 15 fences so pack smart cause that damn bike gets heavy

  82. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by djolly7180 View Post
    Just another tip you will have to do the last 9 miles on road because it gets so thick you cant get thru, you'll see and remember the hay bails and fences start once you pass pecan gap prolly about 15 fences so pack smart cause that damn bike gets heavy
    Hey, I thought you stayed on the trail the whole way! Thanks again for all the advice.

    I have been thinking that I need to lift weights some to get ready for hoisting the bike/gear over the fence. But, yeah, that will take a toll, so I will try to go very light.

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    Anyone in the Houston area considered doing the Tour Divide? Sort of the ultimate bikepacking ride.

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    I can squeeze 20 or so miles out of Cypresswood by taking some back trails. Hell if you want to do a test bikepack, ride cwood an set a tent up in my backyard Bring beer.

    Edit: and women
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    Quote Originally Posted by 45crash View Post
    Anyone in the Houston area considered doing the Tour Divide? Sort of the ultimate bikepacking ride.
    I'm in San Antonio aiming for a 2014 attempt. I assume you are talking about the actual race and not just bikepacking the Great Divide Mountain bike trail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brewrider View Post
    There's a couple of DORBA members that have made the trip from White Rock Lake in Dallas (taking roads from WRL to Farmersville) to Paris along the trail. They didn't have to bring camping gear because they did it round trip in one day! That's like 150 miles round trip. On a mountain bike. That's just nuts.
    Brewrider, do you know any way to track these guys down online?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    Brewrider, do you know any way to track these guys down online?
    You can post a question at the temporary DORBA site (the official site is down for a complete rebuild) at www dorba org . You probably can find one of them there.

  88. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by brewrider View Post
    You can post a question at the temporary DORBA site (the official site is down for a complete rebuild) at www dorba org . You probably can find one of them there.
    Super, thanks.

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    Yeah, the actual race. I tried a small portion of it in Co last year and it was alot harder than I thought.

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    No mountains in Houston to practice on.

  91. #91
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    I took a ride on the Chaparral Trail in northeast Texas last weekend.

    I pulled into the Ladonia Lodge and unloaded my bike. The drive up had been good, and I felt ready to have a great ride. I rode around town for a few minutes to make sure everything was mechanically good to go, and then hit the trail at 12:57pm. My previous ride on the Chaparral trail had been on the Farmersville to Celeste segment, and I was pleased to see that the trail near Ladonia was similarly clear and smooth as I headed toward Wolfe City. So far, my hopes of covering the 17 miles to Celeste in 2-2.5 hours seemed easily within reach.

    However, the trail quickly became rougher and more overgrown. For the sake of posterity, I was recording my time and distance and taking a photo at every bridge and road crossing. I was able to duck under or bull through most of the overgrowth, but a couple of times I had to stop and duck paddle through a section. There were a lot of places where I ended up going very slowly and standing on the pedals to keep balance, and I dismounted for every bridge with exposed ties. In spite of the overgrowth, my bike and gear were working well, and I was feeling good about life.

    However, that was about to change. I was expecting flats, so I had my big pump strapped on my rear rack. Unfortunately, this made it a pain to get to my water and food. So I was gradually running behind on water, calories, and electrolytes. My fault completely, and a rookie mistake.

    By the time I covered the ~9 miles to Wolfe City I felt pretty beat, and was starting to get a cramp-twinge in my right quad when I would put my right foot on the ground. In Wolfe City I drank a lot of water. I should have hit the electrolytes hard too, but didn't. I had a little food, too. I saw El Arbol, and wished I had time to eat there, but time was ticking, and it was becoming apparent that my progress was much slower than I would have hoped.

    I set out from Wolfe City for Celeste, doing math over and over in my head to see if I could make it work out such that I was not riding in the dark on the way back. But, no matter how much I tried, it was obvious that I was going to have to ride part of the way home in the dark unless I cut my trip short. I considered it, but decided that shortening the distance was unacceptable. So I kept pedaling my way toward Celeste. Random thought: It must be a lot harder to throw away a TV than I thought, because that is the most popular item found discarded along the trail.

    I finally made it to Celeste around 4:20. Anyone wondering what kind of trail surface to use should definitely park at the Exxon in Celeste, and head northwest. I had no idea that cracks in a path surface could even look like that. If you do decide to walk out that way, let us know, and if you arenít back by dark, we will come looking for you. I got a 7up at the store, sat down to drink it, and pondered how in the world to get back home to the Ladonia Lodge. My GPS has all the little back roads loaded on it, so I used it to put together a path toward Wolfe City that was off the main roads, but still relatively direct. At 4:30, I headed back to the northwest, hoping to make good time. I met a few groups of dogs on the way back, but they were all friendly or understood the boundaries of their yards very well, so nobody got pepper-sprayed. I eventually made it to Wolfe City. A couple of kids were excited to see a person riding a mountain bike, and one of them directed me to the Quick Chek. On the way to the Quick Chek I went by the middle school, timeless and imposing in its classic dark red brick. It appears that Wolfe City must have been quite a bit bigger at some point. Anyway, at Quick Chek I bought some water, mixed myself a stiff electrolyte drink, and finished it off right on the steps of the store. No time to rest, though, because at this point the question was not whether I would be riding in the dark, but how far I would be riding in the dark.

    The wind really picked up out of the north. For a while I wasnít sure if I was getting chills because I had been pedaling for so long, or if it was actually getting colder. Eventually I put on a jacket and felt a lot better. The sugar and electrolytes I pounded at the Quick Chek seemed to be improving my function and attitude. Just north of Wolfe City, I looked for a road that was supposed to cut fairly directly from Hwy 34 over to Ladonia, but couldnít find it. I decided to stay on 34, figuring that if I totally bonked, I was more likely to get help on 34 than out in the sticks somewhere anyway. I donít like riding on roads, but I knew that 34 doesnít really see that much traffic anyway.

    I soldiered on, with the combination of headwinds, hills, and general exhaustion requiring me to use my lowest gears pretty often. I pedaled and pedaled and pedaled and pedaled some more. Eventually around 7:45pm (although it seemed much later) I rolled into Ladonia, where I made myself some dinner and fell into my hammock, where I dreamt of, well, where I dreamt of absolutely nothing as my body and mind recovered from 8 long hours on the bike.

    I was supposed to ride even farther the next day, Saturday, but a combination of factors compelled me to take it easy.
    -My body was thrashed
    -With the trail being as overgrown as it was even in unfenced areas where vehicles had obviously been driving through, I canít imagine what itís like in places that are fenced off.
    -The idea of riding 60 miles AND lifting my bike over several fences was not appealing.
    -As you ride, you are constantly in contact with some kind of vegetation. There was a chance of rain, and even just 5 minutes of rain would wet the vegetation, and you would get soaked to the bone as you rode through.
    -I figured out that I really like to have someone else along on a sufferfest like this.

    Thatís all I have! Iíll do my best to answer any questions you may have.

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    hey Bill pretty crazy trail huh? do you have poison ivy? glad you were able to do some of it good job man.

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    planning a 150 mile Kayakpacking trip from lake gainsville to lake whitney for my next adventure

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    yes, it was pretty wild. i can't believe you guys covered so much.

    i guess i might have poison ivy. i have a spot on my ankle that is still all bumpy and itchy, and one of my legs is still itchy where it was scratched. glad you explained it. i had no idea what was causing it

    the kayakpacking trip sounds crazy. good luck!

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    double post
    Last edited by Bill in Houston; 10-21-2012 at 06:03 PM.

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    Dang, This chapparal trail is something I'm gonna have to go check out once it cools down!

    FWIW/regarding bikepacking in Texas
    I have spent this past year getting in as many overnighters as possible/all in Texas

    I have completed the Goodwater Loop around lake georgetown many times now
    and yes it is VERY challenging/rewarding/high difficulty level

    I also did Big Bend Ranch State Park, That was full on EPIC as described...
    for first timers, don't go when it's too hot, carry LOTS OF WATER!!! bring a water filter!
    I would consider most of the riding out here to be entry level to intermediate and lots
    of fun,

    What I am coming to realize, Is that most of the land in Texas is privately owned
    and there is not a whole lot of epic bikepacking opportunities like there are in
    other states.... I'm floored with how big our state is and how little opportunities there
    are for big bikepacking trips...

    This dillema has lead to my current interest in Alpacka rafts or packrafting/bikerafting.
    There is quite a bit of water out here begging to be explored.

    I'd love to Integrate a raft with a bike option to open up what I see when I look at a map of Texas.
    Mikee Likes It!
    @gordosbicycleclub

  97. #97
    mtbr member
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    Haha no way I grew up on the San Gabriel river there on River rd. in g-town right at the beginning of Goodwater. **** if you went all the way around lake georgetown on Goodwater you'll have no problem with Chap rail trail. Goodwater is an ass beating with all that limestone lol. yup lots of private land on the Chap lots of guys that think its their land so heads up for blockages, fences, and crazy guys with guns probably military grade double drum 200 round ARs (you know like their grandpa had "rolling my eyes"). I've past over parts of Chap recently it quite overgrown may wait until winter and the north sulfur bridge crossing has collapsed. as for pakyaking i highly recommend san marcos river its a beautiful river lots of fishing and its the river used for the "Texas River Safari" race from san marcos to the gulf. they are quite used to teams of racers going by but there are few places to camp we used hammocks so it was pretty quick setups for camping we got kicked of a property once but managed to stealth camp most of the way. was a hell of a good time. some more recommended rides check out Palo duro Canyon, Reveille Peak (close to goodwater), Lake Caddo(for yakkin) I like riding there to with all the pine trees and bald cypress you can literally ride anywhere check out the abandoned ammunitions plant. well have fun

  98. #98
    mtbr member
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    Jun 2010
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    16
    Last reply was 2016. Any new routes in the past few years?

  99. #99
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    Sep 2018
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    78
    I'm interested as well.
    Will swerve for leaves.

Members who have read this thread: 22

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