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Ridenfool

Pedernales Falls State Park Trail Conditions

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Trails were dry, no standing water. The rocks and roots I rode over had good traction. Same with those I walked over, or Stridered over, sitting on the saddle and pushing with one foot down. Soil surfaces on Madrone were tacky, but didn't accumulate on the tire or frame.

Juniper Ridge was a really ugly grunt. Clearly it was build with sustainability in mind, at the expense of flow. That is a trail for the dedicated followers of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. It will likely last forever, but I'd guess that the number of riders that will come back for more will be less than with other trails that offer some breaks between sections of techy stuff. While riding it I thought about how it reminded me of the Madrone, the one at Canyon Lake, and how they seemed similar to me. Only, Juniper Ridge is missing all the flowy bits to break up the torture session. Until today I never really thought of the Canyon Lake Madrone as "flowy" at all. Just needed the right reference point.

I rode fifteen miles of trail today and sincerely believe that half of the time "riding" was spent on that first four and a half miles of Juniper Ridge starting from the parking lot end on to where I bailed at Madrone. Juniper Ridge is a very challenging hiking trail, even more so if you brought a bicycle along with you on the hike. :classic_rolleyes: Charlie, you got me good with this one. ūüĎć The fact that I'm significantly out of practice and out of shape may have played a part in my evaluation.

After Madrone I took the right and returned via Jones Spring and Wolf Mountain trail. Mosquitoes were plentiful and fierce on the singletrack between Jones Spring and the interstate highway that Wolf Mountain becomes on the way back. (the equestrian trail might have been a better choice) The smell of the thought of the beer nestled in the van was wafting in the air and it may have been the sole motivation that got me back. The sun was out, the temps were climbing, and I was WFO (wore the fuck out).

Also made a new friend on Juniper Ridge ... couldn't get the camera out fast enough to snap the shot of the critter laying straight in the trail. It was a colorful beastie.

IMG_20180924_115146596.thumb.jpg.14eaa675dc0ab103e0f3f207e6fd2959.jpg

Edited by Ridenfool
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Anyone know how the trails are?  Thinking of riding there Sunday.
Did you make it out there, and if so how were the trails?

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Made it out there today, was my first time and had a good time. Need to get back out there in the next week or two, weather depending.

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Rode it Thurs and Friday and it was good to go, believe they had less than a quarter inch of rain on Halloween.

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Trails are riding great right now, just wrapped up a nice loop this morning. Madrone Trail west to east is one of the funnest trails in Central Texas. 

 

 

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I've been going to Pedernales about once per week for about 4 months now. I've seen it hot and dry, and I've seen it right after a good soaking rain.

My usual route includes most of the trails on the south and northwest, but I have not ventured across the river to the "5.5 mile loop".
Most of the trails are hard and fast, or gravel covered, so even after a rain there is almost no standing water or mud. Madrone trail on the south side can get "sticky" since a lot of the trail in there is dark dirt, and it tends to stick to your tires and make the rocky areas a little dicey. But for example I was there yesterday and it had been raining for about 3 days before, and even Madrone was a blast.

Before giving my opinions, I'll say that I prefer flowy single-track. Some rocks / roots, enough to make it interesting, but I am not a mountain-goat and I don't like technical, rocky stuff. I've ridden all of the trails NOT on the east side of the river, and I've come up with a favorite ride (I'll list it at the bottom), which has the best of ups and downs, and it nearly 100% ride-able by me. I still dab a couple of times, but just small parts.

There is a ridge between Fitzhugh and the north side of the park, roughly along the power lines. This means that there are hills, and there are some easier and more difficult to get up and down that ridge. So if you're riding the horse trail for example, this is the one that starts from Fitzhugh at Polly's Horse Camp ,then goes west along the power line, then north - this trail is much more fun going north than south. The rocky features in there are 100% ride-able heading north, but absolutely no fun going the other way. It's the difference between going DOWN a rocky ledge versus going UP that rocky ledge - after already making a lung-busting climb ahead of it. Going down = fun. Going up  = not so much.

Of course you pay for the downs but taking the horse trail north, the ups that you encounter later are completely ride-able.

Coming back from the north to the south, excluding the horse trail, there are a few ways back. Windmill trail is a steep climb, but it's a gravel jeep trail and ride-able. Wheatley trail is also rideable, but it's got a lot of loose rock, and it's easy to lose your line or slip the back tire and have to dab. And it is a long, long climb. I have only made that climb once without a dab. But then I am old and heavy. Wheatley is my preferred way back these days, even though it is difficult - it fits well with the rest of my favorite loop (below).

On the east side, you can go say up the Madrone trail, then along the fence line, then down to Jones Spring. That's a fun down-hill, but I don't think I've tried coming back up. It's like wheatley - loose, rocky, and steep in some places. There is also a cut-off, that takes you to Jones, but it takes a more meandering route. This trail seems to be not well used. The few times I've gone that way I have lost the trail a couple of times and had to poke around to get back on it. If you happen to be coming SOUTH from Jones Spring, this winding route would be easier than the fence line.

Juniper Ridge - I won't say much about this. I have ridden the entire trail, and I won't do it again. Every time I've gone in there I've been mad at myself for trying it. It's very ledgy, technical, slow, sometimes the trees encroach enough that you have to get off the bike. I don't like it. No more on that. Probably a good hiking trail. I met a rider out there one day that told me Juniper Ridge is his favorite. But he was a short stocky dude. Low center of gravity. Opposite of me.

Farther north and west, it's a lot of fun. Not too much technical, just a good mix of flowy single track and rocky stuff, and a few creek crossings (all dry).

So here is my favorite route. I ride this every time I go. Sometimes I modify, but not by much.

Start: gravel lot on Fitzhugh about 1/2 mile east of the main park entrance.
2. enter Madrone trail at the parking lot, turning RIGHT on Madrone.
3. 0.8miles, cross Fitzhugh, immediately turn RIGHT onto the trail that parallels the road along a fence line.
4. trail dead-ends into a jeep access trail, turn LEFT. 
5. continue through Polly's Horse Camp. Trail is still a jeep trail.
6. Look for the horse trail sign and turn LEFT. Single track.
7. Follow the horse trail, this is fun. Going down the back side of that ridge, lots of single track and rocky stuff. Mostly down for a mile or so.
8. Arrive at the parking area just below the park office. This is about the 5 mile point.
9. After maybe a water break, jump back on the horse trail. It's on the other side of the parking area, parallels the road that leads in to the parking lot. 
10. Cross the road in about 0.2 miles, continue on into the north side of the park. There is a lot of cleared land here, not very pretty, but the trail is great. 
11. You'll come to a fork in the trail. In this direction you may not notice it, but you'll stay to the right. Later in the ride this is where I rejoin the trail in the other direction.
12. This trail stays single track, a bit uphill but not bad at all. Turn left when you get to the gravel road. If you go straight you'll end up at the horse camp on the north side.
13. On the gravel road, take the fork to the right. You will eventually dead end at the fence line on the west side of the park. Turn Left (south) at the fence line.
14. Fence line is basically flat, until near the next turn, where it has a gradual uphill. At about 0.7 miles, at the top of this rise, there is a sign for the horse trail to enter the woods on the left. Take that turn.
15. This trail is mostly down, and there is an interesting bit where you're riding on a limestone shelf that is a little off-camber. Keep your eyes peeled - you need to turn when you get back to the fork in the trail from #11 above. It's easy to miss so maybe you'll get some extra miles in ūüôā
16. Now you just back-track to the parking area below the park office. When you get there, ride through the parking lot, next to the trail map, and enter the trail there. Your mileage at this point will be about 10 miles.
17. turn left onto the Wolf Mountain Trail. This is going to be gravel jeep trail for several miles, I hope you don't mind. It's pretty fun because there are some fast downhills. At about 2 miles or so, there is a rest-room on the right. I turn there, make the 0.25mile climb to the top, and do a loop around wolf mountain. The loop is about 0.9 miles around.
18a. if you want to head back, take the road on the other side of wolf mountain. That is Windmill road. It will climb up, then you'll go back through Polly's horse camp, and come back to the parking area on Fitzhugh.
18b. for a longer ride, after you do the loop around the top of Wolf Mountain, come back down the same way you went up (fun downhill), and turn RIGHT at the bathroom at the bottom, to continue along wolf mountain trail.
19. The jeep trail continues, pretty fun, then it loops around to the right and you'll pass Jones Spring, then come to a clearing with paths to the left and right. Continue straight here.
20. this trail has one really nasty ledge that you'll need to walk up and over. Otherwise a nice trail with some roots and real brown dirt.
21. Come to a clearing, a rocky creekbed. To the right takes you back toward Wolf Mountain. But go STRAIGHT across here, there is a poorly marked trail, this is Wheatley trail.
22. Take a deep breath. Lots of them. Granny gear. Lots of loose rocks and up up up. I won't lie, this is no fun. It's about 0.5 miles total (but feels like 5). When you think you're at the top you're not. Just keep going until you come out of the woods at the power line.
23. Turn left at the power line clearing. You'll go down, then up, then a little flat, then another down. All still on the power line. All ride-able.
24. Going down, there will be a barbed wire fence on your right. Look for some sticks and rocks that indicate where you can cross the fence line. Don't cross anywhere else, because there is still barbed wire laying on the ground. At the sticks and rocks it's safe and easy.
25. After you cross that fence line, fly down that hill but be ready to hit the breaks. At the bottom you'll come to the Madrone trail crossing. It's hard to see, so yeah you'll probably slam on the brakes and skid into it. Turn RIGHT on Madrone trail.
26. On Madrone, you'll immediately cross Fitzhugh. Stay on Madrone (this is the East side of Madron) until you get back to the parking area where you started. This end of Madrone is about 2.5 miles (from Fitzhugh crossing to the parking lot). THis is maybe the most pristine single track in the whole park. A lot of real brown dirt, smooth and flowy, completely covered by canopy. It can get a little sticky when it's rained so be careful because you'll slip and slide on the rocks.

Wow that was a lot more than I thought I would write. Sorry if it's too much. But I love this ride. It is 18.5 miles total, and takes this fat old man about 2 hours to do. If anyone rides this route I would love to hear how you like it, or if you have any suggestions for a better way.
 

I don't see a way to insert an image or I would show the route. If that's possible someone please let me know how.

Happy Riding -

Dan

 

Madrone Loop Annotated.jpg

Edited by Dan Meeks
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Hey AG!!

How did you like my dissertation on Pedernales? Since I discovered that place, it's the only ride for me! Occasionally Slaughter, when I don't have much time. Do you ever get out there?

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I don't think I've been to Pedernales since last spring. Before that, I was probably there once every couple of months. But when I go, I like to ride Pedernales and FCCR together. And once the FCCR situation got precarious last year, I just decided to go other places. I'll have to see how that situation has evolved, because I'm due to go back. 

 

21 hours ago, Dan Meeks said:

My usual route includes most of the trails on the south and northwest, but I have not ventured across the river to the "5.5 mile loop".

I did the loop on the other side of the river once. It isn't terribly intersting. As I recall, once you get up there is only a largely flat double track/jeep road that goes around the top. There was a creepy cemetery of some sort, and a nice view spot on the backside, but other than that, it isn't worthwhile IMO

 

21 hours ago, Dan Meeks said:

Juniper Ridge - I won't say much about this. I have ridden the entire trail, and I won't do it again. Every time I've gone in there I've been mad at myself for trying it. It's very ledgy, technical, slow, sometimes the trees encroach enough that you have to get off the bike. I don't like it. No more on that. Probably a good hiking trail. I met a rider out there one day that told me Juniper Ridge is his favorite. But he was a short stocky dude. Low center of gravity. Opposite of me.

5'11" / 195lb. Juniper Ridge is by far my favorite trail there. 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Dan Meeks said:

Hey AG!!

How did you like my dissertation on Pedernales? Since I discovered that place, it's the only ride for me! Occasionally Slaughter, when I don't have much time. Do you ever get out there?

Good description, but I actually really enjoy the chunk. Today we went down to Pace Bend and I really love all the rock gardens there, and the tricky up and down ledges.  They have some new enduro lines with some being pretty flowy so you should go check that out.

I tried once going to Pedernales with my son, but they were overflowing (it was on a holiday) so we rode FCCR.  We had the ranch to ourselves.   I don't head down south fairly often but I should.  I love all those trails.  Slaughter creek is an easy day and it's something my wife enjoyed so we'll probably head back down south to ride SATN and ride to SCP.

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On 1/20/2020 at 7:56 PM, AntonioGG said:

Today we went down to Pace Bend and I really love all the rock gardens there, and the tricky up and down ledges.  They have some new enduro lines with some being pretty flowy so you should go check that out.

New lines at Pace Bend?

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10 minutes ago, bestbike85 said:

Though the burns make you feel as if you’re riding post apocalypse. 

They had recently done burns once when I was riding out at San Angelo... The civil engineering and political failures of the dead lakes and abandoned structures combined with the burns gave off a papable post-apocolypic vibe. 

Oddly Madrone Trail (not the Pedernales one, the one not far from San Marcos) has a similar vibe. Who thought they'd need 10 thousand picnic tables there?

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Hey that abandoned boat launch at Madrone was pretty useful for mojofest!¬† Kind of a tease to have a water fountain in the woods with no water. ūüėȬ†

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