Biking Big Bend Ranch State Park-2014

On December 13 and 14, I toured BBRSP on a mountain bike following the so-called Epic Ride trail. The trail goes from the Warnock ranger station on Hwy 170 near Lajitas north about 30 miles to the ranger station at Saucedo in the middle of the park. The trail consists of single-track, jeep roads, stream beds and some graded roads. 

While covering only a small portion of the park’s interior, the trail affords a sampling of the open spaces, grand vistas, and desolation (and isolation) that characterize the park. The park is huge, the largest state park in Texas at 310,000 acres, and is very remote, attracting few visitors.

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View of The Solitario and Flatirons from Madrid trail

BBRSP Epic Map

The ride took me a long time, about 7-1/4 hours outgoing and 6-3/4 on the return. Wheels-rolling times were about 4-3/4 and 4 hours, respectively. The elevation gain was about 2000 ft from Warnock Center to the highest point of 4400+ ft at Pila Montoya 24 miles away. The outbound portion was somewhat technical, but mostly gradual grades on single track and old jeep roads. The return was much more intense with a lot of everything: steep, technical sections, lots of soft sand in stream beds, roads and fast single track. 

It is possible to do it much faster. In fact a few do the whole thing in a day. But age and common sense caused me to take it easy, hiking the bike when prudent and avoiding serious injury. My objective of staying upright was met, but the ocotillo and other thorny things along the trail gave the legs quite a workover.

I did the ride solo, which few people do. There was no one but me on these trails for two days. I was well-prepared for the ride and took my time. The park ranger at Warnock center (the start) took all my important information and emailed it to the ranger station at the other end (Saucedo), and they were expecting me. The same was done on the return. 

Very little wildlife was to be seen, just one deer and no signs of bear or lion (thankfully), although both are in the park. 

December weather was perfect for riding: mid 60’s, sunny, light breezes. 

There were some areas of abundant water, especially around Madrid house, with recent rains replenishing springs. However, none of the windmill stock tanks except one had any water, so taking enough water to be independent is a good idea. Each day I started out with 5 liters and used 3-1/2. Had the weather been warmer, all of the water would have been used, so I probably would have needed to take another liter.

Click here to see a list of equipment, provisions, etc.

Overnight accommodations are available at Saucedo. There is a bunkhouse with clean bedding, showers, towels, and cooking facilities, all for $35.00 plus park fee. The bunkhouse has two single beds each in several cubicles with separate quarters for men and women. For larger groups, the main ranch house (the Big House) can be rented.

Click here to see more of my photos along the ride, and to learn more about the park, see the TPWD website.

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Sunset from Saucedo



© Tom Lebsack 2017