The Rock Island Depot along the trail at Fort Richardson State Park
I wouldn’t call myself a real cyclist – I don’t wear spandex (Lord help the person seeing me if I did!) and I don’t look for challenging trails and death-defying grades. All I want is a smooth ride, pretty scenery, and relative safety as I travel around on my Sun 3-speed, beach combing bike. Yes, it has a spring-loaded seat, fenders and a basket. I never claimed to be cool.
While I enjoy riding around town on my granny bike, I also like to find quiet trails around DFW. Because I don’t want to do dishes right now, I’ve decided instead to regale my non-existent readers (? Maybe there’s one or two out there…) with a list of the good and not-so-good bike trails I’ve discovered. I’ll add more to the list as time and enthusiasm permit.
Texas State Trail between Weatherford and Mineral Wells (with trail heads in between, including at Lake Mineral Wells State Park). The trail is formed from an old railroad bed, so it’s mostly even. You can ride the trail all the way to the old depot at Mineral Wells, which sits in the shadow of the old Baker Hotel. There are many restaurants and stores along the way, but watch some of the road crossings, because motorists aren’t watching for you! Weatherford is 12 miles from the trail head at the state park; Mineral Wells is 6 miles away.
Fort Richardson State Park in Jacksboro, Texas: Even if there wasn’t a bike trail, this would still be my favorite state park, because the fort and its history are absolutely fantastic – scenic and interesting at the same time! The bike trail goes up and down some very rugged landscape and winds around Lake Jacksboro in a 12 mile loop. Along the way, interpretive signs and old ruins of bridges, mills, and baptizing facilities offer plenty of diversions. Some weirdness prevails, too, like this one house-on-stilts with a makeshift boat dock where 80s heavy metal is always playing at high decibles; and the airport and runway next to the trail that seem desolate and forgotten.
Lake Ray Roberts Greenbelt near Denton, Texas: I’ve been on this trail many times, and while it’s not my favorite – too many trees and not enough points of interest – it’s a great, peaceful ride with level paths and some unexpected wildlife (including cottonmouths). The trail goes all the way from US 380 east of Denton to Lake Ray Roberts State Park, which is about 11 miles all in all. You cannot access the beach at the lake from the trail, but maps do not make that clear. More than once, I’ve had to tell people who were walking along the trail with beach towels in hand that theirs was a futile endeavor.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area at Sulphur, Oklahoma: The trail at this national park is not the best for granny bike riding, but it’ll do. Lots of hills make this one a challenge, and the trail isn’t very long, either. However, it’s well worth the time because it takes you from the interpretive center to the smelly Sulphur springs from which the town gets its name. Another, foot-only trail leads to two bubbling springs that were encased in overly- enthusiastic stone work by the CCC during the 1930s.
Bonham State Park in Bonham, Texas: The park merely surrounds a very small lake and is really nothing to write home about, but the trails make for good mountain biking (rugged, stone-laden, and tight). I prefer a smoother ride where I don’t have to constantly worry about the next obstacle in the way, but to each her own. I did see a lot of insect and arachnid life while I was out there, including large wolf spiders and tarantulas. That’s an endorsement, by the way – I think spiders are cool. The only dangerous spiders in Texas are black widows and brown recluses, so the bigger, hairy ones, while creepy, are fairly harmless, though they may bite!