Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lost in the Beauty of Reveille Peak Ranch

Spent a few hours yesterday morning mountain biking with a couple of friends at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet, Texas. Reveille seems to be all the buzz lately so we decided to make the hour-long trip to check it out. Here's what we found...

The drive from Austin is easy, hop on 183 to 29 in Liberty Hill and head west to Burnet. From Burnet it's a quick 15 minute drive. Be aware, the turn onto CR 114 from FM2341 is a little tough to see and then your next left into the ranch is almost immediate.  There aren't any signs for the ranch until you are at the driveway. Google Maps directions work well.

Once in the ranch proceed down the dirt road to you come to a large parking area just behind the pavilion. Check in at the small, shed style building that sits between the parking area and the pavilion. You need to sign in, fill out a waiver (print the waiver ahead of time here) and pay a $10 entry fee per rider. I assume the $10.00 is cash only, but i am not positive.

We met Andrea at the check in. Super friendly and very informative. She provided us with a 5 minute overview of the trails as well as some maps and her cell phone number in case we needed assistance on the trails. 

The trails start on the south side of the lake and head south of the lake. We spent a little
Riding up Epic
over 3 hours on the trails and covered about 14 miles. I'm guessing that there is somewhere between 25-30 miles of trails currently cut on the property. 
They are well maintained, but we were surprised at how grown in some of them were. The trails we rode definitely don't get a lot of use. When I say grown in, I am talking about the height of the weeds and grasses, as far as trees or branches go they are wide open. The terrain is varied. Read the trail descriptions ahead of time, if you don't like riding on granite or like to stay away from rocks all-together you are going to want to plot your course carefully. The trail ratings per the map seem to be pretty accurate as well.

The views, especially from the Decision Point and Reveille Peak are stunning. Depending on the trails you are on, there is descent cover from the sun. The furthermost trails to the southwest have the least amount of shade, so they are best done in the cooler hours. The trails along the creek have nice cover and are a good place to be when the sun is beating down.

Our only gripe...the trail markings out on the course are close to non-existent! At most of the major intersections there are signs, but the signs are cut into rusted metal, and while
Epic Trail
they look cool, they are hard to read and hard to spot. But the real problem is that the trails criss-cross each other all over the place. It is at these junctions that it is close to impossible to discern where you are. I consider my self a descent map reader and I think the map we were provided is accurate, and we got lost multiple times. Additionally we had to stop regularly to consult the map and this took some of the fun out of the ride. But the kicker is that as we were on our way in from Decision Point - basically the furthest point from the trail start, we got lost...instead of a 3 or mile mile trek back, we ended up on Reveille Peak Loop which added 2-3 miles of difficult terrain to the ride. 
What is really needed out here is a some colored trail markers and arrows that help the rider navigate the trails - it would make all the difference.

Overall the trails are great, the staff friendly, the facilities top notch. The lake is a nice place to cool off after a ride and then there are showers to get cleaned up before hitting the road. There is camping here that we didn't take advantage of, but this would seem to be a good place to camp and ride for a couple of days since there are enough trails to keep you busy without having to repeat too many of them. Additionally, many of these trails are good for trail running. I give Reveille Peak Ranch an 8 out 10 with all the deductions coming from the poor trail markings.

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