Monday, December 15, 2014

Trip Report: Monte Bella Trail Park

Jarrett Morgan | | |

Riding the Monte Bella Trails

On December 14th, I finally made it to the mountain bike trails in Brownsville, Texas.  It was nice to ride a new trail, see some new scenery, and gain some new experiences.  If I were given 2 words to describe the Monte Bella Trails, they would be turns and flat. 

Background Information

Location: West Alton Gloor Boulevard, Brownsville, TX 78520
Admission: Free
Elevation: 790 to 950ft
Weather:  Partially cloudy, windy, 78F
Difficulty: Easy

The Monte Bella Trails were opened by the City of Brownsville in 2007.  There is currently 7 ish miles of trails that fit compactly in 100 acres.  This means you see a lot of tight turns and pass by other sections of trail as you flow through the park.  The “trails” are just short segments that are named, but there is no other way to ride.  In addition, there are 2 port-o-potties and a hand washing station on the premises, but permanent restrooms are being built.  Furthermore, there is a large field for sports, like soccer or football.  Finally, the parking lot is large, all gravel, muddy, and full of potholes so be careful.

The entrance sign to the Monte Bella Trails Park
The Monte Bella Parks Entrance


The Outer Loop

The Outer Loop is just a smooth, easy trail that travels around the large field at the park.  This trail is almost as easy as riding on the road.  Plus, it isn’t a required trail to make it over to the more difficult trails.  However, this trail is great for family rides or as a warm up segment.

Ridge Line #1

After a quick ride across a canal/ditch, you arrive at Ridge Line Trail.  Ridge Line is another smooth, easy trail that rides along one of the ridges of the canal.  The segment eventually curves into the woods and you reach a fork in the road.  Turn right (for a longer ride) to Pumba and left to Easy Does It.

The ride across the canal and up to Ridge Line #1
The ride across the canal and up to Ridge Line #1

Pumba Trail

On my ride, Pumba Trail was marked off from a recent mountain bike race.  I went under the red tape and almost immediately found 2-inch deep water and lots of mud.  After gingerly making it past the muddy section, I found branches growing into the trail, logs and sticks all over the track, and overgrown grass along the edges.  It doesn’t seem like people ride this section too often and I would avoid it in the future until it dries up.  However, the trail seems like it could be a fun trail with short climbs and drops.
 
The Fork for Pumba and Easy Does It
The Fork for Pumba and Easy Does It

The long section of muddy trail on Pumba
The long section of muddy trail on Pumba


Easy Does It Trail

Easy Does It is another extremely flat and smooth trail.  I was able to ride this section fairly fast, but there are some very tight turn and switchbacks throughout this section, which kept me on my toes.
 
An extremely tight turn on Easy Does It
An extremely tight turn on Easy Does It


Blair Witch

Just like Pumba, Blair Witch had been taped off for a recent mountain bike race.  This made it a little difficult to start out because the trail starts with a decent downhill.  I started by riding under the tape and down the hill.  Right at the bottom of the hill, I attempted to dodge a small branch at face level and ended up falling.  After getting up and dusting off, I continued on Blair Witch extremely slowly.  The trail was in rough shape with large branches blocking the trail (to the point I wasn’t able to duck under them on my bike) and fallen logs and sticks spread frequently on the trail.  This looks like a good trail when maintained, but I would skip it in the future. 

I can even see the spot I fell in this photo.
The downhill entrance to Blair Witch.  I can even see the spot I fell in this photo.

Frequent low branches made this a slow ride
Low Branches on Blair Witch. Frequent low branches made this a slow ride

3-Acre Loop

The 3-Acre Loop segment was pretty similar to all the other sections of the Monte Bella Trails.  The trail is smooth and fast with a few tight turns and switchbacks thrown in to keep it interesting.
 
full of tight turns and switchbacks
Another tight turn found on 3 Acre Loop

Woop-Dee-Doos

Next, I came to a fork in the trail, to the left was the emergency exit, and to the right was Woop-Dee-Doos.  The emergency exit runs down the middle of the park and is available at multiple points for a quick exit.  Woop-Dee-Doos is a short segment that is almost a straight line and mostly flat.  However, there is this wooden bridge/ up and over to add some much needed excitement.  When I first found the structure, I rode up and inspected it.  The wood is still sturdy, but it’s beginning to look a little dangerous.  I ended riding over it once and it was pretty nerve wracking, but thankfully, I survived.

Be careful on that thing!
The wooden bridge found on Woop-Dee-Doos.  Be careful on that thing!

Cactus Patch

Next up was the Cactus Patch segment, which turned out to be pretty enjoyable.  There was sparse cactus throughout the tide, but nothing like the cactus forest of the Mission Trails .  The track is smooth and flowing, which make for a fast ride.  Plus, there is a downed tree that has been converted into a large mound.  This was a lot of fun to ride over.  

A few cactus patches spread throughout the Cactus Patch Segment
A few cactus patches spread throughout the Cactus Patch Segment

Shingle Tracks/April Fool's/Ridge Line #2

I then came to Shingle Track, which was short, quick, and nothing else worth mentioning.  The only purpose is to connect with April Fool's.  April Fool's is another extremely short ride, but turned out to be the most fun I had on the ride.  It is an extremely fast ride, which you ride down a ditch, up the sides, and over mounds all while riding as fast as you can.  You exit at Ridge Line #2, which takes you parallel to the first segment (Ridge Line #1) and is a smooth, easy ride overlooking the main canal.

A hard left and a quick descent downhill and you are flying through April Fools
A hard left and a quick descent downhill and you are flying through April Fools

Serpentine

The final segment is Serpentine, which takes you back to the park entrance.  This turned out to be another of my favorite sections.  Serpentine is another segment that focuses on tight turns, but many of the turns are built on mounds.  This makes it a little more technical and a faster ride than other sections.  This really increased the excitement for me.

the final segment to finish your ride
Serpentine: the final segment to finish your ride

Final Thoughts

It was nice to finally make it over to Brownsville to ride.  The trails there are nice, but definitely not my favorite.  This should be expected because it’s a beginners course and very easy.  I plan to ride it again every time I make it over to Brownsville.  If you live in the area, make sure you get out there and try it. 

What are your thoughts on the Monte Bella Trails Park?  If you like the blog, go ahead and follow us on Facebook.

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