Book Review: Mountain Biking Texas

Mountain Biking Texas (State Mountain Biking Series)  1st edition

The Background

Mountain Biking Texas (State Mountain Biking Series) 1st edition is a FalconGuide book by Christopher Hess.  As I’ve stated before, FalconGuide is a reputable outdoor publishing company which usually produces helpful, high quality books.  For this book, FalconGuide took a chance on Hess, as this is his first and only book.  Hess is nowhere to be found on the internet and the only information I could find was in the “about the author” section.  According to this section, “Christopher Hess is a copyeditor of educational materials, music writer for the Austin Chronicle and a wildly enthusiastic mountain biker.”

There are very few mountain biking books about Texas, so I picked one at random and hoped for the best.  This book is only average in my opinion.  My intentions for this book were to help me discover new trails in my area and across Texas.  Unfortunately, this book should only be used as a reference point for identifying possible rides because it contains limited and older information.  For detailed information, you have to search for websites that are more specific, again because there are few books on Texas mountain biking. 

The book begins with a quick description of the terrain types in Texas and then discusses the issue of no public lands available to mountain bike.  Next, Hess provides information on how to use his guide and defines his terms (like how he defines aerobic level).  The next section provides some basic mountain biking etiquette, which is beneficial if you’ve never researched or heard etiquette.  Finally, the book is broken up into 6 regions and begins with a regional description.  Each trail description provides useful information such as location, difficulty, a basic map, and a ride description.

BeeGee the dog reading the reviewed book
Mountain Biking Texas: BeeGee approved

The Good

This book is pretty good and does its best to provide information on as many trails as possible.  It also provides full descriptions on 50 trails and quick descriptions on 9 “honorable mention” trails.  In addition, Hess tries to prevent it from being too dry, so the text is as entertaining as a guidebook can be.  This book has provided me with a good list to begin my future mountain biking road trips.  Moreover, I find directions and difficulty levels to be helpful in planning.  However, what I find to be most helpful about this book are the trail notes.  Hess provides on trail directions and points of interest by mileage.  This makes it easy to find the scenery and keep on the trail.    

The Bad

The first and biggest issue is that the book was published in 2002.  This means that a lot of the information is no longer accurate or relevant.  An example of this is Pace Bend Park (Pace Bend Trip Report).  The book states dogs are allowed off leash, but this is no longer true.  Plus, the book is no longer in publication and is only available used. I also prefer ebooks to paper (much lighter that way), but no ebook is available.  Moreover, the book provides no additional sources to find information, largely because the internet wasn’t as helpful yet.  The final issue with the book is regional biases.  The author is from Austin and a large portion of the book is dedicated to Central Texas. 21 out of 59 trails described are in this region (this might be a good thing if you live in Austin).  Furthermore, South Texas was completely ignored and no trail information was provided.           

Final Thoughts

If you have read Mountain Biking Texas or any other Texas guidebook, let me know your thoughts.Also, if you enjoy the blog, please follow us on Facebook.


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