Writing on Riding

Writing on Riding

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live. – Mark Twain

Lake Bella Vista Trail

This waterfall awaits you along the Lake Bella Vista Trail. KHS bike not included.

This waterfall awaits you along the Lake Bella Vista Trail. KHS bike not included.

Between the popular Slaughterpen Hollow trails and Blowing Springs lies a relatively unknown trail with no formal name. It provides some flow, one steep switchback climb, and technical challenges to make sure you’re paying attention instead of staring slack-jawed at the bluffs towering over you. What it lacks in miles it makes up for in fun riding either direction.

Making a narrow loop on the mountainside east of Lake Bella Vista, locally it’s known as The Lake Trail. Added to Blowing Springs, it’s like the chocolate coating the peanut butter. Each can be enjoyed alone, but they certainly are better enjoyed as one big treat.

If you like stopping to take in scenery during your ride, there is plenty. The bluffs are home to caves, and during the wet season there’s a small waterfall.

There are man-made features for variety, too: skinnies, a curved trestle with a considerable drop off the end onto a fast descent. All those features are easily avoided, if you prefer to blast past them.

One you cannot avoid, however, is the high bridge that skirts the bluff line. It adds to the mystique of the upper trail, but pay close attention as you finish rolling its planks. There is a tight spot between a tree and the bluff that can grab the handlebar of a distracted rider.

If you keep your momentum, you should be able to clear all the challenges the upper trail offers. Each exciting trip under a bluff finishes with a climb out the other side.

I have included my Strava track of the Lake Bella Vista trail, the southernmost on the map, plus all of Blowing Springs. This will help you get an idea exactly where it is, and how to get between the two. Note: click the title of the ride to open it.

For a more detailed description, read on.

I recommend making a loop like this: enter the trail at the north end and cross the rock garden. When the trail forks, take a left and head up the hill beside the bluff. At the top of the first hill, you can either cruise on along the trail, or go left to add a steeper, more technical finish to the climb.

Finish this section with a few technical elements and, if you’re feeling bold, hit that curved trestle I already mentioned. Continue down and then around the long, stone-surfaced curve and then to the asphalt. Continue on the asphalt until you see a footbridge on the left. Re-enter the trail there and continue roughly the same direction you’ve been riding. There is some up and down next, and a scenic section that takes you through (or around) an old building.

Bluff Bridge Trail sounds like a good name.

Bluff Bridge Trail sounds like a good name.

Follow the trail to the end, down to flat, and turn sharp left to start heading up a short climb and keep your front tire down up the two sharp switchbacks. At the top, enjoy the view into a small cave and catch a breath. Then stay on this trail, not turning left until you have no other choice.

Here is where you will pass under the bluff line more than once, but also must maintain your momentum and time your pedaling to avoid putting a foot down. On one spot there is an obstacle that stops many riders, but choose your line and you can make it.

A standout feature is a bridge built into the side of the bluff. Careful getting your handlebars between the rock and the tree that come right after it.

Ultimately, a tight switchback to the left starts you back down the hill. Just after you cross the footbridge, take a sharp left back down to the asphalt, and go back the way you came. The trail across the road from the hill is very easy and a decent way to add a little distance, but don’t expect anything special.

Now, since you’re in the area, ride on over to Blowing Springs and have a blast there, too. The climb up the hill that leads behind Cooper Elementary should get your heart pumping.

Other resources:

MTBProject page that includes this trail:
http://www.mtbproject.com/trail/5950735/the-slaughter-pen-blowing-springs-tour

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