My goal on a recent Saturday was the new trails in Bridgeport, Texas, a small town a little more than an hour west of my house.
I had met trail builder Paul Johns (Shadow) on a local Trifecta ride, where a group rode a trail, drove to another, and then repeated, until we completed three trails in north Texas. Running his own business called Shadow Trail Designs, Paul has built several trail systems I have ridden in the DFW area, and had a hand in several others.
In the NTX MTB Facebook group, I posted an invitation for others to join me. I had completely forgot that there was a Binkley Park trail work day at the same time I wanted tires on dirt at Bridgeport. Unwilling to sacrifice my only chance to ride on dirt that week, I forsook my fellow NTX MTB’ers and went solo.
The parking area sits across a gravel road from an oil derrick surrounded by chain-link fence. A hardtail mountain bike was chained outside the fence, and two portable toilets stood nearby. That was all I saw, and all I heard was a strong breeze.
I started directly from the lot, on Butterfield Trail. It isn’t a bad trail, but the route I took turned out to be a bit confusing. I found out later that my favored place to start is just down the gravel road and to the right, where you can catch Coal Miner Trail, a fun piece of intermediate-rated singletrack that leads to the T149 (purple) and then The Rock (red). Ridden that direction, the latter two are a lot of fun. The rider can pick from several possible lines through the rocks–rarely with the option to completely avoid them. I hit them the opposite direction accidentally the first time around, and I did not clean The Rock going that way. I’m pretty sure I could with a second crack at it, but I don’t want to encourage wrong-way riding.
I could tell that with the leaves on, this would be a beautiful ride through the woods. Very little of the system passes through meadow. Oil Rig Loop is sparsely populated with small trees, but its designed and built perfectly for hammering the pedals and weaving its nearly one-mile loop around its namesake.
The longest trail–Butterfield–is rated Easy. While I would not argue its rating, I would remind the reader that difficulty ratings are relative to speed. There’s fun to be had on all loops at Bridgeport, regardless of difficulty level. Just make sure to always look ahead for other riders or hikers. With leaves, like on any wooded trail there will be blind corners.
The trail system’s popularity should grow, but on my visit I rode 15.5 miles without seeing another person. Sometimes that’s exactly the kind of ride I need.
Quickest Route from Parking Lot to Technical Trails
Park in the gravel lot, then ride out the back of the lot along the gravel road and see the trail entrance to Coal Miner (royal blue). I will only note intersections, not “keep going for (insert distance here).”
Coal Miner (royal blue) – right onto Rock Island Railroad (briefly, baby blue) to T149 (purple) – right onto The Rock (red).
After finishing The Rock, follow the signs indicating which direction bicycles should ride, and explore. I recommend that after a first crack at T149 and The Rock, you repeat immediately. They’re not very long and a lot of fun.
Brief Impression of Each Trail
Colonel Hunt (White) – Similar to Butterfield, but featuring a few more dips and rises.
Oil Rig (Yellow) – I had a great time hammering the pedals for a fast ride on level trail, with enough curves for interest without the sharp corners that kill speed.
Coal Miner ( Royal Blue) – Featuring more variety than the above trails, Coal Miner is a perfect feeder and warm-up to the technical areas and hills.
T149 (Purple) – Provides a good mix of climbing, descent, and a few rocks here and there. Watch (carefully) for views of the small lake below.
The Rock (Red) – Aptly named, this trail forces the rider to choose a line through or (sometimes) around rocks. Despite its wide expanse in some places, there’s still plenty of rock to keep your attention. Higher on the trail, see the lake below (but don’t take your eyes off the trail).
Rock Island Railroad (Baby Blue) – Another feeder trail, this one is a good mix that throws in a few technical sections here and there, but is not intimidating.
Shadow has built a solid, entertaining trail system at Bridgeport, with signage that looks good and is easy to follow. I was going to suggest a route, but I’m not sure now which trails I rode in the wrong direction. Just get out there and you’re bound to have a smile on your face.
Address to put in your phone or car GPS:
278 George Mitchell Parkway
Bridgeport, TX 76426
When you turn onto George Mitchell Parkway, you will soon cross railroad tracks, and then cross Colonel Hunt road and pass T-Top Manufacturing. Continue onto the gravel road and turn right. Follow the signs that say “Hike and Bike.” See the parking I used on the right side of the map. For the other parking area, near The Rock (red), you can turn right onto Colonel Hunt Road and drive around to the North OHV Park.