Did you know that you don’t have to live in the mountains to enjoy mountain biking?
Moving to Austin from the mountains of Colorado, I was surprised as anyone to discover an incredible system of mountain biking trails all over Austin and the surrounding Hill Country. You might be surprised when you discover that some of the best riding is right here in your own backyard!
There are miles and miles of mountain bike trails in the Lake Travis area. Some of the best neighborhood riding is located in the master-planned community of Steiner Ranch. There are over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails winding through the hills and canyons of Steiner Ranch.
If you’re not a resident of Steiner Ranch, plan on hooking up with a local to get the guided tour. The trails are private and for residents or guests of residents. Check out the Steiner Ranch Riders Facebook Page or post a comment to get more info on getting together with local riders. You’ll keep good biking karma by following the private access rules. Who knows, you might make a new friend and have a better experience going with someone that knows the trail system.
Most of the riding is intermediate to expert level. You can expect a wide range of terrain including boulders, loose rocks, roots, creek crossings, technical climbs, and fast descents. The trails wind through the entire neighborhood with maps of the trail system provided at each access point. If you’re a strong rider, you could spend several hours connecting all the different trail sections together with just a few short rides on pavement.
If you’re up for a challenge, try linking the Westridge Canyon Trail with the River Heights Overlook and Summer Vista Trail Sections. There are several access points to choose from to start this ride.
One option is to make a figure eight loop by starting at the intersection that comes together at the Flat Top Ranch Road access point. You’ll find some of the best variety of terrain along this route with plenty of challenging rock drops to get down, and boulders to get up and over. Whichever direction you choose to ride, you’ll find that all ways provide some lung buster, technical climbs with a good mix of fast descents and several creek crossings.
If you and your bike survive and you’re looking to add a couple more miles to the ride, jump on the out and back section that combines the Lakewood Hills and Bright Sky Overlook Trails. This is one of the most scenic rides in the Steiner Ranch area.
The single track winds through the canyons high above the waters of Lake Austin. You won’t have to climb any huge hills, but there are some good rocks and turns to keep you on your toes. You’ll come across a few benches to grab a seat, catch your breath, and take in the view of Lake Austin below. If you’re playing hooky from work, you can fire up your smartphone and check in on your email.
Always remember to be safe out there. Bike with your ID, phone, plenty of water, extra tubes, and sunglasses – so you don’t get poked in the eye with a branch. If possible, bike with a buddy. Afterwards, head to Lakeside Pizza & Grill for a cold beer to celebrate your ride! Unless you have to go back to work. Frown.