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  • Lisa Parsons

Big Bend Ranch State Park Mt. Biking

Sunset From Our Campsite at West Contrabando

Straight to the Point

Descriptions and stories about a particular ride are great but sometimes you just want the low down right up front so here it is.

This online PDF “Big Bend Ranch Mountain Biking" has great information on Mountain Biking in Big Bend Ranch State Park

West Contrabando Loop West Main trail, left onto Dome Single Track, left onto West Dome trail, left on to Fresno Divide

Mileage: 9.7 miles

Elevation: Less than 1000 feet

Trailforks: Offers up routes and you can create your own

Mountain Bike Project: Often has more detailed information with photos.

West Contrabando Loop and Other Trail Connections

Camping Near By:

  • West Contrabando Campground

  • Grassy Banks (along the Rio Grande)

  • Upper and Lower Madera (along the Rio Grande)

  • Lajitas R.V. Park and Lodges

Bike Shop

Other Activities

Now that we are back in the west we are out and about more so I'm a bit behind on our blog. We have finally found warmer weather, great trails, and new landscapes to explore.

The Sunset was Spectacular!

What do you do when you have two dogs, you want to mt. bike, and it is 90 degrees out during the day? You get up early and are on the trail and ride into the sunrise.

To make it easier we started our ride where we camped. We camped out at the West Contrabando campsites. There are four sites located just down from the West Contrabando trailhead. The location was a beautiful place to spend the evening and watch the sunset over the surrounding ridges and mesas. Just up hill from the campsite is a sunset overlook at a point overlooking the valley where we would be riding the next day.

The ride is a loop that is best done counter clockwise but either way would work. The owner at Desert Sports gave us the information on the ride and suggested riding it counter clockwise. They had great advice and were willing to give us some insights into riding in the desert. Some good advice was have either tubeless tires or use slime tubes, carry lots of water and watch out for rattlesnakes.

From the West Contrabando trailhead there are options to create larger loops by adding outlying trails. You can even connect into the Fresno-Sacedo EPIC ride loop ( that starts and ends in Lajitas.

From the campground we dropped down on a dirt road to the start of the trail. The West Main trail beginning is on fast flat trail along the valley floor. Then it climbs up and down some technical washes of rock on the edges and sand and rock in the wash. Along the way is the contrabando water hole, a spring, that reminded us of the importance of water in this rugged desert environment.

We turned left on to the Dome Singletrack trail. This was a great technical trail that crosses over the valley behind Contrabando Dome to the Fresno Canyon trail. The Fresno trail snakes through different rock. It is red and chunky with lots of nobby terrain. It’s a lot of rock garden through this section. Then there is one short steep climb over a short pass and then it is downhill along a spine that drops back down to the valley where it flattens out again and meets back up with West Main. From there it is just a quick trip back to camp.

The trails are mostly flat and flowing. In between are some technical drops and ascents at various washes. A red rock section is where it gets technical. There are chunky knobs of red rock creating a rough surface to navigate. There were just a couple of short climbs for a total of less than one thousand feet of elevation.

The scenery is beautiful. There are mesas, red colored rock, cactus, and blooming Yucca. In the morning sun the ride is comfortable. As with any ride in the desert the longer you wait to start riding the hotter it will be.

There are so many great trails at Big Bend Ranch State Park that we will be back to spend some serious time exploring and maybe even ride the EPIC route. If I can talk David into doing the ride with me.

Beautiful View From West Contrabando Campsites

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