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BLORA

Trail Map

GPS Tracks: GPX format, KMZ format (these tracks roughly cover the back 2/3 of the Intermediate loop with a couple of Advanced options, but they are not very clean-- they contain some backtracking and general confusion)

Located along the shores of Lake Belton within the Fort Hood military base, the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area is a large park with a swimming beach, waterslide, boat rentals, and well over 10 miles of challenging singletrack. Admission is free for all authorized Fort Hood FMWR users with valid military or civilian ID, and anyone else can use the park for a nominal fee ($3/day to mountain bike, as of this writing.)

The mountain bike course used to be lovingly maintained by the Fort Hood Trail Blazers club, but unfortunately, that club is no longer in existence, and the trails are now primarily kept clear by virtue of riding them. Thus, the Novice loops, which are lesser-used, have become a bit faint, and a couple of the Advanced loops (particularly Devil's Backbone) are overgrown. BLORA is a one-way loop, and all major trail junctions are marked with signage indicating the correct direction of the loop as well as which trail to take for Intermediate (blue), Novice (green), or Advanced (red.) The Advanced loops depart from the Intermediate loop but then rejoin it farther down, so taking all of the Advanced options will give you roughly the same mileage as the Intermediate loop. BRING A COPY OF THE TRAIL MAP, as it is very easy to get turned the wrong way at one of the trail junctions if you don't understand the flow.

Trails that are marked Novice (green) are generally non-technical ranch roads (doubletracks.) The 8.5-mile Intermediate (blue) loop is one of the more difficult intermediate loops in Texas. It consists mostly of dirt, gravel, babyheads, rock gardens, and roots with a good bit of climbing and dropping. Those who have ridden the Barton Creek Greenbelt (main trail) in Austin will find the Intermediate loop of BLORA to be similar in terms of technical skill, but generally BLORA has more elevation change and much better flow. Intermediate-level obstacles abound, and there are a few obstacles that easily deserve an Advanced rating (one climb, the Sparta Mountain Ascent, is arguably Expert-level near the very top.) The Advanced loops are probably closer to Expert-level than Advanced. The climbs and drops on these loops are borderline insane as it is, and then factor in loose rock, and you get the picture. Some of them rival, if not exceed, the more difficult areas of Emma Long City Park in Austin or the more difficult side trails of Upper Barton Creek Canyon.

In general, BLORA is a course that will teach you the benefits of full suspension, disc brakes, and a light bike.

Notes

Main Trailhead: Start riding down the old ranch road at the left of the trailhead kiosk, then look for the Main Trailhead sign about 100 feet in. The Slingshot trail (the beginning of the main loop) cuts left into the woods just before the sign.

B1 Junction: Avoid the temptation to take the Advanced option to the right, as this cuts off all the way to the last fourth of the loop.

Medevac Mountain: There is an unmarked but rideable Advanced (possibly Expert, depending on your point of view) drop to the right of the main trail past Junction G. The drop follows an eroded former jeep road and rejoins the Intermediate loop at the bottom. The hill is very steep and extremely gravelly, so if you decide to brave it, use extreme caution. Disc brakes and a drop seat strongly recommended. Stay left near the bottom, as the right-hand side contains eroded channels several feet deep.

O: As you enter the woods from the flood plain, there is a very eroded root drop which will catch your front tire, despite your best efforts to jump it. Take the left line to avoid it.

P: Devil's Backbone is very overgrown and not really rideable anymore.

Q-R: Note the orange arrows lying by the wayside, indicating that this used to be an Advanced climb but has, for some unknown reason, been incorporated into the Intermediate loop. Anyone who thinks Sparta Mountain Ascent is Intermediate-level is either on crack or named Lance Armstrong.

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Page last modified on March 30, 2010, at 12:14 AM