Pace Bend Park
Pace Bend is a Travis County park located about 30 minutes west of Austin on Lake Travis. The park occupies 1368 acres on a peninsula formed by the confluence of the Pedernales River with the lake. The perimeter of the park has quite a few campgrounds (some with running water) and boat ramps, but most visitors never venture into the interior of the peninsula. Located within is 12-13 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails.
The original network of trails (see GPX track above) is mostly an ad hoc network of old ranch roads, powerline right-of-ways, etc. However, in 2009, the Austin Ridge Riders began expanding the network with 6 miles of IMBA-approved singletrack. The new singletrack is sort of a "greatest hits" of Hill Country mountain biking. It has challenging rock gardens, technical creek drops, lots of off-camber stuff, a few BMX-style humps, some ledge work, and plenty of tree dodging. Some of the creek drops and a long rock garden in the SE loop, as well as some ledge work in the NW loop, are black diamond obstacles which intermediate level riders will find tricky. In general, it will require advanced skill to clean the whole course. Most of it is solid blue (intermediate), however. As with other IMBA-approved trails, whenever Pace Bend supplies a challenging obstacle, it provides plenty of smooth trail for recovery. Thus, beginners will be able to make sufficient progress on the trail, even though they will likely have to walk most of the technical sections. The obstacles, in general, are similar to the more difficult obstacles found along the Barton Creek Greenbelt and its side trails, but their frequency and flow is reminiscent of Reimer's Ranch.
The design and construction of the new trail has been incredibly meticulous. The Ridge Riders have followed the IMBA guidelines for trail placement and slope to help prevent erosion and encourage drainage, and thus these trails tend to dry out much more quickly than others in the area, even though they are largely tree-covered.
From the park entrance, take the first right (Grisham Trail) and follow Grisham Trail 2 miles to the trailhead parking lot, which is on the left-hand side of the road (it is clearly marked with a sign.) Ride up the hill and bear left onto the main loop. The trail network at Pace Bend is somewhat labyrinthine, so riding with a GPS is a good idea, but as of this writing, the trail signage is complete and makes it somewhat easier to navigate than it once was. Each trail is marked with an accurate difficulty rating (green, blue, or black diamond), and the signs also include an orange dot indicating the direction of the main race loop.