HARLINGEN — Some avid bicyclists have taken the initiative to bring a possible mountain bike riding trail to the city’s park system at a cost they say will be practically free.
The proposed 6.2-mile trail would be carved out of the 23.4-acre tract donated to the city 18 months ago by Harlingen resident Maxine Pace Elkins.
Group members paced off a loop-to-loop track through the brush and open areas of bull grass which abuts the northern boundary of Arroyo Park. The potential trail map was presented this week to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department advisory board, which approved sending the idea to the City Commission for its consideration.
The trail, if approved by commissioners, would be similar to popular mountain bike trails such as the Monte Bella Bike Trail in Brownsville and the Mission Hike and Bike Trail.
“What they did was they walked it and marked it for us and mapped it out,” said Javier Mendez, parks and recreation director, who said he’s viewed YouTube videos of mountain bike races staged at the Brownsville and Mission sites.
While Mendez said any trail constructed here would be multi-use, which also includes hikers, runners and walkers, he noted that bike races could be held here, too.
“Just for the avid mountain bikers and then we could have some type of competition,” he added. “What they’re thinking about is maybe creating a series and you would have races in Brownsville, Harlingen and maybe Mission.”
The trail would be “natural,” and require nothing more than mowing or bush-hogging a five-foot-wide swath through the brush and grass. In the middle of that a narrow dirt track will be created for riders and backers of the plan said the biking community would turn out with hatchets and axes to help clear the way.
“The purpose isn’t just for competition, but people will be crowded using it every day,” said David Henry, the owner of Bicycle World, who was advocating for the trail. “We’re going to make it for the wilder guys and the passive people. So if you’re a passive rider you can ride the trail and then get off and there will be another trail that the more wild guys can get on and do their thing.”
Henry said the board would be surprised at the rate of daily use the Brownsville and Mission trails receive.
“Mission and Monte Bella, the place is crowded in the afternoon by a multitude of different types of people,” he said. “Our place here, Harlingen, is the best of everything because we have the Arroyo Park and the adjoining McKelvey Park both hugging that area.
“They don’t have that in Mission or at Monte Bella,” he added. “They’ve got to take a ride out there to get to the location. We’ve got it right in the heart of Harlingen. We’re going to have the best of two worlds.”
Monte Bella Bike Trail, Brownsville, 6.2 miles
Mission Hike and Bike Trail, Mission, 12 miles
What’s a mountain
Two-foot-wide dirt track
Five-foot wide cut through brush