Happy trails: City’s first mountain bike course nearly ready to roll

HARLINGEN — The city’s urban mountain bike track is taking shape and the first phase of the project should be finished soon.

The Parks and Recreation advisory board reacted positively yesterday after hearing the latest update to what eventually will be 6.1 miles of loops on a 23.4-acre site donated to the city in 2016 by Maxine Pace Elkins.

The work will progress in phases, with the first phase a one- to two-mile trail cut through the dense brush and mesquite along the Arroyo Colorado adjacent to Arroyo Park.

“It’s all brush, trees. So what we had to do was go out there and the guys defined the trail we wanted and they’ve done a great job so far clearing everything up,” said Armando Villela, parks superintendent.

“The volunteers go in on the weekend and they’ll stake for us, and whatever cutting they can do, they’ll take care of,” he added. “And whatever they don’t have machines for … we will coordinate that.”

Rough going

The 23-acre site is definitely rough country and a quick tour puts any concerns about intruding into nature to rest.

The bike trail weaves through brush and trees growing in, around and through numerous piles of massive broken concrete, much of it studded with rusty red rebar sticking out like forgotten spears on an ancient battlefield.

Some of the concrete boulders or blocks must weigh at least one to two tons, and it seems doubtful the dumping ground could be cleared without costing the city tens of thousands of dollars, or perhaps even more.

The volunteers are mostly local mountain bikers themselves, and their added muscle and effort is how the city is managing to keep the trail project practically cost-free to taxpayers.

Links to trails

The first phase of several planned loops will be about 1.2 miles and is being cleared of trees and brush and should be officially ready for off-road riders soon.

The track will mesh with the Arroyo Hike and Bike Trail running from McKelvey Park, and across Arroyo Park to C.B. Wood Park.

“Actually they sent me a video, you can find it on YouTube, and they had a run out there this weekend on Saturday,” Villela told the board. “You search for Harlingen Arroyo MTB Trail, mountain bike trail.”

That group ride video can be viewed here.

“That is going to be a big draw for this city,” said Adele Clinton-Solis, chair of the parks and rec board.

View unofficial first trail ride here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8L1RqEUgxEs