This is one of the best trails in the park although there are a few extremely difficult features that many riders will likely walk. The route is described from the parking lot, but it might be easier in reverse and that it is how it is incorporated into the Just Past Nowhere
The trail starts with a short, steep climb. After 3/4ths of a mile, you'll reach an intersection with the West Peak Overlook Trail #5a
. You'll have another chance to visit the overlook again on the return leg of this trail, but if you've planned a different route it is worth a short detour to the overlook.
Next, the trail descends through a dense section of cedar scrub, crossing the Wilderness Trail
doubletrack three times. Some portions of this trail are particularly narrow through the cedar and there are two or three particularly steep sections to maneuver through. From there, the trail continues through the cedar, roughly paralleling Bandera Creek Road
for a short time. There are two bail options to the road if you've had enough.
Once the trail leaves Bandera Creek Road
, it becomes more exposed to the sun but it is pretty easy riding until you intersect and join the Wilderness Trail
for a short distance around mile four. The next mile until another intersection with the Wilderness Trail
is very difficult. You'll have a short but steep 100-foot climb on loose rocks to the top of a small hill. Then you've got a moderately technical descent down the other side.
The hill is probably easier to conquer in the opposite direction if you want to try your luck the other way. And to make things interesting, the trail is lined with yucca plants and prickly pear cactus, so if you lose your momentum... let's just say some poor yucca plant was harmed in the making of this trail description. Actually it seemed no worse for wear, except for the thorns it left in my leg.
After you cross Wilderness Trail
at mile five, you've got an easier section before you start a 170-foot, 10-12% climb on narrow singletrack, portions of which have a little bit of exposure (to falls), and which is of course also lined with friendly cacti and low hanging cedar scrub. At the top of this climb, you'll intersect the West Peak Overlook Trail #5a
again for your second chance to visit. Continuing on Spring Branch Trail, beware that the most technical feature lies just ahead (see photo). Once you've passed (or failed?) that test, it's an easy roll down to the end of the trail at the main Park Road