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Young boys want to get dirty over New Years

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I'm thinking of driving down to TX from Chicago after Christmas for a few days before the kids start school again in January. I have a 9 and 12 year old. Neither have much riding experience.

We're looking for some fairly tame trails to ride out in the desert. I'd like to find something with long trails, but easy terrain, maybe some dunes (but not required).

Some place not too far from a decent hotel would score me some points with the misses.

Any suggestions?

Merry Christmas!
 

DFW_Warrior

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Welcome to the site. Unfortunately with TX being almost 100% private land, the riding possibilities are slimmer than one might think with the darn state being as big as it is.

That being said, the only "desert" riding I personally am aware of is a place called Little Sahara as you go out towards the Midland area, and then the Big Bend region. Little Sahara is a private riding area open to any ATV, bikes, side by sides, and whatnot. Big Bend is all on-road technically so vehicles must be plated, and operators need to have their driver's license.

I'm sorry I couldn't be of any more help.
 

WoodButcher

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It would help to know what part of Texas you're coming to since you can be a 15 hour car ride away from an area and still be in tx
 
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RRMT (Red River Motorcycle Trails) up in north Texas is awesome.

Hidden Falls is great, I believe they rent bikes and ATVs
 
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Thanks for the responses. I'll look at the areas suggested.

We haven't picked an area yet. We're coming down specifically to ride, and to get away from the Chicago cold. But, it looks like it's been pretty cold down there too. Sure hope it warms up before we come down.

Since we're coming in from the East, and we're looking for some warmer weather, I'm thinking south east... Houston or San Antonio, maybe further South. But what's more important is some good riding terrain for the boys.

BTW, I'm riding an '03 KLR 250, so I'm street legal. The boys are obviously not licensed, they're riding little SSR 70 pit bikes.
 
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Thanks for the responses. I'll look at the areas suggested.

We haven't picked an area yet. We're coming down specifically to ride, and to get away from the Chicago cold. But, it looks like it's been pretty cold down there too. Sure hope it warms up before we come down.

Since we're coming in from the East, and we're looking for some warmer weather, I'm thinking south east... Houston or San Antonio, maybe further South. But what's more important is some good riding terrain for the boys.

BTW, I'm riding an '03 KLR 250, so I'm street legal. The boys are obviously not licensed, they're riding little SSR 70 pit bikes.

If you're thinking Houston. Then Sam Houston national forest would be a great ride. You'll need the off-road stickers but they're only $16 each Google it. About 85 miles of trails
 
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I don't know of any parks too far south.
Hidden Falls near Austin is the closest I can think of to SA, though the local guys may chime in. It's in the Hill Country and will be pretty cold.
Come way east and a little south and you can ride Sam Houston National Forest near Huntsville (a little north of Houston). You'll need the OHV stickers, but you can buy those at the ranger's station or local moto shops.
Any further south and I don't think there are any ride areas, and the terrain is really flat, so they probably wouldn't be any good anyway.

Red River up north will be cold, and there's Barnwell Mountain that's pretty far north as well.

Check out the website texasoffroad.net, I believe they have a section with a list of riding areas. not sure how up to date the riding areas list is though.

but compared to Chicago it may feel much warmer.
 
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Big Bend NP. Do the dirt River Road if you're looking for sand. Stay in Lajitas at the resort. Plenty of hiking as well, and the weather is as warm as it gets this time of year in Texas. Also, check the ride reports for lots of other things to do there. It seems to fit all your requirements and since you already live near a large city it'll be nice to see the exact opposite of what you're accustomed to.


Thanks for the responses. I'll look at the areas suggested.

We haven't picked an area yet. We're coming down specifically to ride, and to get away from the Chicago cold. But, it looks like it's been pretty cold down there too. Sure hope it warms up before we come down.

Since we're coming in from the East, and we're looking for some warmer weather, I'm thinking south east... Houston or San Antonio, maybe further South. But what's more important is some good riding terrain for the boys.

BTW, I'm riding an '03 KLR 250, so I'm street legal. The boys are obviously not licensed, they're riding little SSR 70 pit bikes.
 

E.Marquez

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I may have missed it.. but do you have bikes for the kids? or are you looking to rent?

If renting, Hidden falls has some,, not positive on what they have on hand now, as it seems to change most times I go through the gate. And it's been more then a year now.. So you would need to check with them.
 
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I got the boys a pair of SSR 70 pit bikes last year. $600 each. I figured they can beat the crap out of those as they're learning to ride, and if they really like it we can get something bigger and better later.

We may want to rent an ATV for mom at some point. I'll have to check with her. Hidden Falls is definitely on my short list, but it looks like they're only open Thursday thru Sunday. So, I need to figure out exactly when we'll be there, and plan accordingly.

Big Bend looks pretty cool too (opposite side of the state, no?). I've never been there. Is it remote enough to not worry about getting pinched for the boys not being licensed? We would only ride remote dirt roads or trails, certainly no paved roads, and no off-trail stuff.

We've ridden in the Daniel Boone National Forest in KY, down old logging roads and trails. Even ran across some forest service guys. They just waved and went on their way. Their website says that you need to be licensed and plated to drive on the roads in the National Forest. But the four people we saw all weekend, including the forest service guys, didn't seem to be too concerned. I'm wondering if we could get away with that at Big Bend.
 

DFW_Warrior

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I would not have the kids ride around the Big Bend region if I were you. It is remote enough but there are also plenty of anti-motorcycle people down there that are all too happy to call the local law enforcement on you.
 
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Understood. It'd be a big risk letting the kids ride at Big Bend.

I was really familiar with the area we rode in the Daniel Boone forest. Went there every summer as a kid. So, I knew there was nobody back there that would give us a hard time.

I'm starting to think that the best bet would be Sam Houston National Forest, and Hidden Falls.

I'm not completely giving up on Big Bend though. Does anyone know anything about the ATV tours available around the park? Can anyone recommend one of the operators?
 
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I'll chime in for Hidden Falls. When my wife was a bit greener on the dirt she loved riding around on the atv trails and roads. When I was the age of your kids, if you gave me a bike and a field I would have been happy for days, just riding in circles...
That being said, we have a pretty good sized group going from Dec 28th to Jan 1. Maybe 6-10 riders depending on which day. Six for sure the entire time coming from Dallas area. Close to Austin as well.

I've never ridden SHNF but I HATE sand, so there ya go...

I can also recommend Red River, my local ride area, as an almost must do if your coming all the way from Chicago...it's private land so no plates needed. Close to a small town for hotel and some decent german food too.
Check out impending dust storms for some video of RRMT that I put up.

Big Bend would not be my first choice, with kids, not plated either. It's just too remote to risk having to deal with potential injuries... in my opinion.

Crooked Creek is fun, if a bit smaller. A few moto only trails, not too challenging for a new rider. Has a very small "kids" track that would have entertained me for hours when I was younger.
 

budzrex

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Hidden Falls trip will be fun, I look forward to it, enough trails of all types that any skill level can have fun, its more hard pack that real dirt

Zars Ranch south of San Antonio is great, much smaller and different terrain it is private but there are usually plenty of members out there to sponsor you on the property
 
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I'll chime in for Hidden Falls. When my wife was a bit greener on the dirt she loved riding around on the atv trails and roads. When I was the age of your kids, if you gave me a bike and a field I would have been happy for days, just riding in circles...
That being said, we have a pretty good sized group going from Dec 28th to Jan 1. Maybe 6-10 riders depending on which day. Six for sure the entire time coming from Dallas area. Close to Austin as well.

I've never ridden SHNF but I HATE sand, so there ya go...

I can also recommend Red River, my local ride area, as an almost must do if your coming all the way from Chicago...it's private land so no plates needed. Close to a small town for hotel and some decent german food too.
Check out impending dust storms for some video of RRMT that I put up.

Big Bend would not be my first choice, with kids, not plated either. It's just too remote to risk having to deal with potential injuries... in my opinion.

Crooked Creek is fun, if a bit smaller. A few moto only trails, not too challenging for a new rider. Has a very small "kids" track that would have entertained me for hours when I was younger.

Another +1 on Hidden Falls. It's my favorite riding area, helps that it's not far away. Tons of trails and they keep EMT crews around on busy weekends in case someone really has a bad get off.

Lots of families with Dads, Moms, Kids ,etc so it's very comfortable setting.

One caveat of HF is the rocks, rocks and rocks and more rocks. Make sure all the bikes have skid plates. I really like it out there but **** there's a bunch of rocks.

I'll 2nd the Big Bend caution, it's one of my favorite vacation places but, its really, really, REALLY remote. Picture 4 hours minimum from even basic medical care.

It's strikingly beautiful but, forget your cell phone working. BB has more square miles than Rhode Island, almost as big as Delaware, it's the biggest park in the cont. US and also the least visited. I love it there but, you do feel removed from the rest of the world.
 
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Bill's recommendation of RRMT is the most logical, IMHO

i've used that park to introduce many new riders to dirt, over the years

15 miles from motel & great food

there is plenty to keep the kids busy, for a while

the sand bottomed creek that runs up to the main parking area, from the Red River, should be quite enough sand for anyone

it also has some of the more challenging terrain, known to the world of dirt riding, which is why RED BULL held THE LAST MAN STANDING there

http://www.redrivermotorcycletrails.com/park-legacy/red-bull-last-man-standing

you would have to provide ALL your own stuff/gear/equipment, as there is no livery service there

the comments about BIG BEND being remote are quite understated, IMHO

and BIG BEND is at least an extra day's drive, each way, from RRMT

the weather in TEXAS is a WILD CARD, at best at this time of year

keep a close eye on it and be ready to goto PLAN B, at the last minute

whatever you decide to do... WELCOME & SHINY SIDE UP

sw
 
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If you aren't put off by the extremely remote setting, Big Bend State Park is a much better dirt riding environment than the National Park. This is a positively huge area, with awesome trails leading in every direction. Because it is so remote, the place is usually almost totally deserted, save a couple of volunteer workers. So most days a group of riders can pretty well call the whole place their own. Un-plated bikes are no problem, and there are virtually no other rules, or any pesky ranger oversight. But it is way remote...over 20 miles of lonely two track dirt road just to get onto the actual property. There is an original hacienda style ranch house that is available for nightly rental, or you can camp. Be sure to bring every thing you plan to eat or drink, as a trip into town and back will eat up more than half a day. This place is very unique, vast, and scenic. It often feels and even looks like one might be riding on the surface of the moon. Might not be the destination you will choose for this initial riders vacation. But as your kids get bigger and become more capable riders, this is one of the more memorable and unique riding spots in the Country. Unlike the National Park folks, the State Park guys don't have a chip on their shoulder towards motorcyclists. Check it out when you can, you won't soon forget the visit.
 

DFW_Warrior

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If you aren't put off by the extremely remote setting, Big Bend State Park is a much better dirt riding environment than the National Park. This is a positively huge area, with awesome trails leading in every direction. Because it is so remote, the place is usually almost totally deserted, save a couple of volunteer workers. So most days a group of riders can pretty well call the whole place their own. Un-plated bikes are no problem, and there are virtually no other rules, or any pesky ranger oversight. But it is way remote...over 20 miles of lonely two track dirt road just to get onto the actual property. There is an original hacienda style ranch house that is available for nightly rental, or you can camp. Be sure to bring every thing you plan to eat or drink, as a trip into town and back will eat up more than half a day. This place is very unique, vast, and scenic. It often feels and even looks like one might be riding on the surface of the moon. Might not be the destination you will choose for this initial riders vacation. But as your kids get bigger and become more capable riders, this is one of the more memorable and unique riding spots in the Country. Unlike the National Park folks, the State Park guys don't have a chip on their shoulder towards motorcyclists. Check it out when you can, you won't soon forget the visit.

When did the license plate requirement change for BBRSP? As of two years ago when I was there, they were adamant about having every vehicle plated and fully street legal. And every vehicle MUST stay on the roads or risk being kicked out of the park. Not to mention the unintended consequence of risking shutting down the place to all motorcycles.
 
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If you aren't put off by the extremely remote setting, Big Bend State Park is a much better dirt riding environment than the National Park. This is a positively huge area, with awesome trails leading in every direction. Because it is so remote, the place is usually almost totally deserted, save a couple of volunteer workers. So most days a group of riders can pretty well call the whole place their own. Un-plated bikes are no problem, and there are virtually no other rules, or any pesky ranger oversight. But it is way remote...over 20 miles of lonely two track dirt road just to get onto the actual property. There is an original hacienda style ranch house that is available for nightly rental, or you can camp. Be sure to bring every thing you plan to eat or drink, as a trip into town and back will eat up more than half a day. This place is very unique, vast, and scenic. It often feels and even looks like one might be riding on the surface of the moon. Might not be the destination you will choose for this initial riders vacation. But as your kids get bigger and become more capable riders, this is one of the more memorable and unique riding spots in the Country. Unlike the National Park folks, the State Park guys don't have a chip on their shoulder towards motorcyclists. Check it out when you can, you won't soon forget the visit.

I love big bend but I wouldn't recommend it for first timers to Texas. It's the next thing to riding on the moon. Besides the remoteness. The giant day/night temp swings most people aren't ready for. Usually 40-50 degrees day to night temp diff. You're in a high desert and when the sun goes down. It gets cold fast

We were just there in late march and 20s at night and 75 in the day. You could find yourself in serious trouble fast

We stayed at chisos lodge and it's almost a two hour drive to the north entrance You are a long way from any help
 
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