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Collin County’s best off-road bicycle trails

Cycling is a fun and healthy activity that all ages can take part in. Whether you enjoy paved or dirt paths, Plano, Frisco and McKinney have it all. Here’s the low down on a few of Collin County’s best trails to hit.

Plano’s Arbor Hills Nature Preserve 

off-road bicycle trails, cycling, plano, frisco, mckinney, collin county

Photo by David Downs

Arbor Hills offers some of the most family-friendly trails; it’s common to see parents and strollers as well as dogs on leashes here. The nature reserve is beautifully wooded, offering shade as well as sun and three distinct ecosystems within the park: Blackland prairie, Riparian forest and Upland forest. For families and leisure bikers, three miles of paved bike trails wind around the entire reserve with some light hills. For the more experienced mountain cyclist, 2.8 miles of dirt trails loop around part of the preserve, though these are closed when the weather is rough. Arbor Hills is popular on the weekends and is coolest in the morning when the sun is lower on the horizon.

To get there, take the Dallas North Tollway and go west on Parker Road. The park will be on your right. When riding at Arbor Hills, be sure that you are going in a clockwise direction. Foot traffic from pedestrians is pretty high and they should be going the opposite direction to prevent a run-in. Watch for wild animals, insects and poison ivy, too. Chiggers are prevalent during the summer months. 

Frisco’s NW Community Park Trail 

NW Community Park Trail in Frisco

With approximately eight miles of trails (and five different loops for various skill levels), this is one of the largest biking areas around. The park is wide open so though it’s a little low on shade, it offers vast views and a smooth ride with a healthy amount of climbing. Frisco Parks and Recreation recently added a new pump track at the same location. It’s about an acre in size and includes a pump track and dirt jump course designed for all skill levels.

The Frisco NW Community Park Trail is located off Teel Parkway, north of Panther Creek Parkway. There is only one entrance to the park, which is east of Teel on Gloryview Road. At dorba.org, read up on the different loops and take note on which direction you should bike (clockwise or counter-clockwise); it varies per trail. Typically, this park is open from sunrise to 10 p.m. 

Read more: Gleneagles Country Club in Plano completes $8.2 million improvement project

McKinney’s Erwin Park Trail 

Erwin Park Trail in McKinney

The most challenging trail of these three is Erwin Park Trail. It is a single-track route of 8.1 miles with tight twists and turns. The drops and climbs are steep and sometimes sudden, making for an exciting ride. The last section of the trail is called the expert section. There is an alternate route to your left crossing a bridge (left – easy; right – hard). Don’t worry about flat tires; Erwin Park has two Dero Bike Repair Stations for minor repairs.

Driving to Erwin Park is a bit tricky and when you’re there you feel miles away from home. The park is north of Highway 380 and Lake Forest Drive. Going north on Lake Forest, turn right onto CR162 (you’ll see a brown sign for Erwin Park) and immediately turn right onto CR164. In less than a mile, turn left onto CR-1006 (do not go straight onto the gravel road). The park entrance is down this road on your right. Enter the park and as soon as the road splits, turn left. Pass the first parking lot and park in the second parking lot. The trailhead is down the road on your right. Erwin Park is a City of McKinney public park and there are lots of tables for camping out, so after your ride, enjoy a picnic lunch. The park is open from 7 a.m.–10 p.m.

The trails at Plano’s Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, Frisco’s NW Community Park and McKinney’s Erwin Park and are regulated by DORBA (Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association). You can find out more about each one at dorba.org.

Introducing Duncan

Duncan Ramsey | by David Downs

Avid cyclist Duncan Ramsey knows everything you could possibly know about street cycling and off-road cycling. Duncan is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knee surgery and sports medicine at the Medical Center of Plano. He’s owned his practice, Duncan C Ramsey, III, MD, since he moved to Plano in 1985.

With all the recent rain in North Texas, Duncan has been hitting the paved streets lately but joined photographer David Downs at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve for a Saturday morning off-road adventure.

“I ride every day” said Duncan, who shared that part of his love for mountain biking includes being a member of President George W. Bush’s team for the Warrior 100K. This takes place in Crawford Texas where approximately 20 servicemen and women wounded in the global war on terror join President Bush for a 100-kilometer mountain bike ride. “The annual three-day event highlights the bravery and sacrifices of warriors and recognizes organizations that support America’s veterans. This is also a time for President Bush to thank those men and women who have dedicated their lives and service for our freedom.”

Duncan says that Arbor Hills is a fun trail to ride for both the novice and experienced rider. He added, “It is very well-maintained. Citizens of Plano are fortunate to have such a beautiful sanctuary at Arbor Hills and also a great trail right in the city.” 

Read more: Moving and grooving! Urban Movement Festival in downtown Plano 

Purchasing a Bike

A quality bike can start around $370 and go up to $15,000. Duncan refers friends and patients to Plano Cycling and Fitness. “They are a family-owned business that has been in Plano since 1972. For both novices and experts, I recommend you go in and talk to someone there and tell them where you plan on riding so that they can evaluate the terrain and help you decide which type of bike you need.” He added, “Always test ride the bike, too.”

Kyle Carlson, Manager at Plano Cycling & Fitness, said that a staff member will set you up for size, properly fit you in a helmet and let you test ride the bike in the parking lot. Good to know: Plano Cycling & Fitness will also service your new bike for the first year for free. When you’re set to go, be sure and ask for the free trail maps, provided by the City of Plano. 

By David Downs

Cycling Safety

With the number of distractions on the road these days, off-road cycling is a great way to get a workout in without worrying about motor vehicles. Here are three tips that we pulled from the Lookout Texans campaign, which was developed last fall by the North Central Texas Council of Governments and is funded by the Texas Department of Transportation.

Be Alert.

Be aware of other cyclists, pedestrians and animals.

Be Seen.

When bicycling at night, wear reflective materials and white or bright colors. A front headlight and a rear reflector or rear red light are required by state law.

Be Smart.

Wear a helmet to reduce the risk of head injury. When it comes to off-road cycling, you can expect to fall!

Did you know?

Becoming a Bicycle-Friendly Community (BFC) is much more difficult than you’d expect. The City of Plano has been working on planning and engineering for bicycle transportation since 1985 at the passing of the first Bicycle Transportation Plan. In the fall 2015, Plano joined the BCF as one of seven Texas cities giving North Texas cycling fans something to cheer about. The other six cities include Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Brownsville, The Woodlands Township and Richardson.

On-Street Cycling

Plano offers 163 miles of shared on-street bicycle routes. It’s important to note that Texas Law states that when there are two or more lanes going in each direction and three cyclists, the cyclists can take up a lane.

Brit Mott
Brit is a Leadership Plano Class 25 graduate and Leadership Frisco Class 10 graduate. She received her Master’s in Journalism from the University of North Texas and her Bachelor’s in Mass Communication from Texas State University. In college, she acted as the President of the Society of Professional Journalists and interned at Texas Monthly.

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