Spider Mountain is a new bike park that uses a former ski lift to take riders, as well as their bikes, to the top of the mountain, and it includes multiple trails to give riders of all skill levels unmatched thrill. Below we will explore everything that the park has to offer, so make sure you have a Kask helmet handy since it is very likely that you’ll want to visit it once you are done reading.
A quick overview
Spider Mountain is a bike park that is located on the banks of Lake Buchanan, which is 60 miles northwest of Austin. It is the first and only bike park in Texas that uses a chairlift where riders can load their bike to head up on the mountain. Once you are at the top, there’s a continuous downhill ride down to the bottom that’s fun and will fill your body with adrenaline.
At first, the idea of constructing a lift-served mountain bike part was met with indecision since even the minds behind the project had their doubts about how this would be met by people. However, when looking at the long lines of mountain bikers that wait to load their bikes onto the lift each day, it is safe to say that the risk was worth it in the end.
While Texas is known for its many mountain bike parks, there is no other that can compete with Spider Mountain for a couple of reasons. It was the first chairlift-served park in the state, and while there are other chairlift-served parks in the US, most other similar facilities start to use the chair lifts for snow skiers in the winter.
That’s not the case with Spider Mountain since the park is lift-served year-round so that mountain bikers can visit any time of the year and have fun on the trails. The concept of Spider Mountain is very simple. Riders can take the chairlift, which leads them up the 350 feet mountain.
Once on top, bikers can choose between nine different trails that range in difficulty from beginner to expert so that everyone can have a memorable yet safe experience. Once the rider arrives at the bottom, he or she can go back on the chairlift and repeat this as many times as he or she likes.
To get access to the park and the chairlift, riders will need to purchase a lift ticket, and this gives them unlimited access to the lift for the entire day. Conversely, people who plan to visit more often can purchase a season or a year pass.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while the park does offer 350 feet in elevation, you shouldn’t go there expecting a steep drop. Compared to other bike parks, Spider Mountain doesn’t have the same elevation, but it has more space to work with.
Since it opened in 2019 with four main trails, the park has managed to expand to nine, and the plans are to add even more trails in the future. There’s a lot of available space that allows for more trails to be carved out. The plan is that by the time the trail build-out is complete, riders could have more than 40 trails to choose from.
As we stated earlier, there’s no need to worry if you are a beginner since the park has something for everyone, and it is built to be beginner-friendly. The trails are all marked by color to make it easier for riders to identify the ones that are best-suited to their skill level.
There are also many less aggressive trails that are perfect for people who ride a low-cost mountain bike. Speaking of that, if you don’t have a bike or all the gear with you, the facility also offers rentals for mountain bikes and gear.
Moreover, if you are looking to improve your mountain-biking skills, the park has instructors available who can help you out. All in all, Spider Mountain bike park offers a little something for everyone, and it allows experienced riders to enjoy thrilling trails while beginners can enjoy safer trails that are just as fun.
A guide for beginners
If you’re considering visiting Spider Mountain bike, reaching the facility is very easy. As mentioned earlier, the park is located on the shores of Lake Buchanan, which is about an hour’s drive away from Austin, Texas. To get to the park, if you’re coming from Interstate 35, you will need to head west on Highway 29.
This should take you to Burnet, Texas, and from there, you will need to turn right on the Ranch Rd. 2341, and you should be able to notice the bike park. However, for most people, getting to the park shouldn’t be a problem since you can also easily chart out a route using your favorite navigation app on your smartphone.
Once you get to the park, you will see the chairlift, and if you’ve never been on one before, there’s no need to worry. Simply approach it, and there will be an operator nearby it. Tell the person that this is the first time using the chairlift, and he or she will help you to attach your bike on the hooks that are located on the back of the chair.
After you have secured the bike to the chair, you can go and sit down on the chair, pull the safety bar down, lift your feet up the ground slightly, and enjoy the smooth ride. As you start to approach the upper lift station, you can pull the safety bar up. When the time comes to disembark, you will need to step off the chair and walk forward.
When moving away from the chair, you will need to distance yourself from the platform quickly and be aware of your surroundings since the chairlift is constantly moving, and if you are not careful, you can get injured.
There’s no need to worry about pulling off the bike since an operator will be there to assist you, and he or she will hand the bike to you. Now that you are on the top of the mountain, it is time to select the right trail that suits the type of bike that you have and your riding skills.
It is very easy to differentiate between trails since at Spider Mountain, all of them are rated using the same rating method as ski slopes. This means that easy trails are marked by green, intermediate trails are marked by blue, and advanced ones are marked by black and double black.
If this is your first time downhill mountain biking, then you should select the Itsy-Bitsy trail, which, as the name suggests, is perfect for newbies or younger riders who are just getting started. Beginners can also learn new techniques and how to ride downhill from one of the instructors on site.
What are the available trails?
The trails that you can experience at Spider Mountain are very diverse not only in terms of difficulty but also in layout, and they provide hours upon hours of fun for riders of all skill levels. For novices and younger riders, the Itsy Bitsy trail is the perfect starting point.
This trail is very forgiving since it features very gentle grades and a trail corridor that is wide enough to allow for plenty of space for the rider to maneuver comfortably and safely.
Once a rider has mastered the Itsy Bitsy trail, he or she can move up to the Venom and the Viper’s Den trails. These are designed for intermediate riders, and they’re a little steeper and narrower. They also feature a small number of jumps and drops that are not very challenging, but that can be very fun.
The Venom trail has tabletops that run along the main highway so that you can show off your skills to the drivers who are passing by. There’s also the new Tarantula trail that is perfect for intermediate riders who are not yet ready to move to advanced tracks but have mastered the Viper’s Den and Venom tracks. The Tarantula trail includes a couple of wallrides and step-ups.
If you’re looking for something more challenging, then the Sticky Icky and the Stinger trails are for you. The Stinger trail is the steepest on Spider Mountain, and it is filled with rocks and narrow corners that require sharp reflexes. It isn’t a long trail, but it is one that requires a lot of skill to master.
The Sticky Icky is a flow/jump trail designed for advanced riders. It features multiple obstacles as well as some hidden side hits to reward returning riders with some extra airtime.
The park opened in early 2019, and as the facility continues to expand, new trails are being developed. The park has plenty of space available, and the people in charge are planning to expand the offerings of the bike park in the coming years.
When should you visit?
While the park is open year-round, if you want to avoid peak times, then you should pick any other time of the year apart from summer. During the summer, you will compete not only with other riders but also with fishing and family getaways since Lake Buchanan is a very popular tourist attraction. The peak time for Mountain Bike Park is between late May and mid-September.
If summer is the only time of the year that you can visit Spider Mountain, then another useful tip is to ride the chair in the morning and use the mid-day to have fun with your family or friends around the water sports arena. You can then go back to the park in the afternoon.
It is recommended to avoid mid-day rides in the summer because this time of day is very busy and very hot. However, these are just recommendations, and you are free to follow the schedule that works best for you.
The Spider Mountain Bike Park also hosts a multitude of events throughout the year. The events available cycle periodically, and some are specific to certain times of the year, so make sure to check the official site of the park to see what events are currently available. With certain events, you can also enjoy sales on tickets and on bike and gear rentals.
Food & drinks
The park is focused exclusively on mountain biking, and as such, the facility doesn’t have any restaurants on-site, but people are free to bring their food and tailgate from their vehicles. On the weekend, there is a food truck.
However, there are restaurants nearby where you can experience authentic Texas BBQ and more. Some of the best food and drink establishments close to the park include Bill’s Burgers and Wings, ‘EL Rancho, the Shack, and more.
The good news is that Spider Mountain supplies water at the base, and drinks are available for purchase at the ticket office. There’s also a small store 5 minutes away from the park where riders can purchase snacks, sodas, and energy drinks.
More than just a bike park
If you plan to stay for the weekend at Spider Mountain, you should be happy to learn that the facility offers affordable cabins for rent at Thunderbird Lodge, and there’s also a primitive camping area on site. The lodging at Spider Mountain offers amenities such as air conditioning, cable, Wi-Fi, access to a public pool, paddle-boarding, and more.
Both the cabins and the primitive camping site offer access to Lake Buchanan, where you can rent jet-skis, boats, and kayaks to explore the entire length of the lake. What’s more, the lake also has tons of gorgeous sites and attractions along the shore, so there will be plenty to do after you are done riding your bike.
Since Texas is known for its numerous bike parks, if you want to spice things up, you can also consider visiting Reveille Peak Ranch. It is close to Spider Mountain, and it has a 15-mile network consisting of a diverse single-track that ranges from super downhill to cross-country and everything in between.