Southeast of El Paso and east of Presidio in the Big Bend region, the Fresno-Sauceda Loop is a 59 mile mountain bike trail system that combines singletrack, doubletrack and creekbeds. This hardcore route has almost 4,000 feet of climbing. The 40% singletrack is either hardpacked or rocky with many dry creek crossings. The route is considered well-marked, but with all the side route, good navigation is required. Many riders make this a multi-day ride and use the water which can be found at the mid-point near Sauceda.
From the trailhead, this lolly-pop style loop general climbs to the halfway point and then generally descends on the way back. Start off by following the Dog Cholla Trail and follow it to the old doubletrack jeep road. This little traveled route alternates between doubletrack and singletrack as it follows the Crystal Trail and the Camino Viejo Trail. The Camino Viejo Trail ends at Contrabando Creek, where the route climbs to the Buenas Suerte mine and the Whitroy mine. Next, follow the dirt road down to Fresno Creek at Old Government Road. Follow the road and signs up Fresno Creek.
This is where the main loop begins. Cross over Fresno Creek and and turn right heading north on Fresno Canyon Road. With several creek crossing, keep an eye out as you follow the road so that you don’t miss any of the sections of road. After six miles, you’ll turn right on a small doubletrack heading to up Pila Montoya. Up at the main road, turn left crossing the high desert. Watch for the intersection of the Papalote Encino Trail. At the main road, turn right to head to Sauceda where you’ll hopefully find water.
From Sauceda, head south on Javelin Road to Madrid Falls Road. This rolling section can be challenging with plenty of rocky and sandy steep sections. Turn on Madrid Falls Road and get ready for a steep hike-a-bike up to a high plateau. At Pila de los Muchachos, the road begins a steep, loose descent back down to Fresno Creek. Watch for some side singletracks that run parallel to the main route. Eventually, you’ll end up a the point on Fresno Creek where you started the loop. Make sure to turn right and head back via Rock Quarry Trail to the trailhead parking.
The 300,000 acre Big Bend Ranch State Park has over 200 miles of doubletrack and singletrack. These routes roll through some of the most remote and rugged desert terrain in the Southwest. Overall, the state park encompasses two mountain ranges containing ancient extinct volcanoes, precipitous canyons, and waterfalls. There are three main trailheads servicing the region: the East Trailhead, the West Trailhead and the Sauceda Ranger Station trailhead.
There are several camping areas within the state park. These primative campgrounds are located at Madera (Monilla) Canyon and at Grassy Banks River Access along FM170. The two group camping areas, Contrabando and Arenosa, have self-composting toilets. The 10 small, designated primitive campgrounds along the gravel park road in the backcountry are accessible to high-clearance vehicles only.
Overall, Fresno-Sauceda Loop is the 51st most popular mountain bike trail of all 59 mountain biking rides in Texas.