400 feet west of the park office on the north side of Hwy. 165
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This trail is now available for use. Construction is ongoing at some of the trailheads and crews continue to work on the trail. Access is currently available from Trailhead 3. The official trail opening is planned for late summer 2011.
This trail is a natural surface, rugged, single-track trail. You will encounter rocks and tree roots. You may encounter occasional obstacles within the trail corridor while still allowing bicycle and hiking clearance. The trail is a cooperative project with the Army Corps of Engineers. While the majority of the trail is on state park land, much of the trail also runs through Army Corps of Engineers lands that are open to hunting. The sections of trail on their lands are closed to the public during gun seasons for deer and turkey. The Red Loop and the west half of the Blue Loop are open year round as weather permits. The trail system is closed following rains. Please check with the park to ensure the trail is open before you arrive. Backpacking and camping are not allowed.
The area the trail system covers is largely disturbed land that was used during the construction of Table Rock Dam on the White River in the late 1950s. Some parts of the trail are built on roads that were used for the construction of the dam, such as the conveyor route that moved rock from the Baird Mountain Quarry to the dam site. There are some scenic areas on the trail including small waterfalls, views of Table Rock and Taneycomo lakes and an abandoned farmstead. The land is rugged with elevations ranging from 710 feet to nearly 1,200 feet above sea level. Natural communities along the trail range from moist bottom forest along Lake Taneycomo to dry dolomite glades on the higher areas. This range of land, from moist to dry and low to high, allows a variety of plant and animal life to exist within the trail area.
River bottom areas contain huge sycamores and cottonwoods. Mid-level trees are mostly oaks and hickories with the higher areas containing shortleaf pines and the glade-dwelling ashe’s juniper, which is primarily found in west Texas and Mexico. Animal diversity is great with birds, such as the great blue heron, found in the White River Valley and desert-adapted species, such as roadrunners, collared lizards and tarantulas, in the glades.
The Red Loop has an elevation change of about 120 feet on the loop. The Red Loop should be ridden clockwise from the trailhead. White connector 1 is near the center of the loop to allow for a shorter trail experience. It is best accessed from the main trailhead. This loop runs through upland forest and creek bottom areas. There is a lot of exposed dolomite rock. The Red Loop is the most technically challenging loop and contains a number of obstacles for the experienced cyclist. These obstacle areas are signed along the main trail. Please do not attempt to ride the obstacles if you are in doubt of your skill level. There is a filtration pond located at the north end of the loop. This pond is designed to contain silt from the dam construction era. The pond is a nice place to observe waterfowl and beavers. On the east side of the pond, white connector 2 runs for .50 mile, where it joins the Blue Loop.
The Blue Loop should be ridden clockwise from the trailhead. White connector 3 is near the center of the loop and indicates the closure point of the Blue Loop during gun hunting seasons. The loop can be accessed from white connectors 2 and 4 or from the Lake Taneycomo parking area down the hill from the dam’s scenic overlook. The Blue Loop is the most diverse loop on the trail system for nature. Portions of this loop run along Lake Taneycomo before climbing to the glades of Baird Hill, with nearly 400 feet of elevation gain.
The Orange Loop is the shortest loop and should be ridden clockwise from the trailhead. Elevation difference is about 110 feet on the loop. This loop meanders to some small waterfalls on Baird Mountain Creek. It is accessed by white connectors 4 and 5 only. White connector 4 comes from the Blue Loop to the north, while white connector 5 lies to the south of the Orange Loop and connects to the Green Loop. White connector 5 will take you through an old farmstead before it merges into the Green Loop. Please take care not to disturb buildings or artifacts in the farmstead area.
The Green Loop should be ridden clockwise from the trailhead. The Green Loop can be accessed from the trailhead at Trophy Run Road or from white connector 5 on the north side of the loop. This loop has the highest elevation point on the trail system at nearly 1,200 feet. It runs through grassland, glade and forest and has great views. Please take care to stay on the trail in this area as loose rock, falling hazards and private property are nearby.