When you think of Dallas-Fort Worth and the Blackland Prairie lands on which the metroplex sits, you might not think of mountain biking. After all, this isn’t Hill Country, and the mountains are hundreds of miles away. But did you know there’s a thriving community of local people dedicated to mountain biking and the opportunities it provides? After all, when you take a mountain bike out for an afternoon, you can discover the open spaces and parks tucked away between the freeways and cities of DFW. You’ll spend time with other riders while gaining a deeper appreciation of the local terrain and beauty of the prairie lands, and it’s one heck of a workout.
Randall Archie, the fourth-generation owner of Archie’s Gardenland nursery in Forth Worth, has been riding mountain bike trails for over ten years, and it all began when his good friend and neighbor convinced him to try it out. When they finally got out on a trail, Archie found himself hooked. Now, he can’t think of anything he’d rather be doing than hitting a trail with his son or his friends. “I call it ‘smile riding,’” he says. “It’s almost like a mini vacation. You can transport yourself away from the daily grind. And there are many moments for good cardio. It’s hard to compare anything to being out on a trail.”
People of all ages and abilities can enjoy mountain biking. It’s a fantastic way to spend time with family, whatever your skill level. Choose your trail, and ride for miles on end. If you’ve got little kids, taking it easy “green” trail is just as much fun—and still a workout. If you’ve got older kids and the right kind of bike, you can take on a “black” trail and enjoy the adrenaline rush that hits as you maneuver through creek beds or down a steep hill.
Randall Archie’s son, who is now 14 and rides with a team, Team Dirt Track, have been riding together for years. “I try to go at least twice a week, and even though he doesn’t ride with me as often anymore—he’s way faster—when we do go, it’s a lot of fun,” says Archie. And they don’t stick to just Fort Worth. They go to places with higher elevations and steeper trails. “We go to Bentonville and Fayetteville once a year, and we go to Angelfire, which is a whole different style of riding. We ride everything from double blacks to good old green trails. It’s all a lot of fun.”
Back home in Fort Worth, Randall is an involved member of the Fort Worth Mountain Biking Association, or FWMBA, as it’s known. And he’s been busy. Along with FWMBA president Michelle Cahne, Archie has been a leading force in creating a new mountain biking trail on an old municipal city golf course. “It’s my passion project,” he says. “My business is in a place where I’m able to help.”
A project seven years in the making, the bike trail, to be known as the North Z Boaz Mountain Bike Trail, broke ground in early 2023. Designed by bike riders, the course will be four miles of straight track on the 43-acre space. “We used local riders to craft and create the trail. Being rider-designed means the trail is a little more flexible and in tune with how we would ride it,” says Archie.
The creation of the North Z Boaz Trail has been a community effort. Funding came through private sponsorships. Local businesses have been huge supporters of the project—Silver Creek Materials has donated 600 yards of soil, and, as a family-owned business, the word on the street is that they can’t wait to ride the trail. “It’s been impressive and refreshing to see all the hard work of the board, the volunteers, and the community. They take such an organized approach to maintaining current trails and looking for open spaces and other new locations that’ll give people more opportunities to ride,” says Archie. Even though the bike trail will officially be open for business later this year, the maintenance and evolution will continue. There are plans to add a Strider course (think kids on balance bikes), and Randall plans on being a trail steward.
This trail will be for everyone. Bike fests will put on Strider races for the tiniest riders. There’s also the opportunity for the trail to be designated as a NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association) course. Local youths will have the chance to try their hand (and legs) at an extra-curricular sport they might not try otherwise. It’s an encouraging step for local riders and the organizations behind them that want to introduce mountain biking to more of the Dallas-Fort Worth community.
If you’re curious about mountain biking, check out FWMBA’s website, or pick a local trail to ride. Our top picks for easy riding (perfect for beginners and families) include Trinity Trails and the Trinity River Tail in Gateway Park. For more of a challenge (you’ll need to have had riding experience), head to the Dam Drop Trail or the Skyline Loop in Marion Sansome Park. There’s a good chance you’ll see Randall Archie enjoying a cold, hoppy IPA after a ride that includes plenty of ‘smile riding’ with his friends and family.