Finding the Good Trails Around Oxford
We took our trailer to the first camping trip on Memorial Day weekend to John Kyle State Park Sardis, MS. It was an upgrade from the tent camping we had in our last outing at Devils’s Den State Park AR. However, we did bring the tent along for college daughter Lauren who elected to come out and spend an outing with us.
I brought my trusty mountain bike to ride the mythic single track trails my biking friends have eluded to as the Whirlpool. The Whirlpool earning its moniker from the old Whirlpool plant near by. Before I could tackle this famous trail, I had to figure out where it is located. So, we took a visit to Oxford to see the quaint college town to see the shops and a visit to the local bike shop, Oxford Bicycle Company for directions to the single track sites. (Trivia–Oxford, Mississippi was named after the British university city of Oxford in hopes of having the state university located there, which it did successfully attract.) The bike shop also told me about the Clear Creek Bike Trails which I would tackle later.
The next day our recent college grad, Lauren, from Memphis University arrived late in the afternoon to spend the remainder of the Memorial Day weekend with us and we in turn passed along the camping torch by giving her the tent to sleep in. The tent is all yours, Lauren!
Whirlpool Mountain Bike Trail
After her visit I headed to the Whirlpool Trails in Oxford. I parked along with other cars already there on a shoulder. I geared up with helmet, camelback, long fingered cycling gloves, olive green lightweight nylon poplin pants, wool socks and a long sleeve Nike combat pro dri-fit shirt with red sleeves and gray torso. I take precautions with the foliage like poison ivy , ticks and spiders. Did I tell you it was 90 degrees and the local southern humidity was thick? So I wasn’t the most color coordinated mountain biker nor the coolest (heat wise) but as I tell my wife it is totally functional, and I don’t want my attire to match my bike resulting in a Power Ranger look. So look away and no one would care or remember since I am a one-time visitor.
The Whirlpool trailhead starts from what was a rail to trails project and has expanded outside the borders of University of Mississippi campus. The Whirlpool location next to the University provides good cell phone signal to use the GPS mapping software like Strava or mapmyride apps on your phone so you can share your journey.
I noted the other moniker for the Whirlpool trail is Fruit Loops. I found out why. Spill a box of fruit loops on the ground and that is what the section of trail consists of loops upon loops that intersect and exit to other trail loops and I wondered after several miles if I was riding a mobeus strip as well. I felt at home riding the wooded enclave with single track miles ahead with forks to take onto other trails just like in my youth riding the trails of the Northwest. There were man made trail features more to likes of Cirque du Soleil training ground trying to balance and ride your bicycle on a 20 foot horizontal telephone pole and a teeter totter on the end. Pretty cool!
The whirlpool trail traverses a range of visual natural displays from pine needle trails and sandy beach features bordering the lake, small grassy meadows, old rustic abandoned horse shelters to bonsai like bending trees to ride under. The trail features sharp switchback turns and challenging deep gravity drops. Into the woods I broke a spoke leaving me with a bent rim and tire rubbing on the frame. I released the back brake and adjusted the wheel to lessen the drag so I was without a rear brake and stuck with one gear as the alignment was off.
At least it was a high gear, and I was in high spirits so I could spin my way back out to the trail head. I took a slow spinning route and started worrying with salty sweat dripping burning my eyes from the heat and the wearing the long pants, mismatched long sleeve outfit and my camelback near empty that I would be lost and dusk was approaching. I thought I was heading in the right direction then the trail would switchback and reverse back to where I was before. Fruit loop route to its core as each loop can bring you back to where you may have entered. It wouldn’t be my first time getting lost. Just ask my wife. I am directionally challenged despite passing the U.S. Army land navigation course in Germany. But then I had a map and compass which I did not have on me in Oxford.
The trail though borders a utility road so I could duck out and use that as an emergency route. I continued my route and finished in one gear, one brake and ego intact without using the “phone a friend” option from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. I glanced at my strava app and found I rode 8 miles total. There is a lot more fruit loop trails to discover at the Whirpool and practice those Cirque du Soleil trail features. So off to the local bike shop and get the ride fixed to tackle the Whirlpool again.
Have you ever been lost hiking or mountain biking? Did your route end up looking like mine? Check out my ride on Strava. Please let us know your story by commenting below. Never miss a post by following us on social media and subscribing to our weekly newsletter!