In the last bicycling post from Oxford, I detailed my trip to the Whirlpool Trails near Ole Miss University. (see Whirlpool Trails post) The last day of Memorial Day weekend, I had somewhat of a trusty mountain bike with broken spoke, misaligned rim and tire and a working front brake. Hmmm trusty, not so much, but the trail beckoned me. For mountain bikers, seeking new trails and what they offer, is the great appeal.
Seeking New Trails
Before deciding to tackle Clear Creek trail, Carmen and I had first taken a drive through the Clear Creek campground. The Old Sardis country blacktop road is bicycle friendly with sections of the road reserved for bicyclists. Left of the road an old Schwinn bicycle painted white was erected to compliment the bicycle friendly route. The display would qualify as a roadside America novelty sight to see.
Approaching the Clear Creek Campground was a pot holed section of road difficult to avoid giving us a jolt. We toured the campground which was filled with tents, pop ups and mid sized RVs. Families were grilling, young kids running around in their bathing outfits, shirtless dads in cargo shorts smoking a cigarette while grilling in the smoky haze of wafting burning charcoal briquettes.
We found the Clear Creek trail welcome sign and a bike rack was present. The map showed a circuitous route of switchbacks and radio wave patterns with a 3 mile beginner, 8 mile intermediate and 13 miles expert route. My eyes were affixed to the trailhead entrance ready to roll on through, but I would have to wait as we headed back to camp.
Exploring Clear Creek Trails
The next day I contemplated my fate of 13 miles in the backwood with a somewhat trusty mountain bike. I had plenty of water, checked my phone and spotty reception which thwarted my idea of using the phone a friend option. I elected to go and explore at a slow pace. From the trailhead I rode clockwise to the left and was awarded with smooth flowing singletrack with gentle bends. Very little roots were encountered making the ride glide by. The trails are well maintained and reward you with a great design along with challenging berms, turns and pump track like slopes and dips. There are mile markers spaced every ½ mile, which helped my orientation of the trail since I did not have cell phone signal for GPS tracking apps like Strava or mapmyride.
About 1 mile on the trail I reached the dreaded fork in the road, expert/intermediate to the left or a 3-mile beginner loop to the right. In honor of my wife who is a southpaw, I took the left turn. Also, I couldn’t go back and embellish a 3-mile beginner loop to my mountain bike rider friends back home.
The route I took led me to slopes and dips which allowed me to coast along since I had only one working high gear and a working front brake. If I had the full complement of gearing and a trued wheel I would have rode the course faster. However, the leisure pace allowed me to soak in the sunlight streaming through the forest canopy. Due to the warnings about Clear Creek being a high tick area, I was covered in clothing from head to toe, which combined with the humidity made for some major sweating. I still somehow ended up with a tick up my shirt.
The course deceptively appears to go downhill with a couple spins of the pedals my momentum and pumping the bike through the slopes and dips allowed me to coast most of the course. Around the 4.0 mile marker did I enter a 90 degree challenging down hill turn. Since I didn’t have a back brake to effectively slow me down. A front brake increases the risk of propelling over the handlebars and face planting. I elected to walk it through and postpone the challenge another day. Slow, steady and keep the face wins the race. I also didn’t want to invest in dental work I don’t already need.
Although the 13 miles of singletrack may be dauntingly long there are sections at 4 and 8 miles where you can break out of the trail onto a primitive camp site and onto or directly to the main black top road leading to the trailhead. The course has quaint signs depicting trail sections ahead. One posted sign depicted the dense woodlands of Endor from the Star Wars Return of the Jedi.
It is a tight compacted grove of trees and a single track path routes you through. I was going slow enough to enjoy the forested display and maneuver in between the narrow lined grove of trees. There are several climbs throughout the course, but none too taxing or too long. The rewards are sloping downhill sections. There are challenging gravity drops with a slotted bridge at the bottom. I pondered riding the gravity drop, but thought better of it with my damaged bike.
After reaching the 8.5 mile marker the route splits along the way to return to the trailhead start or route through the beginner 3.0 mile loop. I backtracked to make sure I didn’t miss a turn and rode the split back to the trailhead and return back to finish the 3 mile beginner bringing back to the trailhead.
At the trailhead I marveled at the work the crews for the Oxford Mountain Bike Club and the Corp of Engineers did to make it a great single track trail in Mississippi. I hope to return and bring along my friends to make it a day trip to remember. Who would like to go with me next time? If you like bikes (of any kind) as much as I do, please let me know by commenting below. Never miss a bike trail story (or other adventure) by following us on social media and subscribing to our weekly newsletter!
MistleJune 24, 2016 9:04 am
Looks very peaceful and calming!