May 13, 2018
Oleta River is a love/hate kind of deal. Let me start by saying it is worth riding, without a doubt. To me it's a 4/5. Great challenges but it does lack a few characteristics.
The terrain is monotonous. Roots, sand, rocks and it is LOOSE. I cannot exaggerate enough when I say roots. There are an abundance of trails, however there's little distinction between the trails you're on. They are mostly similar in layout and features. They are well marked and have a variety of beginner, intermidate and expert trails. No problem there.
This is not a place where you will find trails that constantly flow or a place where you can expect to find fast sections (more on that later). This entire place is a character builder. It will piss you off and reward you in the same moment. It's very technical and when you approach some features you just kind of scratch your head and say "how?", then you find a line and proceed to play. The roots provide the biggest challenge. They're most abundant EXACLTY where you wouldn't want them. The climbs and the climbs with sharp, narrow turns. It will teach you how to ride better and how to pick a line.
Beyond the roots, many of the trails are very loose and rocky. There's a lot of careful manipulation needed to not wash out in the corners of some sections, which is also a good skill builder. There are some fun, quick ascents and drops found throughout the trails, including a few stair features, bridges (elevated and flat). No major elevation changes except for "Stairway to Heaven" which is probably the best part of the entire place. There's a lot of water accompanying many of the trails (several trails parallel the river), very nice scenery and SHADE to help beat the heat.
For someone looking for a good challenge and "expert" trails, hitting "Stairway to Heaven" to "Gilligan's Island" are great choices. Stairway is a nice, extended ascent top of a 40-50' hill (roughly). The best part of the park to me, is this section. It is the only part of the park where you can hit the decent of the hill with some great speed AND there is a GREAT jump (optional) with a nice, smooth landing that is a new feature. I easily hit it 5-6 times and it will give you some GREAT air time depending on your speed. The rest of the Stairway section provides another fun descent following a pretty narrow and loose, challenging climb at the end. Gilligan's trail is very narrow, technical root features with lots of small and medium bridges to get over some fallen trees or big roots.
Another area worth mentioning that's a new addition is preceding Stairway. You will find another quick, medium sized ascent into a banked corner, another quick and decent ascent, into another drop with two VERY AWESOME banked corner lines. Wide or tight lines. Caution: these end FAST in a very tight and loose right hand corner. I became close friends with a small tree due to not scoping the trail out beforehand.
In conclusion, definitely visit it. Ride with open expectations and don't expect it to be Amelia or Markham. It's a different build. The park itself is a gem amongst the urban sprawl of Miami. It's cool to be in the woods and get a peek of the high rises at certain areas. The park offers many other activities like kayaking, camping, walking/running trails, picnic/event areas, fishing, etc.